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Ethan Frome Paperback – 26 Apr 2007

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Product details

  • Paperback: 112 pages
  • Publisher: Virago; New Ed edition (26 April 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1844083527
  • ISBN-13: 978-1844083527
  • Product Dimensions: 12.9 x 0.7 x 19.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (42 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 4,198,261 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Review

Edith Wharton is unique in the intimacy and sureness, not to mention the virile and satiric tone, with which she investigates this narrow and declining society (TLS)

Wharton's prose, with its menacing images of death and darkness, is superb. First published in 1911, it remains a hauntingly stark masterpiece (IRISH TIMES)

Book Description

Novel by Pulitzer prize winning author of THE AGE OF INNOCENCE

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

13 of 13 people found the following review helpful By Peter Reeve VINE VOICE on 18 Mar. 2005
Format: Paperback
"Ethan Frome" is a novel carved from black ice. It is a tragedy unalleviated by humour, with nothing to ease the iron grip of a malign Fate. Superbly written, uncompromisingly tragic, full of striking and memorable winter landscape imagery, with an ending that is unexpected and thought-provoking, it is undeniably great literature. I just felt that the profound sadness of the tale somehow compromised the artistic integrity. Edith Wharton experienced much sorrow in her own life and I think this somewhat narrowed her vision. So be prepared for a novel that will move you, impress you and stay with you, but is not likely to put a smile on your face or a spring in your step!
In the same vein, look for Gillian Anderson's astonishing performance in the film version of Wharton's "The House of Mirth" (a misnomer if ever there was). Not always easy to take, it is tragic acting at its brilliant best.
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful By EA Solinas HALL OF FAMETOP 500 REVIEWER on 3 Aug. 2007
Format: Paperback
Edith Wharton filled her novels with a feeling of ruin, passion and restriction. People can fall in love, but rarely do things turn out well.

But but few of even her books can evoke the feeling of "Ethan Frome," whick packs plenty of emotion, vibrancy and regrets into a short novella. While the claustrophobic feeling doesn't suit her writing well, she still spins a beautiful, horrifying story of a man facing a life without hope or joy.

It begins nearly a quarter of a century after the events of the novel, with an unnamed narrator watching middle-aged, crippled Ethan Frome drag himself to the post-office. He becomes interested in Frome's tragic past, and hears out his story.

Ethan Frome once hoped to live an urban, educated life, but ended up trapped in a bleak New England town with a hypochondriac wife, Zeena, whom he didn't love. But then his wife's cousin Mattie arrives, a bright young girl who understands Ethan far better than his wife ever tried to. Unsurprisingly, he begins to fall in love with her, but still feels an obligation to his wife.

But then Zeena threatens to send Mattie away and hire a new housekeeper, threatening the one bright spot in Ethan's dour life. Now Ethan must either rebel against the morals and strictures of his small village, or live out his life lonely. But when he and Mattie try for a third option, their affair ends in tragedy.

Wharton was always at her best when she wrote about society's strictures, morals, and love that defies that. But rather than the opulent backdrop of wealthy New York, here the setting is a bleak, snowy New England town, appropriately named Starkfield. It's a good reflection of Ethan Frome's life, and a good illustration of how the poor can be trapped.
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21 of 22 people found the following review helpful By Miss S N Nadin on 8 July 2003
Format: Paperback
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.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on 8 Dec. 1998
Format: Paperback
Ethan Frome, by Edith Wharton is one of the most tragic novels I have ever read. Although it was tragic, it left a major impact on me, like most tragic novels do. I never thought I would encounter another book as depressing as Of Mice and Men, by John Steinbeck, but Ethan Frome most certainly was. This novel expresses the power of love and what love will do to one's actions. The actions of the two main characters, Ethan Frome and Mattie Silver may appear shocking and foolish to the reader, but eventually the reader can acknowledge the fact that love makes one desperate; desperate enough to what ever it takes to attain love. This is a story of a simple man who desperately wants true love, but who eventually realizes love is hopeless. Ethan Frome's love for Mattie Silver causes the two to partake in an unthinkable act. I would love to share the ending of this novel, but it's an experience one should do on their own. Read this book and it will leave an impact on you and when you look back at this book you will almost feel the pain and isolation of the two characters. Alfred Kazin once stated, "For love to really be love, it must be forbidden, it must fail, it must carry the doomed lovers down with it." Edith Wharton uses this theme, illicit love to present "a drama of irresistible necessity."
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18 of 19 people found the following review helpful By HORAK on 22 Dec. 2004
Format: Paperback
Ethan Frome is a farmer in Starkfield, Massachusetts, at the beginning of the 20th century. He is unhappily married to Zenobia (Zeena), a suspicious, hypochondriac, bitter, narrow-minded, ignorant and discontented woman. He is strongly attracted to Zeena's cousin Mattie Silver who shares their household and is entrusted with all the chores which Zeena refuses to do. Ethan's tragic fate begins when Zeena peremptorily decides that they need a "hired girl" which would of course imply Mattie's departure since the Fromes don't have the means to employ two girls.
A novel of great intensity with its slow developing tragedy and characters plunging towards their destiny. The author's masterful economy of language vividly renders the oppressive "silent ache" that permanently hinders communication between Ethan and Zeena. The vision of the three main characters is done in an almost cinematic way as they are trapped indoors in the severe Massachusetts winter. The narrative pattern is original too since the whole plot is told by an unnamed narrator who met the taciturn Ethan many years after the events he is about to tell us. The reader has moments of doubt when the narrator tells a story in all details and long passages of dialogue he could not possibly have known or heard during his meeting with Ethan. But Edith Wharton's extraordinary craft makes the story break away from the contingencies of the frame and it comes to moving life for the reader. A superb novel, one of the finest and most intense narratives in the history of American literature.
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