Ethan Frome by Edith Wharton, is perhaps the most tragic novel I have had the pleasure to read. Athlough suprisingly short, Wharton manages to create an intricate and complex plot, extreme depth of character and a sensitive yet shocking sense of reality. Altough as much a 'sign of the times' as 'The Age of Innocence' the central theme of this novel is the contempory relationships between the characters and the prinicipal interest is the often bizare mix of betray and intense loyalty portrayed. When the climax comes at the end of the text, the contained emotions of Ethan and Mattie are allowed release, the consequences manefested in disasterous and shocking results. The novel's conclusion is doused with irony and both emotional and physical desolation. It was certainly not written as a 'feel good' novel, but Wharton's delicate, yet brutal portrayal of the close relationships of the three central characters, I believe makes it a must read.