The Blithedale Romance
by Nathaniel Hawthorne
Public Domain Books Edition 2007
Read on Kindle
I think the one Nathaniel Hawthorne novel everyone in the U.S. has read or at least heard of is The Scarlet Letter. If not from having read the book in school, then having heard of the play adaptation by Arthur Miller. The Scarlet Letter was published in 1850, and The Blithedale Romance was published in 1852. The enduring fame of both works has shown that Nathaniel Hawthorne could write the shit out of a mid 19th century Novel, but Critics at the time were not so adoring. Many singled out the sensationalist themes in both works. In The Scarlet Letter the adultery theme raised contemporary eye brows, and no doubt the setting of The Blithedale Romance in a mid 19th century commune in New England and it's dark theme of suicide.
The Blithedale Romance was a pleasure to read because I was really expecting something boring and instead it was lively and contemporary- I really enjoyed the sensationalist themes, the setting in a mid 19th century Commune and the length and pacing. It was an ideal free Kindle download in that regard.