This is the story of Sophia Amelia Peabodys courtship and married life with husband Nathaniel Hawthorne. Nathaniel was charmed with Sophias paintings and she with his writings. He considered her a gift from God to bring light to him. She is nearly dizzy from his beauty.
The novel is written from Sophias perspective and begins when Nathaniel, although ill, leaves on a short trip that Sophia is totally against. She has a premonition that this will be the last time she sees him. She tells Nathaniel that she cannot bear this earth long without my companion. Then the story goes back in time to shortly before she first meets him.
As you can imagine, the life of two artists is not easy. Their temperaments were different; Nathaniel yearned for solitude while Sophia often invited friends to dinner. Finances were always a concern for them especially after having three children. Yet they remained passionately in love.
I enjoyed reading of their interactions with some of the other writers of that time Henry Thoreau, Ralph Waldo Emerson, etc.
Sophia was a very intelligent woman but often had to hide her intelligence in order to be accepted by the society women of the time. Sophia really was not that different from other women of her time. While she was highly educated and an independent thinker, like most women around her, she put her talents aside to fulfill the role of wife and mother. According to Ms. Robuck, she was advised to continue her painting. For you do not want to end up the little marker at the side of the grand headstone, where future writers and readers will lay their offerings, honoring only the man published and not the women who supported and even made his work possible.
I enjoyed the historical portions of the story, and the writing itself was beautifully descriptive. But I did not find myself warming up to either Sophia or Nathaniel. I found the constant over-the-top endearments to be too much. There were several places in the book where it really just dragged on saying nothing of interest. Bottom line I just did not find them to be a very interesting couple.