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Ethan Frome (Wordsworth Classics) Paperback – 5 Mar 2000


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Product details

  • Paperback: 128 pages
  • Publisher: Wordsworth Editions; New edition edition (5 Mar 2000)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1840224088
  • ISBN-13: 978-1840224085
  • Product Dimensions: 19.6 x 12.4 x 0.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (25 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 19,960 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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11 of 11 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 E. A 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 Boof TOP 1000 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on 11 Jun 2009
Format: Paperback
I am completely and utterly in love with Edith Wharton! This is the second of her books that I have read in as many weeks and I don't know what kept me from her for so long.

Looking back through some of the reviews of Ethan Frome there appears to be a love/hate divide going on. I LOVED it! Wharton has the most amazing talent to pull me right into her stories as though I am there right with the characters. Starkfield - brilliant name for such a place; it was just that - freezing, barron, snow-covered, lonely. But this is quite possibly one of the most romantic love-stories I have ever read: it's so real you can almost touch it. It's tangible and it's tragic.

This book, despite the fact that it's only 100 pages long, took me a couple of days to read. I just had to savour every word and re-read passages over again. It's so rare that this happens but I just know it's going to be one I think about often and will re-read again (and again.)
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By John P. Jones III TOP 500 REVIEWER on 1 Sep 2011
Format: Paperback
Edith Wharton was awarded the Pulitzer Prize for Literature, in 1921, the first woman to win the award, for her work The Age of Innocence (Wordsworth Classics). Most of her works, and she wrote over 40, including the Pulitzer Prize winner, concern New York society. Ethan Frome is a notable exception, set in rural western Massachusetts, on a farm not all that far from the fictional, and aptly named village of Starkfield. This book was first published in 1911; the novel's time period is unspecified, but must be around the turn of the century (yes, that century, the commencement of the 20th.) The setting, the weather, and the people are bleak and morose. It is a hard-scrabble existence, with financial calamity never far away. As stereotypical New Englanders, the three principal characters are taciturn to a fault: a grunt here, a monosyllabic answer there. There is Ethan Frome, his wife Zeena, and her cousin, Mattie Silver.

This book is a good introduction to Wharton. It is a novella that can be read in one setting. It is a well-structured and finely woven story, with a thread of dramatic suspense that commences on page 2, with a denouement not until the very end. It is a story within a story. At the very beginning one learns that Frome has been injured in a "smash-up" that occurred 24 years earlier. He must be around 50, but looks twice his age. Then the flashback tale is told, from the earlier time, of the events that led to the "smash-up." Frome is still in his 20's; his wife is seven years his elder, and "sickly." They met when Zeena was caring for his sickly mother. Mattie Silver is Zeena's youthful cousin who has come to help on the farm, and assist Zeena.
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