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One of Edith Wharton s few works of fiction that takes place outside of an urban, upper-class setting, Ethan Frome draws upon the bleak, barren landscape of rural New England. A poor farmer, Ethan finds himself stuck in a miserable marriage to Zeenie, a sickly, tyrannical woman, until he falls in love with her visiting cousin, the vivacious Mattie Silver. As Mattie is forc One of Edith Wharton s few works of fiction that takes place outside of an urban, upper-class setting, Ethan Frome draws upon the bleak, barren landscape of rural New England. A poor farmer, Ethan finds himself stuck in a miserable marriage to Zeenie, a sickly, tyrannical woman, until he falls in love with her visiting cousin, the vivacious Mattie Silver. As Mattie is forced to leave his household, Frome steals one last afternoon with her—one that culminates in a ruinous sled ride with unspeakably tragic results. Unhappily married herself, Edith Wharton projected her dark views of love onto people far removed from her social class in Ethan Frome. Her sensitivity to natural beauty and human psychology, however, make this slim novel a convincing and compelling portrait of rural life. A powerful tale of passion and loss—and the wretched consequences thereof—Ethan Frome is one of American literatures great tragic love stories. Also included in this volume are four of Edith Wharton s finest short stories: The Pretext, Afterward, The Legend, and Xingu. Kent P. Ljungquist, Professor of English at Worcester Polytechnic Institute, is the author of The Grand and the Fair: Poe s Landscape Aesthetics and Pictorial Techniques, co-editor of the SUNY Press edition of James Fenimore Cooper's The Deerslayer, and editor of several reference works of American fiction.


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One of Edith Wharton s few works of fiction that takes place outside of an urban, upper-class setting, Ethan Frome draws upon the bleak, barren landscape of rural New England. A poor farmer, Ethan finds himself stuck in a miserable marriage to Zeenie, a sickly, tyrannical woman, until he falls in love with her visiting cousin, the vivacious Mattie Silver. As Mattie is forc One of Edith Wharton s few works of fiction that takes place outside of an urban, upper-class setting, Ethan Frome draws upon the bleak, barren landscape of rural New England. A poor farmer, Ethan finds himself stuck in a miserable marriage to Zeenie, a sickly, tyrannical woman, until he falls in love with her visiting cousin, the vivacious Mattie Silver. As Mattie is forced to leave his household, Frome steals one last afternoon with her—one that culminates in a ruinous sled ride with unspeakably tragic results. Unhappily married herself, Edith Wharton projected her dark views of love onto people far removed from her social class in Ethan Frome. Her sensitivity to natural beauty and human psychology, however, make this slim novel a convincing and compelling portrait of rural life. A powerful tale of passion and loss—and the wretched consequences thereof—Ethan Frome is one of American literatures great tragic love stories. Also included in this volume are four of Edith Wharton s finest short stories: The Pretext, Afterward, The Legend, and Xingu. Kent P. Ljungquist, Professor of English at Worcester Polytechnic Institute, is the author of The Grand and the Fair: Poe s Landscape Aesthetics and Pictorial Techniques, co-editor of the SUNY Press edition of James Fenimore Cooper's The Deerslayer, and editor of several reference works of American fiction.

30 review for Ethan Frome & Selected Stories (Barnes & Noble Classics Series)

  1. 5 out of 5

    Esteban del Mal

    Ethan Frome is one of those stories that people have a strong reaction to, typically in the negative. And if you read it and rated it one or two stars, you probably don't like it because you think everyone falls somewhere on the Seth Rogan/Tony Robbins spectrum of affable enthusiasm for life. You probably also grew-up in some nondescript suburb which you never moved from, most of your friends are white, and if not, they at least share your taste in chain restaurants and are consistently, non-thr Ethan Frome is one of those stories that people have a strong reaction to, typically in the negative. And if you read it and rated it one or two stars, you probably don't like it because you think everyone falls somewhere on the Seth Rogan/Tony Robbins spectrum of affable enthusiasm for life. You probably also grew-up in some nondescript suburb which you never moved from, most of your friends are white, and if not, they at least share your taste in chain restaurants and are consistently, non-threateningly, predictably homogeneous in both disposition and appearance. Like chain restaurants. You also were probably never in a fistfight, and if you were, it was probably at the bicycle rack after school and you, or your adversary, opted to eat grass before fisticuffs erupted and even then the confrontation was broken up by what would become your aforementioned homogeneous lifetime friends and their, as well as your, equally homogeneous adversaries. Adversaries that are now counted among your friends and which sometimes accompany you to your weekly outings at chain restaurants. You have quite probably never bounced a check and may consider at least one parent a best friend. Both of your parents helped you pay for college, if not paid for it altogether. You stand to inherit their home when they die, but you can no more conceive of your parents as dead as you can conceive of yourself as having debt in the form of a college loan. Those that do have debt in the form of a college loan you find vaguely distasteful because debt in the form of a college loan is a consequence of a life of poor decisions. You have remained at least an acquaintance of your date to your high school prom. Your last anxious moment came about when your were confronted with the possibility of getting a new hair style. The rain, you opportunely tell others, makes you sad. This assertion confirms you as a person of great depth and feeling amongst your peers. You hope to one day be a member of Jimmy Fallon's live studio audience and to visit The Wizarding World of Harry Potter. The most that anyone will remember about you upon your death is that you had a series of new cars throughout your life and that you did not like to talk about politics.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Jeanette

    The bleak New England setting of Ethan Frome helps set the tone for this rather bleak little novel. Ethan Frome is a poor, down trodden, and in my opinion weak willed farmer. He is married to Zeena, a hypochondriac, uncommunicative, rigid, complaining, manipulative (I could go on...) woman. When Zeena's destitute cousin Mattie Silver moves in with the Fromes Ethan quickly becomes enamored with the young, happy woman who seems to be the exact opposite of his wife in every way. Ethan finds himself b The bleak New England setting of Ethan Frome helps set the tone for this rather bleak little novel. Ethan Frome is a poor, down trodden, and in my opinion weak willed farmer. He is married to Zeena, a hypochondriac, uncommunicative, rigid, complaining, manipulative (I could go on...) woman. When Zeena's destitute cousin Mattie Silver moves in with the Fromes Ethan quickly becomes enamored with the young, happy woman who seems to be the exact opposite of his wife in every way. Ethan finds himself being pulled between doing the right thing and what he thinks will make him happy. It is a tragic story filled with a strong sense of pessimism, depression and hopelessness but written in a good way, i.e. not overly melo-dramatic. A brilliant novel. Maybe just don't read it when you are looking for something happy and uplifting.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Ken Oder

    This novella and collection of short stories was my first foray into the world of Edith Wharton. It proved to be an interesting journey. Ethan Frome is a good read. Wharton develops the three main characters so well you fell they are in the room with you. She makes great use of the Massachusetts landscape to create the atmospherics of this story. The winter clime is as frigid as Ethan's wife; the land as barren and bleak as his life; the rocks and fields as unforgiving as his fate. And the story This novella and collection of short stories was my first foray into the world of Edith Wharton. It proved to be an interesting journey. Ethan Frome is a good read. Wharton develops the three main characters so well you fell they are in the room with you. She makes great use of the Massachusetts landscape to create the atmospherics of this story. The winter clime is as frigid as Ethan's wife; the land as barren and bleak as his life; the rocks and fields as unforgiving as his fate. And the story is the very definition of irony. Of the short stories, Pretext is my favorite. Wharton captures perfectly a woman's late-in-life infatuation with a younger man. She tells the story entirely through the eyes of the woman, which makes the ending devastatingly effective. Another tour de force in irony. A great writer, at her best in this collection.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Bryan

    Oh my god, the things Edith does to her characters! All of these stories were great. Ethan Frome is obviously a deserved classic, but my favorite was "The Pretext" which broke my heart in one million places. After the emotional turmoil of those two stories, I was happy to end on the hilarious note that was "Xingu."

  5. 4 out of 5

    Fabrice Conchon

    Fantastic Edith Wharton ! This book is a set of five short stories, one that I am not very fond of (Afterward, I am not very keen on ghost stories) and the rest being just ... superb. In the first and most important one, Ethan Frome, this is the story of classic repressed impossible love, in a poor rural setting (unlike in Wharton's masterpiece The age of innocence where the world of the wealthy New York aristocracy is replaced by just a simple village community). Her very simple style make the b Fantastic Edith Wharton ! This book is a set of five short stories, one that I am not very fond of (Afterward, I am not very keen on ghost stories) and the rest being just ... superb. In the first and most important one, Ethan Frome, this is the story of classic repressed impossible love, in a poor rural setting (unlike in Wharton's masterpiece The age of innocence where the world of the wealthy New York aristocracy is replaced by just a simple village community). Her very simple style make the book very fluid and at the same time very griping, creating genuine empathy between the reader and the characters of the book. The book is cleverly setup with a narrator that tells the story that he discovers long after it has happen, making us know straight from the beginning that something terrible has happen without exactly describing what. This is not a romantic drama, characters are not heroes who die in a spectacular way but everyday people who do not even die, applying therefore Wharton's motto present also in The age of innocence and a few short stories that live sentence in much worse than death penalty. The other stories are also great, Xindu is really funny, The pretext is clever and The legend is also interesting, all are mocking this pretentious uptight American high society that Wharton is part of on a delightful way. A masterpiece.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Wisty

    Ok, so I started this a very long time ago; I read the first short story back in October! I've already read Ethan Frome and was not in the market to be depressed again, so rather than rereading the whole thing, I skimmed through some of my favorite parts. I really bought this for those four short stories at the end, and they didn't disappoint at all. The Pretext (10/9/19) A classic Edith story, depressing and romantic and wonderful and sad! Afterward (10/19/19) Just goes to show Edith's versatili Ok, so I started this a very long time ago; I read the first short story back in October! I've already read Ethan Frome and was not in the market to be depressed again, so rather than rereading the whole thing, I skimmed through some of my favorite parts. I really bought this for those four short stories at the end, and they didn't disappoint at all. The Pretext (10/9/19) A classic Edith story, depressing and romantic and wonderful and sad! Afterward (10/19/19) Just goes to show Edith's versatility, this was like a gothic ghost story that actually gave me the chills. Legacy (12/13/19) My least favorite of the bunch, but still great. Xingu (1/25/20) This was actually the funniest thing I've ever read. It was a total satire of these people who sit there and try to be cultural but actually know nothing. It was truly, truly brilliant.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Joe1207

    Ethan Frome was required reading in high school. I hated it—everyone did. Same with most of the books on my “need to reread” list, i.e. The Scarlet Letter, A Raisin in the Sun, and The Odyssey. But time marched on; a week ago, I realized I still remembered the story. Surprising, but not as surprising as the revelation I could relate to Ethan now. Curiosity carried me forward. The narrator is Ethan-curious. But their interest goes beyond small-town gossip: they think and speak like him. The narrat Ethan Frome was required reading in high school. I hated it—everyone did. Same with most of the books on my “need to reread” list, i.e. The Scarlet Letter, A Raisin in the Sun, and The Odyssey. But time marched on; a week ago, I realized I still remembered the story. Surprising, but not as surprising as the revelation I could relate to Ethan now. Curiosity carried me forward. The narrator is Ethan-curious. But their interest goes beyond small-town gossip: they think and speak like him. The narrator says, “[Ethan] had always been more sensitive than the people about him to the appeal of natural beauty,” (23) then details the allure of snowy Starkfield on the next page. The speaker often leads the witness. The Starkfield community, Ethan included, suffers money troubles: “It was clear that the Varnum fortunes were at the ebb, but [Mrs. Hale and the landlady] did what they could to preserve a decent dignity.” (11). Our first introduction to the Eady family follows this description; Denis is called the “rich Irish grocer.” (12). Ten pages later, he is reintroduced: “Denis Eady was the son of Michael Eady, the ambitious Irish grocer, whose suppleness and effrontery had given Starkfield its first notion of ‘smart’ business methods.” (21). Following the “impartial” observation earlier, readers wonder about the author’s feelings toward Irish people. I don’t think Wharton is xenophobic. This is one example where she failed to execute an idea. The same happens with Mattie’s dance: Wharton tells us about Ethan’s ennui before we witness it. Another defect includes Ethan’s rushed feelings when first meeting Mattie. I sense Wharton was eager to jump into the meat of her story and simplified where possible. Ethan Frome has enough content for a novel. The potential for remarkable scenes is here; if only they were allowed space to breathe. For what it is, Ethan Frome is a commendable short story, if not novella. It fits neatly into the Romantic tradition, with declarations of love, symbolism, and foreshadowing front and center. Though, its place in the pantheon of American literature depends on your interpretation. Readers will find plenty to digest from the complicated moral and societal strictures, but less from a feminist approach. Many readers see restrictions from Ethan’s perspective, no doubt because of the narrator: the Frome family gravestones “mocked his restlessness, his desire for change and freedom.” (32). Zeena exacerbates Ethan’s discontent with her “fault-finding” and “obstinate silence.” (37). Christian ethics lurk in the background with watchful figures such as Jotham (37, 80). Zeena’s faux-Christian duty to house Mattie contributes to Ethan’s frustration (36). Ignoring the ham-fisted epitaphs reveals subtle details about Zeena that injure Ethan’s image of innocence. Like Denis Eady, she is smart: “She seemed to possess by instinct all the household wisdom that [Ethan’s] long apprenticeship had not instilled in him.” She is a go-getter: Ethan follows her orders, leaving her “to see to things.” This dynamic “restored his shaken balance” after his mother’s death, but now “her efficiency shamed” him. (41). Ethan enjoys a “thrilling sense of mastery” (50) over Mattie, saying he “restrained” (56) himself by resisting a kiss. By contrast, he feels “weak and powerless” against Zeena. His “manhood was humbled” (77) because “now [Zeena] had mastered him.” (66). He stands up to Zeena only once—when he insists on driving Mattie to the train station—and he rides this exhilarating high to command Mattie into the sled using the “note of authority in his voice.” (88). Moments before their accident, Mattie “yielded.” (92). Toxic gender roles manifest like roots on an old oak. “Within a year of their marriage [Zeena] developed the ‘sickliness’.” When she “fell silent,” Ethan “recalled his mother’s growing taciturnity, and wondered if Zeena were also turning ‘queer.’ Women did, he knew.” (42). Readers learn at the start, from Harmon Gow, that “sickness and trouble” (13) follows Ethan. But these troubles only surface in the women around him—and maybe that has less to do with the women and more to do with Ethan. Zeena connects the dots: “I’d ‘a’ been ashamed to tell [Dr. Buck] that you grudged me the money to get back my health, when I lost it nursing your own mother!” (63). Mattie is no different: “So strange was the precision with which the incidents of the previous evening were repeating themselves that [Ethan] half-expected, when he heard the key turn, to see his wife before him on the threshold; but the door opened, and Mattie faced him. She stood just as Zeena had stood.” (46-7). On the surface, Ethan Frome grabs the baton from feminist literature such as “The Yellow Wallpaper.” The last line helps with this interpretation: “if [Mattie] ha’ died, Ethan might ha’ lived; and the way they are now, I don’t see’s there’s much difference between the Fromes up at the farm and the Fromes down in the graveyard; ‘cept that down there they’re all quiet, and the women have got to hold their tongues.” (99). Unfortunately, the story sends mixed signals. The narrator’s sincere defense of Ethan subverts any feminist vision in Ethan Frome. And any evidence suggesting a biased narrator like Harmon Gow is tenuous. The message is simpler: relationships break down from restrictive social roles. Wharton’s personal life parallels this interpretation, further eroding the theory of a hidden, overarching feminism. I remain skeptical of Ethan Frome in high school classrooms. Best case scenario, students learn every side has a story. Worst case scenario, students side with Zeena and overlook half the story. Worse still are the readers pulling for Ethan—from my experience, this included most peers and my teacher. These readers have the difficult task of dismissing Ethan’s aggression and authority over the women of Starkfield.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Kaidan

    This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here. Ethan Frome is an unique book that induces different reactions depending on the reader’s personality/ views. The book was deviously written to make you root for the cheating spouse and hate the wife that was only trying to keep her husband. Now, I’ve heard the viewpoint of someone who supported the wife. They said, “it was amazing to see the patience that Zenobia Frome had, to put up with Ethan the whole time till she finally cracked. But in the end they got what they deserved.” I personally did Ethan Frome is an unique book that induces different reactions depending on the reader’s personality/ views. The book was deviously written to make you root for the cheating spouse and hate the wife that was only trying to keep her husband. Now, I’ve heard the viewpoint of someone who supported the wife. They said, “it was amazing to see the patience that Zenobia Frome had, to put up with Ethan the whole time till she finally cracked. But in the end they got what they deserved.” I personally didn’t see it that way, I was wrapped up in Ethan and Mattie and I found myself rooting for them then reprimanding myself for doing so. It was an ongoing battle for me but in the end, I found it depressing that that had happened to Ethan and Mattie. I personally found Zenobia annoying, but I still couldn’t help thinking that Ethan was in the wrong(at some parts of my internal battle). As I said, the end had me wishing that they had just died together but I have heard that the end was punishment for their wrongs; ironic justice. This book does teach a valuable lesson. Actions have consequences. I believe Ethan’s first mistake was marrying Zenobia. It teaches that you must think through things before you act. Ethan’s recklessness led to his downfall. In the end, he brought his suffering on himself.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Michelle

    This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here. Probably my favorite book of all times. I'm disappointed it's not more highly rated. I absolutely love the characters, and the dark, depressing tone of it. I can only read it in the winter time, while I read Edith Wharton's Summer in the summertime. I enjoyed Edith Wharton's writing style, as well as her elaborate diction. It's a great book to teach to students, especially at the AP level. It's short, complexed, and high interest, at least in my opinion. It has romance, loss, and it's set hundre Probably my favorite book of all times. I'm disappointed it's not more highly rated. I absolutely love the characters, and the dark, depressing tone of it. I can only read it in the winter time, while I read Edith Wharton's Summer in the summertime. I enjoyed Edith Wharton's writing style, as well as her elaborate diction. It's a great book to teach to students, especially at the AP level. It's short, complexed, and high interest, at least in my opinion. It has romance, loss, and it's set hundred years ago, a classic.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Barbara

    I am sure I read Ethan Frome in high school. The story is vaguely familiar. But reading it now with more detailed knowledge of the time period in which it was written and in which it is set, and perhaps the wisdom of many more years and experiences, was a joy. I mightn’t have noticed the exquisite detail in Edith Wharton’s writing back then, but made an impression this time. I won’t say more. My book club is discussing this book this Friday.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Janis

    Edith Wharton’s story of Ethan Frome is so well written that when I read it in the middle of a muggy and unbearable heat wave I could actually feel the coldness and bleakness of a western Massachusetts winter in the early part of the 20th century. The short stories that are included are full of well developed characters, Wharton’s satire, and her clever endings. My favorite was Xingu.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Amy

    Creepy, gothic like cautionary tale of the dangers of infidelity (which does not have to be physical), while also managing to be entertaining. I kept thinking, "Don't do it, Ethan!" I somehow missed this brief novel before now, but perhaps for the best as it possibly made more impact after a few more trips around the sun. Looking forward to more works by Edith Wharton.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Alex

    Still one of the best, captures some painful moments so perfectly

  14. 5 out of 5

    Laurie

    More depressing than 'Summer,' but well-told. I wonder if Wharton has written anything happier?

  15. 5 out of 5

    Jensen

    This short tale/novella, Ethan Frome, has reminded me afresh of why American literature should be valued in the first place. I had not heard much of this work as of yet, but I have heard great things about Wharton. Her other works seem to be more popular and noteworthy across the American lit canon, but this work by NO means should be underestimated. Set in the fictitious town of Starkfield, Massachusetts and based most likely on an actual event that took place in Lenox, MA in 1904, this work is This short tale/novella, Ethan Frome, has reminded me afresh of why American literature should be valued in the first place. I had not heard much of this work as of yet, but I have heard great things about Wharton. Her other works seem to be more popular and noteworthy across the American lit canon, but this work by NO means should be underestimated. Set in the fictitious town of Starkfield, Massachusetts and based most likely on an actual event that took place in Lenox, MA in 1904, this work is a masterpiece of American literature. The symbols (red scarf/ribbon, the cat and pickle dish, and the final sled ride) are all interspersed thoughtfully throughout the plot. The pace of the novel is just right -- not too slow or fast but just perfect enough to capture enough detail without boring readers, all within 100 pages. Motifs of illness, disability, and the stark/bleak winter weather that is ever present in the (not coincidentally named) town of Starkfield run through the tale powerfully. It's a story of what is means to merely survive instead of live. It deals with societal pressures versus one's inner longings. It is raw, real, stunning, brilliant, grim, and powerful all at once. LOVE it! Storytelling at its best.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Sam Flanagan

    Though not set in her typical circles of socialite aristocracy, Ethan Frome carries the distinct flavor of Edith Wharton. Her firm grasp of the human struggle for independence and understanding is pervasive and profound. Ethan is the embodiment of the awakened romantic who is bound to a constricting and outdated system of social norms and moralities, and the dreary landscape of a small Connecticut town in the dead of winter serves as the realized metaphor of the paralyzing hopelessness that Fro Though not set in her typical circles of socialite aristocracy, Ethan Frome carries the distinct flavor of Edith Wharton. Her firm grasp of the human struggle for independence and understanding is pervasive and profound. Ethan is the embodiment of the awakened romantic who is bound to a constricting and outdated system of social norms and moralities, and the dreary landscape of a small Connecticut town in the dead of winter serves as the realized metaphor of the paralyzing hopelessness that Frome bears internally. His story is relatable and familiar yet Wharton's terse style and frigid landscape provoke an intense sense of pity and impending dread rarely captured in a story of this brevity. The novel's conclusion is memorable - if a bit contrived - and reveals the sordid moral of Wharton's unconventional love story. She has thrown a bone to the readers of her time, bringing to vivid reality that conclusive moment of misguided self-possession and action so often considered by - yet wistfully denied to - the protagonists of her contemporary authors. This work is short, cutting, and unforgettable - a fitting ode to the tortured souls of her age.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Mark Sandbothe

    Ethan Frome: A short story set in a cold and brutal New England town. The geography and weather play a substantial part in this short story. Its all pervasive. I liked that it was told in a flashback mode as it internalized the inevitably of everything that was going to happen. Everything lead inexorably toward it. I did think the sled riding incident at the end was somewhat contrived. Really, out of the blue Mattie says to him; let’s kill ourselves, I can’t do anything without you; and Ethan ag Ethan Frome: A short story set in a cold and brutal New England town. The geography and weather play a substantial part in this short story. Its all pervasive. I liked that it was told in a flashback mode as it internalized the inevitably of everything that was going to happen. Everything lead inexorably toward it. I did think the sled riding incident at the end was somewhat contrived. Really, out of the blue Mattie says to him; let’s kill ourselves, I can’t do anything without you; and Ethan agrees? I’m not buying it. Xingu: Loved it! I love the play on words and the puns that flowed form between Oscir and Rohby’s subtle jabs at the Lunch Club members. Afterwards: This one was haunting. Again, the location played more of a part in the short story than the characters seemed to. Great twist at the end. Pretext: I didn’t really get this one. So she fell in love with him, and he with her, yet it seemed as though he only used her as an excuse not to marry one that he was betrothed to. Did he really love her? It was never really made clear.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Jeni Enjaian

    I did not enjoy this book. However, my lack of enjoyment was much different than the lack I just wrote about in my review of "The Good Soldier" by Ford Maddox Ford. The primary reason that I did not enjoy this book was the incredibly depressing nature of the primary story, "Ethan Frome," and the morbid slant of the other stories included in the collection. Wharton created a fluid narrative free of confusion that admirably tugged at the reader's heartstrings. That much is true about "Ethan Frome." I did not enjoy this book. However, my lack of enjoyment was much different than the lack I just wrote about in my review of "The Good Soldier" by Ford Maddox Ford. The primary reason that I did not enjoy this book was the incredibly depressing nature of the primary story, "Ethan Frome," and the morbid slant of the other stories included in the collection. Wharton created a fluid narrative free of confusion that admirably tugged at the reader's heartstrings. That much is true about "Ethan Frome." I cannot say the same about the other short stories in the collection. I continue to not be a fan of short stories, especially when the author dives into the story with not attempt at backstory. The lack of reference to anything else leaves the stories like hanging chads. This is definitely a story ("Ethan Frome") that should be read by all those who wish to be proficient in the classics. Other than that, I have no inclination to recommend this book and a distinct disinclination to recommend the other short stories.

  19. 5 out of 5

    Rachel Pieters

    The first story had promise. There was a lot of great tension and I thought it was going to be really fantastic at the end, but I got there and I was like, "Um, okay. That was anti-climactic and odd." It was a bit of a jump to read a novel written in this time period b/c Edith Wharton does embellish a bit on detail in old language, which is fine, and it was interesting to read about this time and place from that perspective, but at times I just wasn't entirely sure what she was saying. When I go The first story had promise. There was a lot of great tension and I thought it was going to be really fantastic at the end, but I got there and I was like, "Um, okay. That was anti-climactic and odd." It was a bit of a jump to read a novel written in this time period b/c Edith Wharton does embellish a bit on detail in old language, which is fine, and it was interesting to read about this time and place from that perspective, but at times I just wasn't entirely sure what she was saying. When I got to the second story, The Eyes, it was that old-school style of telling a story about a person telling a story about a person, which was unneeded. I wanted to yell, "Just get on with it, already!" And then the story itself that's being told was quite odd and boring. By the time I got a few pages into the third story, I had had enough. I closed the book right after thinking, "I'm hardly enjoying this anymore. Time to trade it in for something better." Good at some parts, quite disappointing at others. Sorry, old girl. Ya just didn't keep me hanging on.

  20. 5 out of 5

    Jennifer Woods

    I liked this book. I liked it so much better than The Chronicles of a Death Foretold. I could actually get into this book. The whole book I was thinking that Mattie and Ethan should be together instead of Zena and Ethan. However, I was also thinking how if he did marry Mattie it would be just like his marriage with Zena since both of them helped him care for someone in his family and he fell in love with each of them while this was occurring. The parallel between this book and Chronicle is the w I liked this book. I liked it so much better than The Chronicles of a Death Foretold. I could actually get into this book. The whole book I was thinking that Mattie and Ethan should be together instead of Zena and Ethan. However, I was also thinking how if he did marry Mattie it would be just like his marriage with Zena since both of them helped him care for someone in his family and he fell in love with each of them while this was occurring. The parallel between this book and Chronicle is the weather. The weather in both these stores sets the mood for death, illness, love, or whatever it may be.

  21. 4 out of 5

    Frank Spencer

    I just read Ethan Frome and will save the other stories for later. Her writing here is just as good as in The Age of Innocence. It is a lot darker here, with a lot of writing describing darkness, hopelessness and danger. This is surely an early book to have a suicide pact, but there it is. People stuck in situations and relationships that hold no advantage for them is certainly a theme. It is interesting that the horses are described by their breed or color like, "a big-boned grey." The horses s I just read Ethan Frome and will save the other stories for later. Her writing here is just as good as in The Age of Innocence. It is a lot darker here, with a lot of writing describing darkness, hopelessness and danger. This is surely an early book to have a suicide pact, but there it is. People stuck in situations and relationships that hold no advantage for them is certainly a theme. It is interesting that the horses are described by their breed or color like, "a big-boned grey." The horses seem to be the most reliable of the characters in the story. Don't read this if you're looking for something to put you in a good mood.

  22. 5 out of 5

    Alex Milledge

    If I read this book before reading Wharton's age of innocence, I would have been spared from saying much negative about her as an author. I have never read a book that made me want to cry than Ethan Frome. Well, maybe with the exception of when Piggy died in The Lord of the a Flies, but I can strongly relate to the struggles of Ethan Frome, in how he lives in a world that severely restricts his freedom and wishes to love a girl that he can't have. All of these emotions swelled in me and made me f If I read this book before reading Wharton's age of innocence, I would have been spared from saying much negative about her as an author. I have never read a book that made me want to cry than Ethan Frome. Well, maybe with the exception of when Piggy died in The Lord of the a Flies, but I can strongly relate to the struggles of Ethan Frome, in how he lives in a world that severely restricts his freedom and wishes to love a girl that he can't have. All of these emotions swelled in me and made me feel like I was Ethan Frome, which no novel has even done for me. Great read and spares any negative opinion of Wharton. She can now do no harm.

  23. 4 out of 5

    Barbara

    Edith Wharton has a way of describing the bleak, cold landscape of rural New England like no other; she also knows how to get into the head of her characters and illuminate their psychological torment and severe loneliness, matching the inner with the outer landscape seamlessly. Ethan Frome is both a pathetic and sympathetic character, eking out a a dispassionate life, until Mattie shines the only brightness in his miserable existence; but don't hope for a happily-ever-after ending. This is Whar Edith Wharton has a way of describing the bleak, cold landscape of rural New England like no other; she also knows how to get into the head of her characters and illuminate their psychological torment and severe loneliness, matching the inner with the outer landscape seamlessly. Ethan Frome is both a pathetic and sympathetic character, eking out a a dispassionate life, until Mattie shines the only brightness in his miserable existence; but don't hope for a happily-ever-after ending. This is Wharton at her best. A must read classic.

  24. 4 out of 5

    Lea Ann

    I try to pick up a classic every now and then and I'm glad I gave Ethan Frome a shot. It was $1.00 at my library's book sale and was much shorter Thai thought it would be. I don't know if I consider Ethan Frome a tragic character. I would have liked to see the characters go through a bit more to get to their final ending, but Ethan is a very well developed character given the length of the story. The lack of a happy ending was great though because I always consider complex characters and consequ I try to pick up a classic every now and then and I'm glad I gave Ethan Frome a shot. It was $1.00 at my library's book sale and was much shorter Thai thought it would be. I don't know if I consider Ethan Frome a tragic character. I would have liked to see the characters go through a bit more to get to their final ending, but Ethan is a very well developed character given the length of the story. The lack of a happy ending was great though because I always consider complex characters and consequences for actions more realistic.

  25. 4 out of 5

    Rosanna

    This is the first novel I have read from Edith Wharton. I loved it. I'm certain I'll be reading more from her before long. As a technical critique: it was well written, straight forward with a singular theme, void of unnecessary frills, and certainly memorable. As an emotional critique: I was completely sucked in and transported from my living room to a sleigh in 1911 New England. I enjoyed reading this story, and my heart aches for Ethan.

  26. 5 out of 5

    Candace Hinkle

    "Ethan Frome" is a great novella. It is a classic tragedy that is warmly and tightly woven. The reason that I gave it 3 stars is that the other stories in the volume are not as great. The one exception is the hilarious "Xyngu" - a satire on women at the time who hung out in "culture clubs". Overall, it is really worth reading BUT if you want Edith Wharton at her best, you really should read "Age of Innocence".

  27. 5 out of 5

    Sarah

    This edition contains the short stories The Pretext, Afterward, The Legend, Xingu. Ethan Frome was a really amazing story and there was something unexpected for me at the end. It was brilliant but I won't be watching the movie. Each of the stories was very solid, except for Xingu, which was absolutely a five star story and it was very funny. I loved that one.

  28. 5 out of 5

    Morninglight Mama

    I did like it, yes, although there's really no way to feel happy while reading this story at any point. I'm a fan of Wharton's writing style, but the melancholy and misery that pervade this novel are overwhelming and definitely affecting. Poor Ethan. Poor Mattie. And poor Zeena. That's all I can think after reading this short novel for the second time in my life.

  29. 4 out of 5

    Stephanie

    The short stories in this book are somewhat dark and eerie. It's interesting because the book is written with elaborate text yet the stories are mysterious and weird. It's a rather strange combination.

  30. 4 out of 5

    JustWorkAlready

    How dare that back-stabbing cheating little punk run off with her little cousin and expect everything to be OK afterwards. i mean he was, what, 30 and she was, what, 19? *mumbles* what an arogant punk...

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