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Ethan Frome (1911)

by Edith Wharton

Other authors: See the other authors section.

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingMentions
8,024178741 (3.61)679
Ethan Frome, a poor, downtrodden New England farmer is trapped in a loveless marriage to his invalid wife, Zeena. His ambition and intelligence are oppressed by Zeena's cold, conniving character. When Zeena's young cousin Mattie arrives to help care for her, Ethan is immediately taken by Mattie's warm, vivacious personality. They fall desperately in love as he realizes how much is missing from his life and marriage. Tragically, their love is doomed by Zeena's ever-lurking presence and by the social conventions of the day. Ethan remains torn between his sense of obligation and his urge to satisfy his heart's desire up to the suspenseful and unanticipated conclusion.… (more)
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    Remembering Laughter by Wallace Stegner (BookshelfMonstrosity)
    BookshelfMonstrosity: In Remembering Laughter a woman confronts her husband's escalating use of alcohol; in Ethan Frome the title character's wife is difficult and demanding. Both novels elegantly depict a husband obsessed with his wife's sister, resulting in a love triangle with tragic consequences.… (more)
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    Kamouraska by Anne Hébert (charlie68)
    charlie68: Similar themes
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    The Scarlet Letter by Nathaniel Hawthorne (PilgrimJess)
    PilgrimJess: Another tale of a character seeming weighed down by social and moral constraints.
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    The Reader by Bernhard Schlink (1Owlette)
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    Wuthering Heights by Emily Brontë (charlie68)
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» See also 679 mentions

English (173)  Spanish (3)  French (1)  All languages (177)
Showing 1-5 of 173 (next | show all)
Good Lord. What a tale of woe! I love Edith Wharton, generally, and her turns of phrase in Ethan Frome are lovely, but this is just a story, not a full-bodied work with well developed characters. It briefly -- I mean, like one of Aesop's fables -- explores the harsh effects of societal and economic constraints on families and personal fulfillment. Moral of the story? Maybe, no options leads to despair and dumb ideas? Overall, due to his begrudging sense of duty, Ethan's life is all downhill, as it were... ;) ( )
  MMKY | Jul 3, 2020 |
Guy moons over girl
no fool, his wife takes action
they overreact. ( )
  Eggpants | Jun 25, 2020 |
Can't account for how it's taken me so long to get to this slim volume, which is just as juicy as they say. In retrospect, I am struck by the fact that Wharton chose to make her narrator an engineer, a profession that would have been denied her, Zenobia, and Mattie because of their sex and denied Ethan because of the obligations of farm and family. It's like while chronicling the dead-end rural life of late 19th century New England, Wharton acknowledges that an alternative exists for those lucky enough to be born with the right gender and the right resources. The edition I read includes a great introduction by Elizabeth Ammons, which among other things notes that Wharton may have been an outlier by forging an unlikely career as an accomplished author, but less so when it came to reflecting and even casually expressing commonly held white supremacist notions. Ammons also notes Wharton filed for divorce just two years after publishing this. ( )
  andystardust | May 2, 2020 |
3.5 stars. Wow, this book was unexpectedly good. I looked at the cover and synopsis thinking it would be rather dull, but it turned out to be quite interesting. This is where the saying "don't judge a book by its cover" applies. I really liked the characters and the deep feelings involved with everything; though admittedly, those were the main reasons for me liking the book.

There's something about the three main characters that make them so interesting to read about. Especially Zeena. Now, she was a mystery. I couldn't figure out exactly why she does what she does, though I did come up with a few guesses. She's both annoying and pitiful, and I was constantly wavering between either emotions towards her. Ethan was a bit easier to figure out, probably because the book is told through his eyes. He is pitiful too, but unlike Zeena, he is also admirable for working so hard throughout all his life. I liked him more than Zeena. And as for Mattie, I delighted in her carefree spirit, and she is also admirable for being optimistic. There wasn't much need to sympathize with her except at the end. Oh, the end...

I really disliked the events at the end, even though unhappiness is implied right from the start. But it's worse than I had suspected because of something (I shall not say due to caution of spoilers). It was honestly heartbreaking, even without the sadness being described in detail. However, I felt it was the right kind of ending for this book because it fits the whole bleakness of mood. So overall, I'd say that I hated yet approved of the ending. Sigh.

Also, something else I'd like to address quickly is the frame narrative. I thought it was a bit strange, because it felt as if the whole story was fake (since it was supposedly mostly imagined by the engineer guy). But it seems to have been meant to be portrayed as the true story, so I'll take it.

Yes, I would recommend this book, unless you're looking for a happy book or a happy ending. Because it has none of those. But if you're ready for a deep and tragic story, I do urge you to read it. ( )
  KendraJ. | Dec 10, 2019 |
Eh, Edith needs to stick to her specialities. More ballgowns! More mustachioed opera-box-owning adulterers! More trips to Paris! Dull, bleak, short, ridiculous. ( )
  charlyk | Nov 15, 2019 |
Showing 1-5 of 173 (next | show all)
It will only take you the afternoon, but it’s shocking snowy ending will leave you pondering it for days.

» Add other authors (107 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Edith Whartonprimary authorall editionscalculated
Ammons, ElizabethIntroductionsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Brick, ScottNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Cheshire, GerardContributorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Fadiman, CliftonIntroductionsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Guidall, GeorgeNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Hébert, C MNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Hutchinson, EmilyAbridged edition bysecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Munn, Helen T.Forewordsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Poor, Henry VarnumIllustratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Showalter, ElaineEditorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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I had the story, bit by bit, from various people, and, as generally happens in such cases, each time it was a different story. (Author's Introductory Note)
The village lay under two feet of snow, with drifts at the windy corners.
He never turned his face to mine, or answered, except in monosyllables, the questions I put, or such slight pleasantries as I ventured. 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; but there was 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.
...we came to an orchard of starved apple-trees writing over a hillside among outcroppings of slate that nuzzled up through the snow like animals pushing out their noses to breathe. Beyond the orchard lay a field or two, their boundaries lost under drifts, and above the fields, huddled against the white immensities of land and sky, one of those lonely New England farmhouses that make the landscape lonelier.
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The setting for this piercing New England novel is the aptly named Starkfield, where, despite violently blue skies, the chill of cold and snow seems also to settle inside the hearts of the people who live there. Tethered to his farm, first by helpless parents, later by his querulous, hypochrondriac wife, Zeena, Ethan Frome ekes out a bare subsistence. Then Zeena's cousin, the impoverished, enchanting Mattie Silver comes to work for them and, in Mattie, Ethan's hopes and dreams are rekindled. Yet theirs is a forbidden love, hemmed in by Zeena's presence. The impossible intensity in which the three exist has devastating consequences...
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Average: (3.61)
0.5 9
1 73
1.5 13
2 157
2.5 24
3 438
3.5 120
4 620
4.5 84
5 352

Penguin Australia

4 editions of this book were published by Penguin Australia.

Editions: 0142437808, 0451531310, 0143105930, 0141389400

Tantor Media

2 editions of this book were published by Tantor Media.

Editions: 1400100631, 1400108527

Recorded Books

An edition of this book was published by Recorded Books.

» Publisher information page

Urban Romantics

2 editions of this book were published by Urban Romantics.

Editions: 1909438847, 1909438855

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