This is the story of the Pyncheon family that is slowly becoming extinct. We meet Hepzibah Pyncheon, poor and old, who lives alone in the family mansion, a house build with seven gables. Without resources, she opens a penny shop to earn money to live. Other notable characters include her brother Clifford imprisoned because of the acts of Jaffrey Pyncheon, a wealthy judge who lives in his own country manor and is determined to find an ancient deed to other Pyncheon property.
When the penny shop seems to be failing young Phoebe Pyncheon appears. She is a lovely, vivacious, and enthusiastic young woman who lives in the country who has come to visit her cousins. She enjoys running the penny store, brightens the gloomy atmosphere in the house, and when Clifford returns from his prison, entertains him with all her charms. In addition, she meets Holgrave, a young boarder in the house, and romance blooms.
The tale is often referred to as a romance but I felt that it was more a story about the Pyncheon family. Hawthorne sets the stage by giving us an overview of how the original Pyncheon obtained the property and built the house. His actions provoked a curse from the original land owner that is endure throughout the family's existence.
Yes, there are ghosts and strange happenings in the house. And, we are exposed to the lives of former residents of the house. However, life improves for the current residents when another tragedy strikes the Pyncheon family, particularly the judge. Hepsibah and Clifford temporarily evacuate their ancestral home. All comes to a climax as the author weaves the tale into an ending that is unexpected but makes the reader smile. I liked this read even though I found Hawthorne's writing sometimes difficult to endure. Good one.