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Publisher's Summary

One of the most important novels in classic literature, Nathaniel Hawthorne's The Scarlet Letter tackles the subject of adultery, with the notorious Hester Prynne at the forefront of the scandal in the Massachusetts Bay Colony. In the beginning of the novel, Hester is serving time in prison for having a child out of wedlock and is forced to wear a scarlet A on her clothing at all times, so she cannot run from her sin no matter where she goes. Her husband has been away for around two years, and she refuses to name the father of her daughter, Pearl. The father is actually Reverend Dimmesdale, a timid man who keeps his secret from the community.

Hester's husband returns to the colony, where he finds out what has happened and makes it his personal goal to torment the father of Pearl. He discovers that it is Dimmesdale and tries to intimidate him. The pressure becomes too much for Dimmesdale, and after seven years of torture the reverend eventually admits what he has done and dies before a crowd of people. Not long after, Hester's husband also passes away, leaving Hester and her daughter enough money to escape the colony and finally have some peace. At the end, however, Hester decides to come back to the colony, and when she passes away, she is buried next to the reverend, with whom she had been in love.

Public Domain (P)2015 A.R.N. Publications

What members say

Average Customer Ratings

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  • 4.3 out of 5.0
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'Thou Wast Not Bold! Thou Wast Not True!'

This faithful audio version of Hawthorne's timeless classic is by far the best available; Kate Petrie is an excellent narrator and does admirable justice to the novel's gorgeously wrought prose, somber tone and yet hopeful spirit. My only qualms in recommending it as a 5-star performance across the board are minor quibbles with the production (why does the three-minute introduction come at the END of the book?) and the editing (on at least one occasion, Petrie reads the same line twice), although I must admit these to be very minor flaws indeed in a recording so otherwise seamless as to give the impression that the narrator never ceased reading for one moment to draw a deep breath, much less ever stopped for several minutes together to drink a glass of water or stretch her legs.

The English teacher in me must give one final word of warning to the educated, word-loving listener: Just know in advance that there will be a few mispronunciations of individual words, so you won't be unduly startled and dismayed when you hear them. Some may be British pronunciations, but most are clearly actual errors, often of the sort where a syllable is added or deleted. These errors include "GREE-vee-us"/grievous; "con-TIDJ-you-us"/contiguous; "INK-witty"/iniquity; "Er-RUDE-it"/erudite; "uh-TRIB-yutes"/attributes (as in, the attributes of the wearer of the scarlet letter); "ig-NOM-uh-nee"/ignominy; "miss-CHEE-vee-us"/mischievous; "scorge"/scourge; "PURR-pert"/purport; and, perhaps most dismaying, "DIM-mizz-dale"/Dimmesdale.

But don't let that stop you from using a credit on this gorgeous page-turner. Hawthorne, the most anti-religionist of the American Romantics, a man who was haunted and obsessed by the subject of dubious Puritan "morality" due to his ancestor's pivotal and horrific role in the Salem Witch trials, here weaves such a spellbinding and suspenseful tale that it can't possibly be tarnished by a few minor mispronunciations.

Thank you, thank you, Audible, for this thoroughly engrossing, lovingly embroidered audio experience of one of the finest works of American literature. Grade: scarlet A-plus.

34 of 41 people found this review helpful

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Interesting and Great For Literary Examination

The story is very wealthy in literary themes and would be fairly easy to write essays on. The Narrator is pleasant and portrays several voices very well. The story is interesting and also not too terribly long. My only distaste is Hawthorne's "try-hard" diction and excessive flowering in scene description.

7 of 9 people found this review helpful

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lovely story and telling

A crime of adultery and such an excavation of the affected souls that Dostoevsky might have been inspired. The narrator's lovely voice burnishes the narration and brings to life the characters.

7 of 9 people found this review helpful

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Timeless

Wonderfully narrated. It is the message, wrapped in Hawthorne's succinctly insightful and luxurious Victorian prose, that lays bare the torture of ignominy and isolation imposed by the most misguided practice of religions, that seeks to either challenge the readers' unenlightened tribal instincts to at last bathe their collective conscience and live henceforth in the promise and hope of redemption or to rejoice in gratitude that we now live in a time where we may enjoy this option.

Hester's only option was to live defamed, ostracized by her peers or to escape. First mentally and then physically. Forgiveness was not to be a comfort afforded her by others but gained by her own daring thoughts.... to arrive at her own redemption.


6 of 8 people found this review helpful

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For the Narrator

Fantastic voices for the different characters. especially pearl. made me be able to imagine a little girl right at her mother's feet and begging her for something.

8 of 11 people found this review helpful

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Quite the take on sexual immorality

The narrator did well. The story was quite an adventure. 10 out of 10 would read again.

2 of 3 people found this review helpful

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Wonderfully narrated

I loved the story. The narrator brought it to life for me. I have attempted to read to book several times but had a hard time with the language--this was a much better alternative--very easy to understand.

3 of 5 people found this review helpful

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Learn a little history to really appreciate this book.

I like to read books without knowing anything about them. I want to just experience it. The problem with this is that so much of the story only makes sense within its historical context. So without knowing any of that, so many people in this story are huge jerks and the way they view sin, adultery, single moms and clergy is annoying. The main character seems sweet. The voice that the reader uses for the little girl is irritating. She also re-reads a few lines on accident. I didn't love this story, but it did keep my company for a day without losing me so I didn't hate it.

0 of 4 people found this review helpful

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A predictable story, very like any Thomas Hardy story.

There's a short and concise summary to the story, intended as an introduction, right at the very end of the recording. Damn I wish I had started with that instead of suffering through the entire book.

Full marks to Kate Petrie who diligently articulated sentences that lasted entire minutes and managed to give each character something distinguishing but there was nothing to do about the book, I'm afraid. It was obvious from the start who her baby's father was and the way he and the husband met their respective ends was utterly predictable.

I wonder if the modern age has hardened me to such behaviour? Would a reader 100, 150 years ago have been any more shocked by it all?

0 of 8 people found this review helpful

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Dint know why this is such a famous book

It wasn't for me. Found the story and narration very boring. Not sure why this is such a famous book.

0 of 10 people found this review helpful

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  • Amazon Customer
  • 08-23-16

Revuew

Excellent narrator.
The book itself was very wordy. But was nevertheless enjoyable. A book of its time.