Ethan Frome and Selected Stories

by Edith Wharton | Literature & Fiction |
ISBN: 1593080905 Global Overview for this book
Registered by wingperryfranwing of Elk Grove, California USA on 12/7/2022
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Journal Entry 1 by wingperryfranwing from Elk Grove, California USA on Wednesday, December 7, 2022
One of Edith Wharton’s few works of fiction that takes place outside of an urban, upper-class setting, Ethan Frome draws upon the bleak, barren landscape of rural New England. A poor farmer, Ethan finds himself stuck in a miserable marriage to Zeena, a sickly, tyrannical woman, until he falls in love with her visiting cousin, the vivacious Mattie Silver. As Mattie is forced to leave his household, Frome steals one last afternoon with her—one that culminates in a ruinous sled ride with unspeakably tragic results.

This is also No. 752 on the 1001 books you must read before you die list.

Journal Entry 2 by wingperryfranwing at Elk Grove, California USA on Tuesday, January 17, 2023
Edith Wharton was an American novelist, short story writer, and interior designer. Wharton drew upon her insider's knowledge of the upper-class New York "aristocracy" to portray realistically the lives and morals of the Gilded Age. In 1921, she became the first woman to win the Pulitzer Prize in Fiction, for her novel The Age of Innocence. She was inducted into the National Women's Hall of Fame in 1996. Among her other well known works are The House of Mirth, the novella Ethan Frome, and several notable ghost stories.

This volume actually contains the novella Ethan Frome along with four of Wharton's short stories. Frome was a very melancholy story set in the New England farm country at the turn of the twentieth century. The novel starts out with a visitor to Starkfield, Massachusetts, who notices a man who is lame and scarred who picks up his mail at the post office. The man is Ethan Frome and the visitor is able to piece together his story bit by bit. Frome lives with his wife Zeena on a desolate farm where twenty years earlier he lived with his wife and a destitute relative of his wife named Mattie Silver. Frome desires Silver and Silver returns the affections but they cannot have each other. Zeena is manipulative and as cold as the frigid landscape of their farm in the winter. She wants Mattie gone but Ethan feels otherwise. This leads to some very dire consequences which result in Frome's disfigurements.

This is the first I have read of Edith Wharton. I really liked her writing style and descriptive passages. The novella was very bleak and sad but painted a realistic picture of life in the New England farm country and it’s harsh winter conditions. I also have copies of both The Age of Innocence and The House of Mirth that I will be looking forward to.

The Pretext - This was an interesting but rather sad and heart-breaking story of a middle-aged woman married to an instructor at a college in New England. A young visitor from England gives the woman lost hopes as she gets caught up in a doomed romantic fling with the younger man. The young man returns to England and breaks off his engagement there because of his love for someone in America. But was it really love or just a pretext to break off the engagement? I would hope the former.

Afterward - This was a good old-fashioned ghost story by Wharton. A couple from America moves to England after the husband has made his fortune after a windfall from the "Blue Star Mine." They move into a house that may be haunted but the locals say you will only know this until afterward. All seems well until the husband becomes distraught and then disappears after a stranger visits. I enjoyed this one a lot.

The Legend - This story is about an author named Pellerin who disappeared some twenty years previously and is presumed dead. But a man is found passed out in Central Park who turns out is the missing author. His works have become legend and are studied by many but are they construed as how the author originally wrote them? This is a story that makes you think of how an author's works are interpreted after their death and do scholars look at them as the author intended. Interesting story.

Xingu - This volume ended on a real high note with this hilarious story. It's about a lunch group or book club that consists of some very pretentious ladies. The group has a visit from a famous guest author who doesn't seem interested in discussing her book but nastily asks the group questions about its purpose. One of the members who is somewhat ostracized because she hasn't read the author's book states that the group had been busily studying Xingu. Everyone chimes in agreement but do they really even know what it is? The guest author is also at a loss but wants to learn more. So what is Xingu? It's a river in Brazil and Wharton masterfully talks of it as if it is some great philosophy or religion. I really enjoyed this one!

Overall, I enjoyed this collection from Wharton and will be looking forward to reading more of her.

Journal Entry 3 by wingperryfranwing at Little Free Library - Foulks Ranch Rd. in Elk Grove, California USA on Thursday, February 2, 2023

Released 1 mo ago (2/3/2023 UTC) at Little Free Library - Foulks Ranch Rd. in Elk Grove, California USA


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