This volume from the Social Issues in Literature series explores Nathaniel Hawthorne’s "The Scarlet Letter" through the lens of women’s issues. The book features essays written from a variety of perspectives that illustrate how, although women have made impressive advances since the nineteenth century, many aspects raised in Hawthorne’s novel remain pertinent today. In a succinct and informative introduction the editor suggests that Hawthorne’s criticism of women writers and his own social conservatism, when considered against Hester Prynne’s “sensitively rendered, radical statements about the need for a change in women’s character and relationships,” have provided the catalyst for a range of critical interpretations of "The Scarlet Letter". Three chapters follow a table of contents, the introduction and a chronology of Hawthorne’s life. The first chapter’s essays explore how Hawthorne’s personal background influenced his writing—the author spent his life surrounded by women, for example, though his mother was unlike the strong maternal figure that Hester Prynne represents. The second, much lengthier chapter offers ten essays with widely divergent views of women’s issues in Hawthorne’s writing. Matters discussed include the danger of reformism and intellect, the widely perceived nature of woman and the impropriety of assuming a leadership role. Authors examine how Hester is perceived as a hero, a marginalized artist and an outsider, among other views. The final chapter explores contemporary perspectives on women’s issues, including the angles of forced marriage and single motherhood. “Hester’s Powerful Progeny,” which highlights women in government, most prominently Alaska Governor Sarah Palin, makes for timely reading following the most recent presidential campaign. Each essay opens with a brief author’s biography and an introduction to the piece. The volume concludes with discussion questions that teachers can use to prompt more in-depth exploration, suggested further reading, a bibliography of books and periodicals and a general index. The volume also features black and white photos and illustrations throughout the text. Highly recommended for high school, public and university libraries.