In 17th-century Salem, Hester Prynne must wear a scarlet A because she is an adulteress, with a child out of wedlock. For seven years, she has refused to name the father. A vigorous older stranger arrives, recognized by Hester but unknown to others as her missing husband. He poses as Chillingworth, a doctor, watching Hester and searching out the identity of her lover. His eye soon rests on Dimmesdale, a young overwrought pastor. Enmity grows between the two men; Chillingworth applies psychological pressure, and the pastor begins to crack. A ship stops in Salem, and Hester sees it as a providential refuge for her daughter, herself, and her lover. But will Dimmesdale flee with her?
Scarlet is the colour of sin, and the letter 'A' stands for 'Adultery'. In the 1600s, in Boston, Massachusetts, love was allowed only between a husband and a wife. A child born outside marriage was a child of sin. Hester Prynne must wear the scarlet letter on her dress for the rest of her life. How can she ever escape from this public shame? What will happen to her child, growing up in the shadow of the scarlet letter? The future holds no joy for Hester Prynne. And what will happen to her sinful lover - the father of her child?
Set in the Puritanical society of 17th-century Boston, this novel tells the story of Hester Prynne, a married woman who has an affair and gives birth to a daughter. Hester refuses to name her lover, but when her estranged husband appears unexpectedly, he determines to discover the man's identity.