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on 25 January 2009
To my knowledge, this is the first complete paperback collection of Edith Wharton's ghost stories, and a solid collection it is too. There are the famed chillers 'Afterwards' and 'The Triumph Of Night', but even the weaker tales have their merits, which is what raises Wharton above many of the other authors who wrote horror in the style of Henry James (by whom the tales in this volume are very clearly influenced).

Her stories are completely devoid of antiquarians and scholars, as in the modern ghost story tradition, being concerned instead with inter-personal relationships and the way the supernatural impinges on them. The deconstruction of the husband-wife relationship in 'Pomegranate Seed' is a good example of this, in its examination of the wife's fear of the-other-woman. Wharton is at her best when she's at her most under-stated, whereas her weakest work is when she merely recycles gothic staples. 'The Eyes' for example, with it's looming evil eyes that appear by a bed, isn't sufficiently chilling for a modern reader.

The prose is surprisingly accessible. You don't need a humanities degree to enjoy Edith Wharton's stories, so if you're new to ghost stories I think you'll find her work more easy going than some of the other NAME writers. There's a nice balance of description and dialogue and the issues she addresses, for these are stories about people first and ghosts second, are universal. She doesn't have command of the chilling structure of Le Fanu, but her endings are always enjoyable and give you a good sense of the "ah, so that's it", which any good short must do.

This is a thoroughly enjoyable book. Great for a rainy Saturday afternoon and I'd say it's an obligatory purchase for anyone who likes a good ghost story. Of the few truly great American ghost story writers, Edith Wharton is very, very near the top.
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VINE VOICEon 9 March 2004
Edith Wharton is best known for her classic books such as Ethan Frome and The Age of Innocence,but she also wrote superb ghost stories.She has the knack of making her characters so believable that it really seems these things could happen.M R James is the same,which is why I love his stories too.
These are not stories that drip with gore,but when it dawns on you what is going on you get a definite frisson down the spine.
I particularly liked Miss Mary Pask,with its surprise ending.But then,most of these tales do have a surprise ending!
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on 25 August 2008
Any collection of tales is a mixed bag, for each will have a handful of excellent stories as well as a somewhat larger amount of unmemorable ones, at least such is the general rule, and the best way to judge any such collection, strange as it may sound, is to assess the quality of the lesser tales, for if these are worth reading in spite of their flaws then you have a splendid collection.

The Ghost Stories Of Edith Wharton is not exemption from the above mentioned axiom. There are the famed chillers 'Afterwards' and 'The Triumph Of Night', but even the weaker tales have their merits. Wharton is almost as far from the M.R. James school as you can get. I would not say her work is as explicitly psychological as Vernon Lee or Henry James, but her stories are completely devoid of antiquarians, being concerned instead with inter-personal relationships and the way the supernatural impinges on them. The deconstruction of the husband-wife relationship in 'Pomegranate Seed' is a good example of this, in its examination of the wife's fear of the-other-woman.

Wharton's prose is surprisingly accessible. You don't need a humanities degree to enjoy her stories, so if you're new to ghost stories I think you'll find her work more easy going then some of the other aforementioned writers. There's a nice balance of description and dialogue and the issues she addresses, for these are stories about people first and ghosts second, are universal. She doesn't have command of the chilling structure of Le Fanu, but her endings are always enjoyable and give you a good sense of the "ah, so that's it", which any good short must do. This is a thoroughly enjoyable book. Great for a rainy Saturday afternoon and I'd say it's an obligatory purchase for anyone who likes a good ghost story.
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on 10 June 2012
One thing a reader can be assured of is that anything written by Edith Wharton will be in the clear elegant and occasionally lyrical prose that makes reading her such a joy. This book is no exception.
Wharton, the Introduction tells us, in her adult years didn't believe in ghosts but she was still frightened of them. Frightened of the idea perhaps? Now a moment's reflection on this paradox may well reveal that fear of a menacing unnatural presence lies deep in the human consciousness, and alone in a house on a dark night with the doors creaking even the non-believer may feel a shiver. Or like Coleridge; `......one, that on a lonesome road/ Doth walk in fear and dread, /Because he knows, a frightful fiend /Doth close behind him tread'. Consequently believers and sceptics alike will enjoy these stories, and even the latter will be entertained.

This reviewer considers that seven of the stories are of the first water: Afterward, in which a wife's view of her missing husband goes from casual concern to abject terror; Kerfol with its shades of Poe; The Triumph of Night with its malevolent spectre; the murdering fiend in the foreboding Mr Jones; The Duchess at prayer, another Poe-like tale; A Bottle of Perrier, suspense set in a desert oasis; and The Fulness of Life (this reviewer's favourite), with its poignant ending.

Next come The Eyes, (more Poe here), and Pomegranate Seed not particularly ghostly but a vivid portrayal of a dutiful wife's distressed although mistaken belief in her husband's infidelity. Of the remainder all are compellingly readable and there are three less ghostly ones which are excellent little stories in their own right.
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on 2 May 2014
I didnt enjoy this book very much,she is a good writer but I prefer the more modern ghost stories these days,however they are readable but I wouldnt want to re-read them,I bought this one as a friend recommended her to me,.............
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on 5 February 2008
There is a story about vampirism which is great, some other good ones too. a couple of clunkers.
Her style is wonderful and elegant. if your a fan of short horror fiction you must read this book.
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on 9 November 2013
Edith Wharton's ghost stories are most unusual. They leave the reader suspended in a state of puzzlement and unease. Atmospheric, but, for me anyway, not quite ghostly enough. Definitely worth reading!
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TOP 500 REVIEWERon 8 April 2013
.....but they don't really conclude.
I don't like it when I am left wondering what the heck happened.
So I didn't really like these stories, BUT the author's writing style so impressed me that I have ordered some of her Novels because I want to read more of her stuff.
I'm three quarters of the way through 'House of Mirth' and I am thoroughly enjoying it.
So even though I am not a fan of how these short stories ended, I am now an Edith Wharton fan.
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on 24 March 2016
A selection of stories almost on a par with the great MR James. As should be expected from a writer of Wharton's calibre the stories are well paced and atmospheric. I was most impressed by the way she manages to build up a sense of dread across a very disparate range of subjects. Written with subtlety and without the need to resort to shock tactics. Great value from this excellent series.
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on 21 March 2013
it's nice to read other of Mrs Wharton's work besides the much-reprinted "Afterward" and "The Lady's Maid's Bell". Even if the other stories aren't so gripping, they are well-plotted.
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