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Ethan Frome (1911)

by Edith Wharton

Other authors: See the other authors section.

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingMentions
8,354183750 (3.61)700
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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    Bunner Sisters by Edith Wharton (FernandoH)
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    Wuthering Heights by Emily Brontë (charlie68)
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1910s (1)
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English (179)  Spanish (3)  French (1)  All languages (183)
Showing 1-5 of 179 (next | show all)
Thought it a great story but felt sorry for Ethan and Mattie. ( )
  Jimbookbuff1963 | Jun 5, 2021 |
Edith Wharton wrote this novella about a young farmer in Massachusetts, who leads a bleak existence after the untimely death of his parents and his miserable marriage to the sickly Zeena. When Zeena's cousin Mattie comes to help run the house, Ethan finds himself drawn to her beauty and love of life. Ultimately, the star crossed lover's story ends in tragedy.
Wharton paints a harsh picture with words of the depressing New England town in winter that matches the life of Ethan Frome. The reader feels quite sad and depressed right along with Ethan.
I first read the book in high school, and re-read it in a Classics book club. I did not enjoy it as much the second time around. It was boring, and I did not feel enough emotion to care for the characters much. I do enjoy Wharton's ability to convey an overall mood through her use language/ ( )
  lonetree1972 | Jun 1, 2021 |
Excellent proto-goth without the music.. ( )
  frfeni | Jan 31, 2021 |
Between a 3 and a 4, there seems to be nothing more fascinating and guiltily sexier than an unconsummated love affair where every stolen glance and calculated move bring forth a sense of danger at the expense of constrained encounters and moments. It muddles with the mind and the heart then sets desire more ablaze, more aflame as if the Object of Desire has turned into an arsonist. Edith Wharton's Ethan Frome is no stranger to them. The bleak and cold landscape of its setting mark by its people's collective pity and one foreigner's fascination further juxtapose the undisclosed and tensed passion between Ethan Frome and his wife's cousin Mattie Silver. All this behind, perhaps the peripheral vision, of his sallow wife Zeena. The tragedy of such a story is not much on the implied illicit affair but on death's criminal charges upon trying to hold on to what should have been lost and let go. The right blend of depressing and haunting. Rousseau has put it well when he once said "So long as we desire, we can do without happiness." ( )
  lethalmauve | Jan 25, 2021 |
Beautifully written. Very uncomfortable and a bit depressing though. ( )
  mjhunt | Jan 22, 2021 |
Showing 1-5 of 179 (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.
Quotations
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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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.

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Book description
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)
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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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