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Ethan Frome (1911). by: Edith Wharton: Ethan Frome Is a Novel Published in 1911 by the Pulitzer Prize-Winning American Author Edith Wharton.

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Ethan Frome is a novel published in 1911 by the Pulitzer Prize-winning American author Edith Wharton. It is set in the fictitious town of Starkfield, Massachusetts. The novel was adapted into a film, Ethan Frome, in 1993.Ethan Frome is set in the fictional New England town of Starkfield, where a visiting engineer tells the story of his encounter with Ethan Frome, a man wit Ethan Frome is a novel published in 1911 by the Pulitzer Prize-winning American author Edith Wharton. It is set in the fictitious town of Starkfield, Massachusetts. The novel was adapted into a film, Ethan Frome, in 1993.Ethan Frome is set in the fictional New England town of Starkfield, where a visiting engineer tells the story of his encounter with Ethan Frome, a man with a history of thwarted dreams and desires. The accumulated longing of Frome ends in an ironic turn of events. His initial impressions are based on his observations of Frome going about his mundane tasks in Starkfield, and something about him catches the eye and curiosity of the visitor, but no one in the town seems interested in revealing many details about the man or his history - or perhaps they are not able to. The narrator ultimately finds himself in the position of staying overnight at Frome's house in order to escape a winter storm, and from there he observes Frome and his private circumstances, which he shares and which triggers other people in town to be more forthcoming with their own knowledge and impressions.[2] The novel is framed by the literary device of an extended flashback. The prologue, which is neither named as such nor numbered, opens with an unnamed male narrator spending a winter in Starkfield while in the area on business. He spots a limping, quiet man around the village, who is somehow compelling in his demeanor and carriage. This is Ethan Frome, who is a local fixture of the community, having been a lifelong resident. Frome is described as "the most striking figure in Starkfield," "the ruin of a man" with a "careless powerful look...in spite of a lameness checking each step like the jerk of a chain." Curious, the narrator sets out to learn about him. He learns that Frome's limp arose from having been injured in a "smash-up" twenty-four years before, but further details are not forthcoming, and the narrator fails to learn much more from Frome's fellow townspeople other than that Ethan's attempt at higher education decades before was thwarted by the sudden illness of his father following an injury, forcing his return to the farm to assist his parents, never to leave again. Because people seem not to wish to speak other than in vague and general terms about Frome's past, the narrator's curiosity grows, but he learns little more. Chance circumstances arise that allow the narrator to hire Frome as his driver for a week. A severe snowstorm during one of their journeys forces Frome to allow the narrator to shelter at his home one night. Just as the two are entering Frome's house, the prologue ends. We then embark on the "first" chapter (Chapter I), which takes place twenty-four years prior. The narration switches from the first-person narrator of the prologue to a limited third-person narrator.................. Edith Wharton ( born Edith Newbold Jones; January 24, 1862 - August 11, 1937) was a Pulitzer Prize-winning American novelist, short story writer, and designer. She was nominated for the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1927, 1928 and 1930.Wharton combined her insider's view of America's privileged classes with a brilliant, natural wit to write humorous, incisive novels and short stories of social and psychological insight. She was well acquainted with many of her era's other literary and public figures, including Theodore Roosevelt. Edith Wharton was born Edith Newbold Jones to George Frederic Jones and Lucretia Stevens Rhinelander at their brownstone at 14 West Twenty-third Street in New York City. She had two much older brothers, Frederic Rhinelander, who was sixteen, and Henry Edward, who was eleven. She was baptized April 20, 1862, Easter Sunday, at Grace Church. To her friends and family she was known as "Pussy Jones." The saying "keeping up with the Joneses" is said to refer to her father's family..................


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Ethan Frome is a novel published in 1911 by the Pulitzer Prize-winning American author Edith Wharton. It is set in the fictitious town of Starkfield, Massachusetts. The novel was adapted into a film, Ethan Frome, in 1993.Ethan Frome is set in the fictional New England town of Starkfield, where a visiting engineer tells the story of his encounter with Ethan Frome, a man wit Ethan Frome is a novel published in 1911 by the Pulitzer Prize-winning American author Edith Wharton. It is set in the fictitious town of Starkfield, Massachusetts. The novel was adapted into a film, Ethan Frome, in 1993.Ethan Frome is set in the fictional New England town of Starkfield, where a visiting engineer tells the story of his encounter with Ethan Frome, a man with a history of thwarted dreams and desires. The accumulated longing of Frome ends in an ironic turn of events. His initial impressions are based on his observations of Frome going about his mundane tasks in Starkfield, and something about him catches the eye and curiosity of the visitor, but no one in the town seems interested in revealing many details about the man or his history - or perhaps they are not able to. The narrator ultimately finds himself in the position of staying overnight at Frome's house in order to escape a winter storm, and from there he observes Frome and his private circumstances, which he shares and which triggers other people in town to be more forthcoming with their own knowledge and impressions.[2] The novel is framed by the literary device of an extended flashback. The prologue, which is neither named as such nor numbered, opens with an unnamed male narrator spending a winter in Starkfield while in the area on business. He spots a limping, quiet man around the village, who is somehow compelling in his demeanor and carriage. This is Ethan Frome, who is a local fixture of the community, having been a lifelong resident. Frome is described as "the most striking figure in Starkfield," "the ruin of a man" with a "careless powerful look...in spite of a lameness checking each step like the jerk of a chain." Curious, the narrator sets out to learn about him. He learns that Frome's limp arose from having been injured in a "smash-up" twenty-four years before, but further details are not forthcoming, and the narrator fails to learn much more from Frome's fellow townspeople other than that Ethan's attempt at higher education decades before was thwarted by the sudden illness of his father following an injury, forcing his return to the farm to assist his parents, never to leave again. Because people seem not to wish to speak other than in vague and general terms about Frome's past, the narrator's curiosity grows, but he learns little more. Chance circumstances arise that allow the narrator to hire Frome as his driver for a week. A severe snowstorm during one of their journeys forces Frome to allow the narrator to shelter at his home one night. Just as the two are entering Frome's house, the prologue ends. We then embark on the "first" chapter (Chapter I), which takes place twenty-four years prior. The narration switches from the first-person narrator of the prologue to a limited third-person narrator.................. Edith Wharton ( born Edith Newbold Jones; January 24, 1862 - August 11, 1937) was a Pulitzer Prize-winning American novelist, short story writer, and designer. She was nominated for the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1927, 1928 and 1930.Wharton combined her insider's view of America's privileged classes with a brilliant, natural wit to write humorous, incisive novels and short stories of social and psychological insight. She was well acquainted with many of her era's other literary and public figures, including Theodore Roosevelt. Edith Wharton was born Edith Newbold Jones to George Frederic Jones and Lucretia Stevens Rhinelander at their brownstone at 14 West Twenty-third Street in New York City. She had two much older brothers, Frederic Rhinelander, who was sixteen, and Henry Edward, who was eleven. She was baptized April 20, 1862, Easter Sunday, at Grace Church. To her friends and family she was known as "Pussy Jones." The saying "keeping up with the Joneses" is said to refer to her father's family..................

30 review for Ethan Frome (1911). by: Edith Wharton: Ethan Frome Is a Novel Published in 1911 by the Pulitzer Prize-Winning American Author Edith Wharton.

  1. 4 out of 5

    Jeffrey Keeten

    “He seemed a part of the mute melancholy landscape, an incarnation of it's frozen woe, with all that was warm and sentient in him fast bound below the surface; but there was nothing nothing unfriendly in his silence. I simply felt that he lived in a depth of moral isolation too remote for casual access, and I had the sense that his loneliness was not merely the result of his personal plight, tragic as I guessed that to be, but had in it, as Harmon Gow had hinted, the profound accumulated cold of “He seemed a part of the mute melancholy landscape, an incarnation of it's frozen woe, with all that was warm and sentient in him fast bound below the surface; but there was nothing nothing unfriendly in his silence. I simply felt that he lived in a depth of moral isolation too remote for casual access, and I had the sense that his loneliness was not merely the result of his personal plight, tragic as I guessed that to be, but had in it, as Harmon Gow had hinted, the profound accumulated cold of many Starkfield winters.” Our narrator, we never learn his name, hired Ethan Frome to drive him around in a sleigh for a few days. A winter storm necessitates that he spend an evening and a night in Frome’s house. He meets Mattie the cousin and Zeena the wife. The situation existing in the House of Frome is an odd one and his natural curiosity spurs him to start an informal investigation into the life of Ethan Frome. After the opening chapter we flash back twenty-four years to a man in the process of waking up from a life he has found himself trapped in. When Ethan meets Mattie an internal conflict begins. Mattie reads and she reminds on a daily basis, just by her presence, the part of himself that vanished like smoke years ago when he made the decision to stay in Starkfield and take care of his momma. He borrows books from her and starts to remember that other Frome, that other man, who wanted so much more. He is a reed, long bent, that has suddenly found a way to stretch toward the sun once again. Mattie is a lost soul as well. She hasn’t found her place in the world. She has been sickly, too delicate to find work, and is basically living off the “kindness” of her cousin Zeena. Truth be known, Zeena just wanted someone to take more of the load of her housework. Mattie tries, but never does come up to the expectations of her cousin. Frome can’t help, but compare the differences in the two women. ”Against the dark background of the kitchen she stood up tall and angular, one hand drawing a quilted counterpane to her flat breast, while the other held a lamp. The light, on a level with her chin, drew out of the darkness her puckered throat and the projecting wrist of her hand that clutched the quilt, and deepened fantastically the hollow and prominences of her high-boned face under the ring of crimping pins…. He felt as if he had never before known what his wife looked like.” ------------------------------------------------------------------------------- ”She held the light at the same level, and it drew out with the same distinctness her slim young throat and the brown wrist no bigger than a child’s. Then, striking upward, it threw a lustrous fleck on her lips, edging her eyes with velvet shade, and laid a milky whiteness above the black curve of her brows.” Drawing from the CD cover of the Douglas Allanbrook Opera of Ethan Frome. It is not an even contest, Zeena is seven years older than Ethan, but a lifetime spent embracing her own illnesses has made her a hypochondriac. As if to justify her state of mind, lines of disapproval and discomfort have etched themselves into her face and withered the bloom of her youth. Ethan exchanged a sickly mother for a sickly wife. He is trapped in a loop and watching his own life through a veil in gray scale. Until: “They seemed to come suddenly upon happiness as if they had surprised a butterfly in the winter woods” A man deserves some happiness. After a lifetime of devoting himself to others he is on the verge of taking back control of his own life. There is this poignant moment when Mrs. Hale lets him know that his sacrifice has not went unnoticed. ”I don’t know anybody around here’s had more sickness than Zeena. I always tell Mr. Hale I don’t know what she’d ‘a’ done if she hadn’t ‘a’ had you to look after her; and I used to say the same thing ‘bout your mother. You’ve had an awful mean time, Ethan Frome.” As Zeena starts to become suspicious of Ethan’s growing feelings for Mattie she takes steps to send her away and finds a new maid to come live in the house. “She had taken everything else from him, and now she meant to take the one thing that made up for it all.” Wharton, deftly, has both characters dance around their feelings. Each filled with longing, believing the other feels the same, but unable to tell each other how they really feel until suddenly they are faced with never seeing each other again. ”They had never before avowed their inclination so openly, and Ethan, for a moment, had the illusion that he was a free man, wooing the girl he meant to marry. He looked at her hair and longed to touch it again, and to tell her that is smelt of the woods; but he had never learned to say such things.” One kiss can change everything. (view spoiler)[They commit a desperate act, born out of fear and sadness, that leaves them both shattered shells of themselves. This impulsive act destroys the very best of what they love about each other, and forever leaves those apparitions of themselves suspended on a sled going down a slope. (hide spoiler)] The Mount Edith Wharton wrote this book during a time when she was having difficulties with her husband, Edward (Teddy) Robbins Wharton. She certainly seemed to feel as ensnared by marriage as her character Ethan Frome, even though she was living on her beautiful Lenox, Massachusetts estate called The Mount at the time. Even lovely surroundings will lose their luster if you are unhappy with your circumstances. Wharton was nominated for a Nobel Prize in 1927, 1928, and 1930. She never did win the Nobel, but in 1921, for Age of Innocence (1920), she did become the first woman to win the Pulitzer Prize. This book seems to attract a mixture of positive and negative reviews today much the same way it did when it was first published. Lionel Trilling says it was lacking in moral or ethical significance. The type of criticism that leaves me shaking my head wondering if we read the same book. One of my favorite pictures of Edith Wharton Another interest point was the theme departure this book has from the bulk of Wharton’s writing. Most of her books are centered around the elite New York society, but this one was set in rural Starkfield and involved characters of the lower classes. Despite the change in venue Wharton’s signature writing style is on wondrous display. We have all felt trapped by our circumstances, maybe a stale relationship or an unfulfilling job or a long stint caring for a sick relative. This book is a masterpiece because it is simply unforgettable and those that love it and even those that didn’t like it are going to have moments in their lives when they think about Ethan Frome, and wish they had a sled and a slope of snow that will take them somewhere else. If you wish to see more of my most recent book and movie reviews, visit http://www.jeffreykeeten.com I also have a Facebook blogger page at: https://www.facebook.com/JeffreyKeeten

  2. 5 out of 5

    Brina

    Because March is women's history month, I made it a point to only read women authors over the course of the month. As the month winds to a close, I have visited many places and cultures, learning about historical events from a female perspective. Yet, to observe women's history month, it would not be complete with paying homage to classic authors. In this regard, I decided to read Ethan Frome, Edith Wharton's tragic novella. Ethan Frome of Starkfield, Massachusetts has known much tragedy in his Because March is women's history month, I made it a point to only read women authors over the course of the month. As the month winds to a close, I have visited many places and cultures, learning about historical events from a female perspective. Yet, to observe women's history month, it would not be complete with paying homage to classic authors. In this regard, I decided to read Ethan Frome, Edith Wharton's tragic novella. Ethan Frome of Starkfield, Massachusetts has known much tragedy in his life. First his father grew ill, leaving young Frome to move back to care for the family farm. Then his mother grew sick, and a young relation named Zenobia Silver came to live with the Fromes to care for her. Without much of a future besides the farm in his possession, Frome falls for Zenobia, and they marry. Yet, Zenobia is not a country girl, and Frome hopes to sell the farm so that he can move his wife into town. Tragedy strikes again as now Zenobia grows ill. Frome is unable to sell the farm and is isolated in the country. Zenobia'a relations suggest that a young cousin Mattie Silver come and care for her in the manner that Zenobia had cared for Frome's mother. While Zenobia is ailing and supposedly on her deathbed, Frome starts showing feelings toward Mattie. What ensues for the rest of the novella is his conflicted feelings toward both women, as he considers his future. Wharton paints a picture of a grim reality for Frome. That the story occurs in winter in a town named Starkfield is no coincidence. Her witticism as she debates whether Frome should honor his wife's feelings or leave her and elope with Mattie are uncanny. Even though Starkfield appears as a depressing town to life in, Wharton's use of language and plot development had me reading to discover the denouement of Frome's sad tale. The fact that she included her usual twist toward the end enhanced the story. I have only discovered Edith Wharton over this March's women's history month reads, but I find it remarkable that her writing can go from comedy in one story to tragedy in another and still contain a high level of wit. She wrote at a time when the novel was dominated by the middle class, and was one of few upper crust society women to write. That she entered a male profession and eventually won a Pulitzer for her writing, makes her career all the more impressive. Although Ethan Frome is a tragedy, I found the story interesting enough to hold my attention, especially as Wharton inserted her mark at the end. A four star read, I look to read more of Wharton's work in the future.

  3. 5 out of 5

    dead letter office

    This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here. This is a romantic tragedy that culminates in a sledding accident. I will just say a few brief words about that. First, there is probably a reason that sledding accidents don't figure more prominently in tragedies. Shakespeare wrote like 13 tragedies and to the best of my knowledge none featured a sledding accident (I have not read Titus Andronicus, so I can't be sure). If Shakespeare doesn't need to include a sled wreck, then neither do you. I will also say that I found Ethan and Mattie's attemp This is a romantic tragedy that culminates in a sledding accident. I will just say a few brief words about that. First, there is probably a reason that sledding accidents don't figure more prominently in tragedies. Shakespeare wrote like 13 tragedies and to the best of my knowledge none featured a sledding accident (I have not read Titus Andronicus, so I can't be sure). If Shakespeare doesn't need to include a sled wreck, then neither do you. I will also say that I found Ethan and Mattie's attempted double suicide by sledding a little hard to take seriously. I mean, there are probably dozens of reasons that serious people don't rank sled-tree collisions on their Top 5 List of preferred suicide methods, but certainly the fact that adult doubles sledding is inherently ridiculous is one. Another that springs to mind is the unreliability of trying to kill yourself by sledding into a tree. Ethan ends up breaking his legs and paralyzing Mattie, which is pretty much the best you can realistically hope to do if you sled into a tree. Really, I find it remarkable that Edith Wharton's reputation survived Ethan Frome and his sled antics. It makes me want to read House of Mirth, because it must be REALLY REALLY good. As a side note, this is *exactly* the kind of ridiculous melodramatic bullshit I always had to read in high school. Teachers getting all worked up about the symbolism of the New England winter and failing to understand why 16-year-olds don't respond to the tragedy of star-crossed lovers doubling each other into a tree on a sled. Please.

  4. 4 out of 5

    karen

    spoilers?? what spoilers?? i have changed my stance on the cover. a) initially, i thought that it was showing an altogether different type of activity, and then b) when ariel called it a spoiler, i reinterpreted it to something else and was still wrong, and then c) everything that may potentially be spoiled is pretty much spelled out in the first ten pages. so is that a spoiler, or is that foreshadowing?? tomato, potato... what is so excellent about this book is that it is not at all a depressing spoilers?? what spoilers?? i have changed my stance on the cover. a) initially, i thought that it was showing an altogether different type of activity, and then b) when ariel called it a spoiler, i reinterpreted it to something else and was still wrong, and then c) everything that may potentially be spoiled is pretty much spelled out in the first ten pages. so is that a spoiler, or is that foreshadowing?? tomato, potato... what is so excellent about this book is that it is not at all a depressing book while you are reading it - it is an intensely hopeful book. but then - gutpunch!! the depressing bits happen offscreen, after all the meat of the story has been ... digested?? this metaphor is escaping me... but in the lacuna between when the story ends and the nosy new kid-narrator in town comes on the scene. (such a fantastic new-england type character - "hi, i just moved in, tell me all your neighbor's secrets!!") the tragic bits are in imagining what these characters went through between point a and point b. so shivery-horrible! and that kind of story is right up my alley. great description, great pacing - simple story, but haunting and devastating longing. and aftermath. i love aftermath. i liked this much more than summer, and i may read more wharton based on the strength of this one. hmmm... who could i find to advise me....???

  5. 4 out of 5

    Fabian

    Magnificent, spectacular... I somehow always feel I must assign many types of superlatives to the magnificent & spectacular Edith Wharton! Definitely top ten writers of ALL TIME contender. Her best is "Age of Innocence," and her not-as-much (personally, alas) is "House of Mirth", but sandwiched between them is this tense novella about the restrictions of "unconventional" feeling. And it has the type of invigorating force that compels the reader to do his one job and do it good. I adore this Magnificent, spectacular... I somehow always feel I must assign many types of superlatives to the magnificent & spectacular Edith Wharton! Definitely top ten writers of ALL TIME contender. Her best is "Age of Innocence," and her not-as-much (personally, alas) is "House of Mirth", but sandwiched between them is this tense novella about the restrictions of "unconventional" feeling. And it has the type of invigorating force that compels the reader to do his one job and do it good. I adore this slim tome, admire Wharton for being absolutely angelic in her rare & immense perfection.

  6. 5 out of 5

    George

    "Hey Mrs. Kinetta, are you still inflicting all that horrible Ethan Frome damage on your students?" - John Cusack, Grosse Pointe Blank If you're looking for a book with an ever-increasing level of misery, this one is hard to beat. Try this test the next time you're with a group of your friends: just mention "Ethan Frome" out loud, and see how many of them groan audibly.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Orsodimondo

    L’INVERNO DEL CUORE Liam Neeson è Ethan Frome nel film del 1993 diretto da John Madden. Non era tanto la sua statura, perché quasi tutti gli “indigeni” spiccavano a prima vista tra le razze forestiere più tozze proprio per la loro altezza dinoccolata; era piuttosto quel suo aspetto naturalmente vigoroso, nonostante fosse talmente zoppo che, a ogni passo, sembrava che una catena legata ai piedi lo trattenesse di colpo… Aveva nel volto qualcosa di desolato e di chiuso e appariva così rigido e bianco L’INVERNO DEL CUORE Liam Neeson è Ethan Frome nel film del 1993 diretto da John Madden. Non era tanto la sua statura, perché quasi tutti gli “indigeni” spiccavano a prima vista tra le razze forestiere più tozze proprio per la loro altezza dinoccolata; era piuttosto quel suo aspetto naturalmente vigoroso, nonostante fosse talmente zoppo che, a ogni passo, sembrava che una catena legata ai piedi lo trattenesse di colpo… Aveva nel volto qualcosa di desolato e di chiuso e appariva così rigido e bianco che lo avevo preso per un vecchio, al punto che, quando mi dissero che non aveva più di cinquantadue anni, rimasi stupito. Ecco la perfetta descrizione di quello che è stato il suo interprete più convincente, seppure in un film non molto convincente, nonostante il cast. Mi riferisco a Liam Neeson, che mi pare un match ideale. Joan Allen è la moglie Zeena. La Wharton si allontana decisamente dall’ambiente che gli è più familiare, quello dell’establishment (parvenu o meno), al quale lei stessa apparteneva. E si allontana dal milieu urbano che di più non si potrebbe: New England, Massachusetts, un paesino immaginario, Starkfield, montagna neve ghiaccio freddo, gente che vive e parla in accordo col luogo, e cioè poche parole, gesti e sentimenti essenziali, duri, perfino aspri. C’è un narratore senza nome che si deve trattenere a Starkfield per affari: un giorno nota la figura alta e zoppicante di Ethan Frome e chiede in giro chi sia. Ascolta le risposte, ma non ottiene molti racconti dalla gente del villaggio, che, come già detto, sono parchi di parole, gesti, e sentimenti. Il narratore assume Ethan come guidatore del suo calesse, e così ha modo di saperne di più. Fine del prologo. Da qui, siamo di colpo proiettati un quarto di secolo indietro, il racconto da prima persona cambia in terza, e noi lettori diventiamo spettatori della storia di Frome. Patricia Arquette è Mattie. Qui, Ethan e Mattie sono già innamorati, vorrebbero fuggire insieme, se solo avessero il denaro sufficiente. Lo slittino che Ethan trasporta è elemento essenziale di questo punto del racconto. Ethan era via da Starkfield per studiare all’università (come dice un paesano al narratore, I migliori se ne vanno). Ma Frome deve ritornare di corsa a casa perché il padre rimane ferito in un incidente di lavoro. Da quel momento, non si allontana più da Starkfield. Da quel momento vive un quotidiano immutabile, in qualche modo lugubre: sposa Zeena (diminutivo di Zenobia) che si è presa cura dei genitori vecchi e malati di Ethan. Zeena ha anni 35 anni, lui invece 28 – lui è giovane e vigoroso, lei sembra già una vecchia. Un matrimonio di compensazione, senza amore, nella reciproca rassegnazione, destinati insieme a una vita che ti lega senza corde e ti uccide senza veleni. Zeena è un’ipocondriaca che lamenta stanchezza e salute cagionevole. Perciò chiama una sua lontana parente, Mattie, ad aiutarla in casa e accudirla. Mattie è giovane e non ancora piallata da Starkfield. Tra lei e Ethan man mano si accende una fiammella che va crescendo. Fino a che… Zeena non è per niente contenta della felicità della nuova coppia, guai in vista. C’è un forte senso di fato in questo breve romanzo, che è una piccola gemma. Il fato è sempre primitivo, ancestrale, tanto più in un ambiente rurale ed essenziale come Starkfield. Parola, il fato, che si tira dietro, invariabilmente, un senso di tragedia greca. Il fato non può essere benigno, non può compensare, redimere, soddisfare. Il fato punisce. Punisce anche gli innocenti. Ma tanto, nessuno è innocente. In questo caso è un fato provvisto di beffarda, direi anche perversa, ironia, che ribalta i ruoli tra i tre personaggi. Ethan e Mattie due cuori innamorati nel luogo e nella stagione sbagliata.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Henry Avila

    In the bleak setting of 1880's Starkfield, appropriately named, (Lenox, western Massachusetts) where it always seems like perpetual winter, and its cold, dark, gloomy, ambiance, a poor, uneasy farmer, Ethan Frome, 28, is all alone, his mother has just died, the woman who took good care of her, Zenobia (Zeena) Pierce, is about to leave, though seven years junior to the lady, he purposes, she accepts gladly and the biggest mistake he believes, of his life, occurs. Zeena, not a beauty, likes nursin In the bleak setting of 1880's Starkfield, appropriately named, (Lenox, western Massachusetts) where it always seems like perpetual winter, and its cold, dark, gloomy, ambiance, a poor, uneasy farmer, Ethan Frome, 28, is all alone, his mother has just died, the woman who took good care of her, Zenobia (Zeena) Pierce, is about to leave, though seven years junior to the lady, he purposes, she accepts gladly and the biggest mistake he believes, of his life, occurs. Zeena, not a beauty, likes nursing sick people, the capable woman knows what to do, unlike the hapless Frome, but soon develops a strange illness herself, while idle, seeing many doctors, they tell her what she wants to hear, given some pills, advice and then off to another one. The hypochondriac continues this ceaseless pattern, Ethan becomes quite disillusioned, after only a year of marriage, Zeena's, physicians prescribe that she get a maid, to help with the hard, tiresome housework, which is ludicrous, since her husband does most of it...Yet the struggling farmer, not the best around, has troubles of his own, a deteriorating, old house, that frequent blizzards, cause much damage to, a failing, lumber mill, also, and the new expenses... he reluctantly agrees, though, Mattie Silver, Zeena's petite cousin arrives, with no close family left, she is healthy, cheerful, lively and yes, pretty, Mr. Frome, a lonely man, falls in love, but naturally keeps it a deep secret, his sour, silent wife lives in another world and does not notice. He begins to daydream, neglects his not prosperous farm and negligible mill, thinking about pleasant thoughts, their few walks and rides together... bliss. Does Mattie, not the best maid, either, rather more a dreamer, like Ethan, love him too, the possibilities are endless, thinks he, can they dare run away together, to the western frontier, forget the people they abandoned and live only for themselves? The triangle if it exists, will have winners and losers, but Ethan must find out quickly how Mattie feels, a new woman is coming to replace Miss Silver, at the insistence of the unpleasant Zeena, the crises looms, decisions have to be made now, the scared girl has no place to live...An uncommonly captivating story of love, ( but not for all, the narrative can be difficult to digest) responsibility, and propriety, in an age that demands this from everyone, scandals are not tolerated by society, all must know the rules, the few who brake them are ostracized in perpetuity...

  9. 5 out of 5

    Kalliope

    CAMOUFLAGE There is the stark landscape of the stark field. Starkfield it is. Then slowly, through third party eyes, with all the distance that this implies, we begin to discern a shape that slowly acquires its own entity against its background. No, not even third party eyes, but third parties of the third party. Even further removed. For the book begins thus: I had the story, bit by bit, from various people, and, as generally happens in such cases, each time it was a different story. And thus, CAMOUFLAGE There is the stark landscape of the stark field. Starkfield it is. Then slowly, through third party eyes, with all the distance that this implies, we begin to discern a shape that slowly acquires its own entity against its background. No, not even third party eyes, but third parties of the third party. Even further removed. For the book begins thus: I had the story, bit by bit, from various people, and, as generally happens in such cases, each time it was a different story. And thus, in this remoteness, emerges a figure, and the third party is discarded and we get a lot closer, sitting or, or reading, or looking from the first row. But still. Hardly discernible, even if the title helps to focus on the developing shape. He seemed a part of the mute melancholy landscape, an incarnation of its frozen woe, with all that was warm and sentient in him fast bound below the surface.. . Veiled are also the rest of the characters. They all live a discoverable and outward, but their feelings are hidden: to the others and to themselves. Again, as one tunes in one’s eye, one’s senses, one begins to discern those covered, those concealed and unformed emotions. Feelings are so clouded that it takes them years, for people living under the same roof, to identify them, to let them free. Actions and speech of the people in Starkfield are all concealments. They do not perceive what they are, or identify what think; they interact without discovering the other person. Appearances delude. But then there is all that snow, cold, brisk and bleak: paralyzing. This is so until disaster strikes – and then the characters continue to live, or die, secluded in their eclipsed-away house, as if they were already living, or not living, in their graves. And their physical appearances take on the abandoned, disgruntled, nature of their settings. Even the author has camouflaged. The writer of the upper echelon of social classes of the New England is here transporting us to poverty and to rural and snowy settings. Unrecognizable. After reading The Reef, I had to rub my eyes and squint if I were to accept that this was Wharton’s world, and that I was not reading something akin to Growth of the Soil. Wharton has donned a Norwegian cloak. But her words...., her words lead you. And, eventually, one can see the cat... (view spoiler)[It was on the first photo too. (hide spoiler)]

  10. 5 out of 5

    Julie

    Sparse prose is sexy. Sexy. And that's why I've given it a special shelf on my page, called a buck and change. Guess what else sparse prose is? Rare. That's why I have only seven books on there. Why? Why are these precious books that fall under 200 pages so rare? Because writers tend to overwrite everything. But not Edith Wharton, the queen of sparse prose. And Ms. Wharton, though she may appear stolid in her old black and white portraits, was one sexy lady. She manages in Ethan Frome to take one anti-h Sparse prose is sexy. Sexy. And that's why I've given it a special shelf on my page, called a buck and change. Guess what else sparse prose is? Rare. That's why I have only seven books on there. Why? Why are these precious books that fall under 200 pages so rare? Because writers tend to overwrite everything. But not Edith Wharton, the queen of sparse prose. And Ms. Wharton, though she may appear stolid in her old black and white portraits, was one sexy lady. She manages in Ethan Frome to take one anti-hero, one untamed shrew, and one manipulative maiden, and proves, in less than 100 pages, that winter, isolation and poverty do not discriminate. Wharton is never a sell-out. She gives you foreshadowing, symbolism and metaphors in just the right dosages, and she never wastes your time. And when one red dish shatters into sharp pieces all over that never-ending landscape of white. . . you can not help but be bewildered at what an exceptional writer can do, especially in succinct and clever prose.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Jan-Maat

    Just when you think that it's safe to kiss someone you're not married to, just then, disaster lurks barely a sledge ride away! Ethan Frome is remarkable, in probability wrongly, in my mind for its relentless bleakness. This is an American novella, by an American author in which there is no escape. The West is there, but the protagonist can't afford the journey. This an impoverished landscape, the modest hero ploughs an infertile furrow. An ungallant way to refer to a marriage, but there you go, i Just when you think that it's safe to kiss someone you're not married to, just then, disaster lurks barely a sledge ride away! Ethan Frome is remarkable, in probability wrongly, in my mind for its relentless bleakness. This is an American novella, by an American author in which there is no escape. The West is there, but the protagonist can't afford the journey. This an impoverished landscape, the modest hero ploughs an infertile furrow. An ungallant way to refer to a marriage, but there you go, in Ethan Frome marriage is duty, more burdensome than most. A best pickle dish is too precious to use and when broken is carried out with as much solemnity as a dead body, perhaps more. The consequences of sin are life long, while grace, let alone redemption, are entirely absent. Then again perhaps it is natural if in a country there is an overwhelming belief in optimism, expansion, and the possibility of forever starting again that a contrasting voice emerges that says 'yes, that may well be the American dream, but this is the American reality'. Very oddly Ethan Frome reminds me of The Great Gatsby and those "boats against the current, borne back ceaselessly into the past". There some surface glitter covered over an essential immobility that here is plain and unvarnished. This stands in contrast to relentless reinvention, a rootlessness that allows renewal, the kind of thing we see in Sister Carrie the woman from the back of beyond becoming a star of the New York stage. This seems to be a dying society on the edges of buoyant country. The narrator's opening remarks talk of the natives, like Frome, and the later emigrants. Although the narrator seem to approve of the old blood, the implication of the story is that they are an evolutionary dead end. Too tied down to achieve anything new. The need to take a trip by horse drawn vehicle to the train station suggests this is a stagnating backwater, cut off from the energetic currants of the nineteenth century let alone those of the twentieth. If the present does reach into the town it is only through the patent medicines that validates Zenobia Frome's status as being perpetually sick. This work that Lisa Simpson was so pleased to gain a copy of to call her own is like a little piece of Thomas Hardy, transplanted to New England. A corner of a foreign field that is for ever Wessex.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Duane

    I had already read most of Edith Wharton's major novels by the time I got around to reading Ethan Frome, and I was surprised by how different it was. Where did this come from? Wharton came from the high society of New York City which she so adeptly portrayed in The Age of Innocence and The House of Mirth. Ethan Frome was set in a small New England town aptly named Starkville, and concerns the life of a poor farmer and his unhappy marriage. His wife's cousin comes to live with them, Ethan falls i I had already read most of Edith Wharton's major novels by the time I got around to reading Ethan Frome, and I was surprised by how different it was. Where did this come from? Wharton came from the high society of New York City which she so adeptly portrayed in The Age of Innocence and The House of Mirth. Ethan Frome was set in a small New England town aptly named Starkville, and concerns the life of a poor farmer and his unhappy marriage. His wife's cousin comes to live with them, Ethan falls in love and the story descends from there to it's tragic conclusion. It turns out Edith had heard an account of a sledding accident and thought it would make a good subject for a story. The unhappy marriage and subsequent love affair mirrored Wharton's own life. Ethan Frome remains one of Wharton's most recognized novels.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Trish

    They stood together in the gloom of the spruces, an empty world glimmering about them wide and gray under the stars. The perfect soundtrack for this novel: "I Need My Girl" by The National. Wow, I'm speechless. It's ten past midnight and I just couldn't go to sleep without finishing this story. Don't let its size fool you, every page of this book is full of raw emotion that will leave you feeling heavy and achy all over. The writing is so elegant and the prose, every word, every phrase was thought They stood together in the gloom of the spruces, an empty world glimmering about them wide and gray under the stars. The perfect soundtrack for this novel: "I Need My Girl" by The National. Wow, I'm speechless. It's ten past midnight and I just couldn't go to sleep without finishing this story. Don't let its size fool you, every page of this book is full of raw emotion that will leave you feeling heavy and achy all over. The writing is so elegant and the prose, every word, every phrase was thoughtfully placed and had significance. Oh I just can't praise Edith Wharton enough. This is arguably the best book I've read so far in 2016.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Shovelmonkey1

    I have been on a bit of a four-star roll recently and am beginning to fear that I accidentally pressed against my generous ratings button when I was slumped against the bookcase last week trying to figure out what to read next. It's cold and dreary outside and I was seeking something warm and fuzzy, maybe a bit light hearted or some sort of serial fantasy to see me through the onset of the winter months.... and then my hand brushed by the spine of Ethan Frome... Which is clearly none of the thing I have been on a bit of a four-star roll recently and am beginning to fear that I accidentally pressed against my generous ratings button when I was slumped against the bookcase last week trying to figure out what to read next. It's cold and dreary outside and I was seeking something warm and fuzzy, maybe a bit light hearted or some sort of serial fantasy to see me through the onset of the winter months.... and then my hand brushed by the spine of Ethan Frome... Which is clearly none of the things I was looking for but I picked it up and read it anyway and so here we are. I actually managed to finish it in one day thanks to the relentlessly long commute to the office which was made even longer by the delay on the return leg when the train in front hit "something". To quote the train driver who made the announcement, "We are delayed due to a collision with an object on the track. At this stage we are hoping it is inanimate." I'm pretty sure most things are inanimate after being hit by a train but there we go. MISERY Ethan Frome is a book about chance and misery. Specifically the chances that Ethan Frome had and the misery he subsequently endured because of them. You won't find much happiness here and the relationship between Ethan and his wife Zenobia "Zeena" Frome is a crispy and glacial as a winter in Starkfield , where the novella is set, although on the plus side this then makes the current temperatures here in Liverpool seem positively tropical. A loveless marriage to an ailing wife and back breaking work on a profitless few acres of farm land have transformed Ethan Frome into an old man at the age of 28. Wharton characterises him in such a way that you immediately imagine someone much older. Like Father Time. DOGS BOTTOM The Frome fortunes change when Mattie arrives at the farm. Ethan's heart starts to defrost and that is when the trouble starts. Old Mrs Frome might be an ailing hypochondriac with a face as puckered as a dogs bottom, but she's got two eyes in her head and make no mistake about it. And what she sees is her husband developing an attachment to the hired help. From this point forward there is a swathe of eye lash fluttering, breathless outdoor encounters of the non coital kind and lots of blushing across the kitchen table or the milk pan or the barn door and wherever else country folks go to do their blushing. Of course you know it will all come to a sticky end so don't read on if the lover's final act is still unknown to you. DEATH BY SLED Not for Ms Wharton the conventional drinking of poison, trapped and drowning beneath the ice on a frozen New England pond, or shot gun to the temple. You've got two lovers ready to make the ultimate leap together and a lot of snow. Snow plus suicide = sled, obviously. There has been much scoffing at the this method of delivering an untimely demise to the protagonist, and yes, I may be scoffing a tiny bit too. On the other hand I have been on this kind of sled and actually took one down the black ski run on a mountain in Austria once. One of the guys I was with planted his sled half way up a tree and broke his arm. The other guy went off a cliff. Not a massive cliff admittedly but big enough to probably ensure a little bit of wee came out. So death by sled is entirely probable, just more difficult to successfully engineer and a little more uncommon these days. LOVE THE ONE YOU'RE WITH It turns out that death by sled really isn't easy at all and even seasoned sled driver Ethan fails to pull it off leaving Ethan, Mattie and Zeena locked together on the Frome farm each nursing their own ailments and bitter disfigurements as well as being the talk of the local town and, within the framework of the story, the subject of intrigue whenever a nosey newcomer arrives in town. If it sounds like I didn't enjoy this, then don't be fooled because I really did. Wonderfully written, beautiful descriptions of the Massachusetts landscape and all in one novella sized package. I've now downloaded the rest of the Wharton back catalogue so expect an onslaught of all things Edith soon.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Jason Koivu

    Jesus H Christ but this is bleak stuff! Even the town name Wharton chose, Starkfield....holy shit, hide the guns, rope and knives! I was born and raised in New England, wandering about the wooded, hilly landscapes of Massachusetts, Vahmont, New Hampshah and Maine for much of my youth. The springs and summers were green and alive. The autumns and winters were dark and dead. So half the year was glorious, good times and the other half you spent desperately trying to survive while wondering if it wo Jesus H Christ but this is bleak stuff! Even the town name Wharton chose, Starkfield....holy shit, hide the guns, rope and knives! I was born and raised in New England, wandering about the wooded, hilly landscapes of Massachusetts, Vahmont, New Hampshah and Maine for much of my youth. The springs and summers were green and alive. The autumns and winters were dark and dead. So half the year was glorious, good times and the other half you spent desperately trying to survive while wondering if it wouldn't be better to let the icy roads have their way and let your car fly off a bridge. Ethan Frome is solidly stuck in the latter. The story of Ethan, a troubled married man in love with another woman, is revealed through deft flashbacks. Though I found the dramatic climax, (view spoiler)[the tragic sled ride (hide spoiler)] , a touch melodramatic, this is otherwise excellent reality writing. Life does not work out the way you want or expect it sometimes, Wharton is saying. Her ironic twists are not so very fantastical, but rather they are the necessary conclusion. If you like when hopes and dreams are mercilessly dashed, read away! If you relish ruin and decay, have at it! But do read Ethan Frome, do.

  16. 5 out of 5

    susie

    Finally, I have the right word for this predicament: When a capable author uses her prowess to create a work whose sole purpose seems to be to depress the reader, it can be described as Frome. This word can also be used as a verb, noun, adjective (Frome-ish, Frome-ier, etc), adverb (Frome-ly), etc. to similarly describe the effect it has on the reader, (ie, "I was Fromed.") An example used in a sentence may be: "John Steinbeck was clearly suffering from a touch of the Frome when he penned The Pe Finally, I have the right word for this predicament: When a capable author uses her prowess to create a work whose sole purpose seems to be to depress the reader, it can be described as Frome. This word can also be used as a verb, noun, adjective (Frome-ish, Frome-ier, etc), adverb (Frome-ly), etc. to similarly describe the effect it has on the reader, (ie, "I was Fromed.") An example used in a sentence may be: "John Steinbeck was clearly suffering from a touch of the Frome when he penned The Pearl" Or, "Can we go see a rom-com? These foreign films are beautiful but leave me feeling Fromey."

  17. 4 out of 5

    Phrynne

    This one is short but sweet and very quick to read. I understand that lots of American readers were 'forced' to read it at school and therefore groan when they hear the title, but I was in an English school and I do not remember a single American author being allowed onto our English literature syllabus at that time. I hope things have changed since. So everything Edith Wharton is new to me and I like some, including Ethan Frome and Summer and am not so keen on others, including The Age of Innoce This one is short but sweet and very quick to read. I understand that lots of American readers were 'forced' to read it at school and therefore groan when they hear the title, but I was in an English school and I do not remember a single American author being allowed onto our English literature syllabus at that time. I hope things have changed since. So everything Edith Wharton is new to me and I like some, including Ethan Frome and Summer and am not so keen on others, including The Age of Innocence. The author's greatest skill was her poetic writing which provides the reader with descriptions which make you feel the cold when it snows and suffer the hardships and longings of the characters. Ethan Frome's love affair with Mattie appears to be doomed from the start but it is beautifully portrayed. The ending is not exactly what is expected from the course of the story but I guess it is what we could expect from this clever author. So another classic knocked off my lengthy list and I enjoyed it a lot!

  18. 5 out of 5

    Erika

    For me, this novel is not Wharton’s best work, but still scores an easy 4 stars. She is that great. Ethan Frome is a farmer married to a woman he dislikes so intensely that he blows out the candle before undressing so he doesn’t have to look at her when he gets into bed. And Zenobia is truly horrible. She’s a manipulative, self-absorbed, black hole of negativity who suffers from vaguely described “shooting pains” that keep her from doing any real work. Partly to help Zeena out, the couple brings For me, this novel is not Wharton’s best work, but still scores an easy 4 stars. She is that great. Ethan Frome is a farmer married to a woman he dislikes so intensely that he blows out the candle before undressing so he doesn’t have to look at her when he gets into bed. And Zenobia is truly horrible. She’s a manipulative, self-absorbed, black hole of negativity who suffers from vaguely described “shooting pains” that keep her from doing any real work. Partly to help Zeena out, the couple brings her cousin, Mattie Silver, to live with them and within a few months Ethan is passionately in love with her. It’s clear that Zenobia is fully aware of Ethan’s feelings, although she never says a word, and all that’s unspoken between the three of them makes the novel enormously suspenseful. Finally, Zenobia makes her move. After visiting a doctor in the next town she tells Ethan her diagnosis. “I’ve got complications,” she said. Ethan knew the word for one of exceptional import. Almost everybody in the neighborhood had “troubles” but only the chosen had “complications.” To have them was … in most cases a death warrant. Ethan’s heart was jerking to and fro between two extremities of feeling, but for the moment compassion prevailed. His wife looked so hard and lonely sitting there in the darkness with such thoughts … “You must do just what [the doctor] tells you,” Ethan answered sympathetically. She was still looking at him. “I mean to,” she said. He was struck by a new note in her voice, it was neither whining nor reproachful, but dryly resolute. “And what does he want you should do?” he asked with a mounting vision of fresh expenses. “He wants I should have a hired girl.” In other words, Mattie has to leave since Zeena needs someone who can truly “do for her.” She hired a girl on the way back from the doctor’s and Mattie’s departure is to take place the next day. It’s such a small thing—a young woman moving away from her cousin’s house—yet in Wharton’s masterful hands it takes on profound and universal importance. The rest of the novel moves forward with a horrible inevitability and even though I pretty much knew what was going to happen, I kept irrationally hoping that it would go differently for all of them. The ending reveals a really sad twist that I didn’t see coming. Wharton often names her characters in ways that cleverly indicates their role, and this novel is no exception. The word “Fromm” means “honorable” or “pious” in German, and honor is perhaps Ethan’s most prominent quality. It’s also what's responsible for his downfall. The first Zenobia was an ancient warrior queen who is famous for saying, “I am a queen and as long as I live I will reign.” Yup. But for all of its strengths, I prefer The House of Mirthand The Age of Innocenceto Ethan Frome. All three books are about people who want things they can’t have because of their time and place in history, yet here, the ending relies too much on fate for my taste. The novel feels like a moral tale and that fable-ish quality, combined with a considerable dose of melodrama, robs it of some depth. Still, there’s plenty here to enjoy.

  19. 4 out of 5

    B0nnie

    *Spoilers, proceed with caution*. This very sad tale Ethan Frome is an account of the life of Zenobia Frome, ‘Zeena’. She was named after the great Roman queen who led a revolt against the empire - somewhat like Princess Leia. Zeena had sacrificed her life to the man she loved, Ethan Frome. However, he repaid her by having a secret love affair with Zeena’s pennyless and lazy cousin, Matty, to whom Zeena had given a home. She was pretty, and knew when to flutter her eyelashes. But poor Zeena was *Spoilers, proceed with caution*. This very sad tale Ethan Frome is an account of the life of Zenobia Frome, ‘Zeena’. She was named after the great Roman queen who led a revolt against the empire - somewhat like Princess Leia. Zeena had sacrificed her life to the man she loved, Ethan Frome. However, he repaid her by having a secret love affair with Zeena’s pennyless and lazy cousin, Matty, to whom Zeena had given a home. She was pretty, and knew when to flutter her eyelashes. But poor Zeena was quite homely. They made fun of her, for she had false teeth, and looked much older than her 35 years. This was a direct result of caring for the sick and not taking care of herself. True, it made her a little queer, sort of a hypochondriac – a sad condition caused by anxiety. When Zeena was in extreme pain, and had to go on an overnight trip to see a doctor, these two ungrateful persons could hardly wait to see her go, so they could act out their little fantasy. While playing a shameless game of ‘house’, they destroyed the one possession that Zeena valued, a lovely red pickle dish. This dish was a wedding gift, and to Zeena, it was the symbol of her love for Ethan. She cried when she found the broken pieces, while the two calloused lovers laughed about the ‘cat’ breaking it. Now, it should be understood that Zeena had found a potential husband for Matty, a decent hardworking businessman, albeit somewhat socially awkward guy named Denis Eady. But Matty was having none of it. She was too good for him. Thus Zeena knew the only way to save her marriage was to send Matty away. Ethan hated Zeena’s guts for this, and wanted to run away with Matty. That could not happen. They had no money. On the way to the train station, they decided to have one last little fling - sledding! There was a famous sledding hill nearby, conveniently with a large elm tree at the bottom. Their first run down the hill was so much fun that Matty knew she could not live without Ethan. She slyly suggested to him that they commit suicide together, by crashing into the tree. At first he thought she had gone completely nuts, but then he remembered Zeena`s false teeth and, yeah, realized it was for the best. It is no surprise that this plan went very wrong. They both ended up crippled, and Zeena, a woman of character and principle, took care of them both for the rest of their lives.

  20. 4 out of 5

    Magrat Ajostiernos

    OMG. Esta novela tan cortita es de esas que empiezas y hasta que la terminas NO PUEDES PARAR. La ambientación opresiva, angustiosa y gélida me ha atrapado por completo, Wharton consigue que tu mundo se reduzca a esa cocina congelada con esas tres personas tristes y angustiadas. ¡Me ha encantado! Es increíble lo bien que escribe esta mujer... Diría que me ha gustado más que 'La edad de la inocencia' a pesar de que esta historia es mucho más "simple" ***Edith te respeto cada día más por esa mente ta OMG. Esta novela tan cortita es de esas que empiezas y hasta que la terminas NO PUEDES PARAR. La ambientación opresiva, angustiosa y gélida me ha atrapado por completo, Wharton consigue que tu mundo se reduzca a esa cocina congelada con esas tres personas tristes y angustiadas. ¡Me ha encantado! Es increíble lo bien que escribe esta mujer... Diría que me ha gustado más que 'La edad de la inocencia' a pesar de que esta historia es mucho más "simple" ***Edith te respeto cada día más por esa mente tan oscura tuya, que lo sepas xD

  21. 5 out of 5

    Johnny

    Ever read a book as required reading (in high school or college) and then, rediscover it as an adult? Ethan Frome had receded to the dark recesses of my mind such that I had even forgotten that I had read it. I remembered reading Age of Innocence, but good old Ethan had left my mental building. When my youngest son left his retired textbook edition at my house (an old Scribner’s edition in trade paperback priced at $1.25 original price—oh for those days again!), I grudgingly put it on one of my Ever read a book as required reading (in high school or college) and then, rediscover it as an adult? Ethan Frome had receded to the dark recesses of my mind such that I had even forgotten that I had read it. I remembered reading Age of Innocence, but good old Ethan had left my mental building. When my youngest son left his retired textbook edition at my house (an old Scribner’s edition in trade paperback priced at $1.25 original price—oh for those days again!), I grudgingly put it on one of my shelves of literature and told myself that I needed to read it someday. It wasn’t until I reread the book this week (thinking it was my first reading, but anticipating the events far too clearly as I turned each page) that I realized I had read it before and, for some reason, its powerful story had not stayed in my accessible conscious (I’m sure Jung could have explained it and, unfortunately, I can do so, as well.) What makes a novel, “literature?” Is it the intricate precision of the prose interwoven with delicate artistic touches? If so, Ethan Frome doesn’t meet the criterion. Rather than clever metaphors and similes that sing from the page, there is a plodding, methodical stacking of word upon word that rivals the quiet, mysterious nature of the protagonist himself. Perhaps, the art is in making the rhythm of the story match the theme and characters. If so, Ethan Frome very clearly meets the criterion. Does the cosmic significance of the plot or message transform a mere novel into “literature?” Again, Ethan Frome would fail the test. But if the criterion is that “literature” reveals something powerful about our human condition and causes us to both empathize with others (in this case, the characters) and re-evaluate our own attitudes and situations, the novel succeeds extremely well. When reviewing computer games, I always contended that art means something that changes our perspective and affects us as individuals (for good or bad). In that sense, Ethan Frome could also be classified as “art,” as well as “literature.” What is it about this relatively short book that placed it on so many required reading lists? Personally, I think it is the expression of that universal human experience of encountering hope after trying to live through a bad personal decision (uninformed career choice, bad marriage, poor investment, misplaced trust in another person or an authority, etc.), only to have that hope shattered. This story is about reaching for that hope, having that hope stolen, experiencing the despair of loss of hope, attempting to counteract that despair, and living with the consequences. Attempting to summarize the story without too many spoilers is quite difficult. It is the story of a poor man who gives up his hopes for a future outside his small New England village as a dutiful son and husband. Having entangled himself in a marriage from which he cannot gracefully extricate himself, he settles into what might be described as an emotional adultery by fixating upon another. [Having been trapped in a horrible marriage, myself, I don’t need Wharton to tell me that this doesn’t work or Jung to explain why I conveniently forgot that I had read this book when I was fixating upon, not one, but many others. If anything, this book where the physical expression of desire is limited to hands touching, an arm supporting, and the briefest of kisses manages to express most eloquently the wisdom of Jesus’ teaching about having “done it in one’s heart” being equivalent to committing adultery in deed.] Yes, the theme of being imprisoned in a relationship is found in this novel as in Age of Innocence and the ideal of that wonderful, perfect relationship is captured in many heart-wrenching scenes, but Wharton deals with the issue as realistically as if she was writing from a later era. The results of the decision to break out of the imprisonment are, of course, disastrous. Nothing in the book is as simple as it initially appears. One has a sense of foreboding throughout the book that is deftly underscored by heavy foreshadowing (descriptions of the cutter, mysterious allusions to a tragic event, and more), but the final result is (at least, to me) even more tragic than one expects. Ethan Frome is a tragedy in the Greek sense. As such, it fits neatly into the “literature” category in my taxonomy. It’s just that poor Ethan didn’t seem to have enough “hubris” to bring this tragedy on his head. He seems more a victim than a tragic protagonist, but he reflects a lot of victims who suffer through horrid relationships and would like to grasp at something that seems like an escape. Even escapes have consequences. The question is: “Which consequences can you best live with?” I wonder what Ethan would say about his choice if he were “real” and alive today.

  22. 5 out of 5

    Lindsey

    This book is a good one to read if you live with someone who has also read it. This way, any time there is a lull in the conversation you can talk about how depressing it is. Conversations between me and my roommate often go something like this: "You know what I was just thinking about? Ethan Frome." "GOD. That book is so depressing." "I know, right." The book is not only enjoyable, but also a great conversation piece. Do not read it if you cannot stand unhappy endings.

  23. 4 out of 5

    Karen

    Haunting, tragic tale of forbidden love

  24. 4 out of 5

    Jenny (Reading Envy)

    I started reading this on the Serial Reader app but finally paid for the full version so I didn't have to wait so long to finish it."Guess he's been in Starkfield too many winters."I read this long ago, in 8th or 9th grade. I imagine we were assigned this at that age because it was a short novel, more of a novella, but it could not possibly have been as meaningful without having lived through some life first. Probably back then we were looking at Ethan and the symbols of winter, but this time ar I started reading this on the Serial Reader app but finally paid for the full version so I didn't have to wait so long to finish it."Guess he's been in Starkfield too many winters."I read this long ago, in 8th or 9th grade. I imagine we were assigned this at that age because it was a short novel, more of a novella, but it could not possibly have been as meaningful without having lived through some life first. Probably back then we were looking at Ethan and the symbols of winter, but this time around for me I was more interested in the character of Mattie, his desire for this warm and bright girl, and all the dreams that can never be. I thought it was beautiful, chilling, and heartbreaking. "She clung to him without answering, and he laid his lips on her hair, which was soft yet springy, like certain mosses on warm slopes, and had the faint woody fragrance of fresh sawdust in the sun."But don't get me wrong, because the writing about the winter is one of the best things about this novel."Here and there a star pricked through, showing behind it a deep well of blue. In an hour or two the moon would push over the ridge behind the farm, burn a gold-edged rent in the clouds, and then be swallowed by them. A mournful peace hung on the fields, as though they felt the relaxing grasp of the cold and stretched themselves in their long winter sleep."The ending is a bit punishing but reflects the era.

  25. 5 out of 5

    Glenn Sumi

    For over a decade, I’ve wanted to read Edith Wharton’s Ethan Frome in the winter. I’m one of those folks who likes to time reading a book with the season in which the book is set. This year, I finally got around to it. I think what had prevented me from finishing the book before was the narrative device Wharton uses. You know the one: the narrator comes upon a scene, spots the central character, and then somehow gets enough information to tell the main tale. (See also: Wuthering Heights.) The thin For over a decade, I’ve wanted to read Edith Wharton’s Ethan Frome in the winter. I’m one of those folks who likes to time reading a book with the season in which the book is set. This year, I finally got around to it. I think what had prevented me from finishing the book before was the narrative device Wharton uses. You know the one: the narrator comes upon a scene, spots the central character, and then somehow gets enough information to tell the main tale. (See also: Wuthering Heights.) The thing is: this technique can seem fussy, distracting and gimmicky. But after I’d finished the short novel I went back and reread the opening chapters, and it’s an interesting device. I still don’t think it’s necessary, but it’s not as awkward as I at first thought. But back to the book. It’s about a poor farmer who’s stuck in a dead marriage with his sickly wife, Zeena. Zeena’s pretty cousin, Mattie, is living with them to help with the chores, but she’s not a very good housekeeper and Zeena doesn’t like her. To complicate matters, Ethan has fallen in love with Mattie, and we think she has similar feelings. We’re told early on about the winter “smash up” that gave Ethan his limp, and there’s a rich description of a great big (symbolic) tree early on… and so we know an accident will probably figure into the tale. What’s remarkable isn’t the simple story, but the evocative language and the generous empathy Wharton has for her characters. The author is best known, of course, for being a sharp observer of upper-class New York society in books like The Age Of Innocence and The House Of Mirth. What does she know about simple country folk? There’s not an ounce of sentimentality about her portrait, and even though the working class characters’ speech is plain and colloquial, you don’t get the feeling that Wharton judges them. If anything, she pities them. This is a sad story. And the descriptions of the wintry landscape? Absolutely stunning. If, like me, you’ve wanted to read this, here’s my advice. Get a nice warm blanket. Put on a pot of tea or coffee. And cuddle up with the book. You won’t regret it.

  26. 4 out of 5

    ❀Julie

    There is a lot of emotion packed into this haunting cautionary tale of forbidden love.  Set in old fashioned (circa early 1900’s) rural Massachusetts, it is written of the poor society, unlike other books I’ve read by this author.  It is a thought provoking read and addresses hardships and the moral choices made despite them.  The characters Ethan and Mattie were developed in such a way that the reader has compassion for them despite their moral dilemma of Ethan’s difficult marriage.   These cha There is a lot of emotion packed into this haunting cautionary tale of forbidden love.  Set in old fashioned (circa early 1900’s) rural Massachusetts, it is written of the poor society, unlike other books I’ve read by this author.  It is a thought provoking read and addresses hardships and the moral choices made despite them.  The characters Ethan and Mattie were developed in such a way that the reader has compassion for them despite their moral dilemma of Ethan’s difficult marriage.   These characters and the ultimate fate of their love will stay with me for a long time.  I loved this book and although it is sad, it is not a difficult read, and I was drawn in from the very first page.  If you like Edith Wharton, or just want to sample her works, I highly recommend this one.  It is short enough to be read in one sitting.

  27. 5 out of 5

    Jennifer

    “He seemed a part of the mute melancholy landscape, an incarnation of it's frozen woe, with all that was warm and sentient in him fast bound below the surface; but there was nothing nothing unfriendly in his silence. I simply felt that he lived in a depth of moral isolation too remote for casual access, and I had the sense that his loneliness was not merely the result of his personal plight, tragic as I guessed that to be, but had in it, as Harmon Gow had hinted, the profound accumulated cold of “He seemed a part of the mute melancholy landscape, an incarnation of it's frozen woe, with all that was warm and sentient in him fast bound below the surface; but there was nothing nothing unfriendly in his silence. I simply felt that he lived in a depth of moral isolation too remote for casual access, and I had the sense that his loneliness was not merely the result of his personal plight, tragic as I guessed that to be, but had in it, as Harmon Gow had hinted, the profound accumulated cold of many Starkfield winters.” Don't fall for the old myth that classics are boring. This novella of forbidden love, originally published in 1911, is filled with emotion. I didn't want to stop listening to the audio. Wharton tells the tale of Ethan Frome, his hypochondriac wife Zeena, and Zeena's cousin Mattie Silver. The landscape of Starkfield, MA (particularly the cold, barren winters) is as much of a character as any of the people in the story. Young Ethan is interested in science and engineering. He wants to escape the nothingness of Starkfield and move to a larger town where people are interested in ideas and education. He loves nature, but has no interest in agriculture. Unfortunately life's circumstances keep him tethered to Starkfield and the family farm. He marries Zeena, though they aren't well-suited. When Zeena's cousin Mattie comes to live with them, he sees an alternative to his bleak life. With Mattie in the house Ethan has a new lease on life -- though his interactions with her are completely chaste. This happiness is short-lived; however. Why? You'll have to read the book ;-) I have to thank my GR friend Julie for encouraging me to read this. I was not disappointed! 4.5 Stars

  28. 4 out of 5

    Helle

    This novel wrenched my heart in a way that I had not seen coming! For a novel that has only a few austere characters, whose nearest town is called Starkfield and which takes place in a bleak, wintry and isolated countryside, it packed a surprising punch, more than the other novels I’ve read by Wharton, most of which take place in upper-class, dazzling New York, a setting which most people, me included, would find much more compelling. In the beginning I practically swooned at Wharton’s exquisite This novel wrenched my heart in a way that I had not seen coming! For a novel that has only a few austere characters, whose nearest town is called Starkfield and which takes place in a bleak, wintry and isolated countryside, it packed a surprising punch, more than the other novels I’ve read by Wharton, most of which take place in upper-class, dazzling New York, a setting which most people, me included, would find much more compelling. In the beginning I practically swooned at Wharton’s exquisite prose – so languid, so dwelling on small things, and meanwhile the quiet drama gradually sneaked up on me and caught me unawares. The frame story is provided by an unnamed narrator, a traveler of some kind, who sees Ethan Frome from afar when he arrives in town and is told just enough about him to feel intrigued by this quiet, broken man. During a sleigh ride with Ethan Frome, a winter storm suddenly means the narrator has to spend the night at Ethan’s house – the first stranger to enter it in decades. And here the real story begins, in the form of a flashback to Ethan’s life twenty-four years before. We are told the story about Ethan’s anguish in his loveless marriage to Zeena and his infatuation with Zeena’s cousin Mattie, who lives with them. And we are shown how people, especially Ethan, can feel desperately trapped in their lives – by poverty, by snow, by marriage. (view spoiler)[ I sympathized with Ethan, who is a good man despite his yearnings for another woman. Zeena, after all, is a miserable hypochondriac, but her sadness and entrapment, too, can be read between the lines. They are all, in different ways, victims. (hide spoiler)] The desolation was palpable. I felt the harsh winters, the painful and almost total lack of choice, the misery and missed chances. Such descriptions might at other times make me give a novel a wide berth, but in Wharton’s hands the story vibrated in me hours afterward, and I knew I had just read something quite wonderful. 4.5 stars

  29. 5 out of 5

    j

    If you told me this was a longish deleted segment of Winesburg, Ohio, I would totally believe you, even taking into account the fact that one of the books was written by Sherwood Anderson and the other by Edith Wharton. Like the stories in that much revered short story cycle (no not novel), Ethan Frome concerns itself with grim characters burdened by unfulfilled dreams, dreams unfulfilled because of the strictures of society or their own inability to truly sieze the day. A chilly atmosphere, a g If you told me this was a longish deleted segment of Winesburg, Ohio, I would totally believe you, even taking into account the fact that one of the books was written by Sherwood Anderson and the other by Edith Wharton. Like the stories in that much revered short story cycle (no not novel), Ethan Frome concerns itself with grim characters burdened by unfulfilled dreams, dreams unfulfilled because of the strictures of society or their own inability to truly sieze the day. A chilly atmosphere, a grim sense of place, a punch in the gut ending that would be lurid melodrama if the story wasn't already so unrelentingly bleak throughout. One to read if you want to feel really bad. Or maybe to feel really good. Basically, you can close the book and sink into a funk or swallow the lump in your throat and hug your girlfriend or your wife or your boyfriend or your husband (or maybe even your cat), because you can, because you're lucky enough not to be the one who entered into a marriage of convenience rather than one of passion, that you aren't doomed to limp through life, scarred and nerve-damaged, metaphorically or otherwise. Here are some other depressing stories about sleds:

  30. 5 out of 5

    Teresa Proença

    Será um lugar comum dizer que este livro — é uma obra-prima; — é uma preciosidade; — é um aglomerado de emoções; — é de leitura imprescindível; — que adorei; — que li sofregamente; — que me fez soluçar de tristeza; — que é uma história de amor bela e trágica; — que a solidão de alma, a gratidão extrema, o ciúme, o amor, o dever, podem condenar um ser humano à morte em vida. Tudo o que eu possa dizer sobre Ethan Frome será sempre um lugar comum. Nada em Ethan Frome o é. "Frome era, ainda nesse tempo, a fi Será um lugar comum dizer que este livro — é uma obra-prima; — é uma preciosidade; — é um aglomerado de emoções; — é de leitura imprescindível; — que adorei; — que li sofregamente; — que me fez soluçar de tristeza; — que é uma história de amor bela e trágica; — que a solidão de alma, a gratidão extrema, o ciúme, o amor, o dever, podem condenar um ser humano à morte em vida. Tudo o que eu possa dizer sobre Ethan Frome será sempre um lugar comum. Nada em Ethan Frome o é. "Frome era, ainda nesse tempo, a figura mais imponente de Starkfield, embora não passasse de um destroço humano. Havia no seu rosto um não sei quê de deserto inacessível; ao vê-lo tão inteiriçado e grisalho pensei que já fosse velho, e espantou-me ouvir dizer que tinha só cinquenta e dois anos."

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