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Ethan Frome (1911)

by Edith Wharton

Other authors: See the other authors section.

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8,781198755 (3.61)747
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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    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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    PilgrimJess: Another tale of a character seeming weighed down by social and moral constraints.
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1910s (1)
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English (194)  Spanish (3)  French (1)  All languages (198)
Showing 1-5 of 194 (next | show all)
One of those books I read when I was young, but always thought I should read again. It was a quick read with an unexpected ending and held my attention to the end. Sometimes life makes us pay too high a price...I probably understand that better now than I would have in my 20s.

Like so many of Wharton's characters, Ethan Frome is searching for his place in the world and hoping for a happiness that is always just out of his reach. I suppose our sympathies ought to lie, to some extent, with Zenobia, the wronged wife, but how can they when she is so harsh and cruel. Aside from that, this is a very different novel from Wharton's other works. It is not about class. Frome isn't hungry to join the wealthier class, he is hungry to join the world. He wants to lead a life with meaning, and he is tied to a farm that holds him because of an accident of birth, and a woman who holds him because of an accident of circumstances.

Like all of Wharton's works, this one packs a lot into a small space. It does not stretch beyond what is needed, and the images of Ethan Frome that we see in the beginning become very poignant by the end. ( )
  mattorsara | Aug 11, 2022 |
Ethan Frome lives a life of constant hardship on his unproductive farm with his sickly and bitter wife. This is the story of how they came to such a miserable existence.
I admit that I came to this one dragging my feet. I had previously suffered through The Age of Innocence and didn't like it at all, but Ethan Frome took me completely by a very pleasant surprise. I was engaged in the story from the start and could hardly wait to hear what happened to the characters. It manages to be grim *and* exciting at the same time, and I really enjoyed it. ( )
  electrascaife | Jun 19, 2022 |
20. Ethan Frome by Edith Wharton
published: 1911
format: 89-page Scribner Library paperback from 1970
acquired: This was my high school copy and has my handwriting. It was shipped to me, along with the rest of the books on my childhood bedroom shelves, in 2007.
read: Apr 27 – May 3 time reading: 4:20, 2.9 mpp
rating: 5
genre/style: classic novella theme: Wharton
locations: fictional Starkville, Massachusetts
about the author: about the author: 1862-1937. Born Edith Newbold Jones on West 23rd Street, New York City. Relocated permanently to France after 1911.

My latest Wharton is such a one-off from her earlier works. And it's also perfectly executed. I was assigned this in high school and it left me with a warped view of Wharton. Unwilling or unable to see the masterpiece then, I came away with a sense of droll incomprehensible writing, and a sled. Starkville, MA is far away from Wharton's New York elite. Also it‘s winter and there‘s no money - two things that really define Ethan‘s cold marriage and spoken words. The prose is sparse, and the characters spoken words are far sparser, and none mean what they seem to say. And this drives Ethan's impulsive pursuit of the dancing Mattie Silver.

It has an interesting, carefully worded, but very slow start. Every word is important. But midway through I found myself really into this sparse shadowy cold world, reading inappropriately fast. Really, this is great stuff. It's sad, held by perfectly balanced stresses, with a wonderful sparse winter-isolation atmosphere, a strangely romantic narrative drive and ending in a terrific tragic element. All three main characters are permanently memorable - lanky thin Ethan, lively Mattie and dark brooding unreadable and bitter Zeena. Also I thought I caught a sly authorial smile embedded in there. I'm not sure how to context this with my Wharton reading, because it's so different, but I'm really happy to have read this.

2022
https://www.librarything.com/topic/341027#7832320
  dchaikin | May 8, 2022 |
Poor Ethan gets a cold lesson on how cruel love can me. ( )
  dele2451 | Mar 15, 2022 |
Couldn't get into it
  ritaer | Mar 9, 2022 |
Showing 1-5 of 194 (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 (101 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
Klett, ElizabethNarratorsecondary 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.
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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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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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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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