Short Stories, Irish literature, Classics, Modern Fiction, Contemporary Literary Fiction, The Japanese Novel, Post Colonial Asian Fiction, The Legacy of the Austro-Hungarian Empire and quality Historical Novels are Among my Interests

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

"Ethan Frome" by Edith Wharton

Ethan Frome by Edith Wharton (1911, 100 pages)

A little more than a year ago I read and posted on Edith Wharton's (1862 to 1937-New York City) Age of Innocence.    I was completely charmed  by this wonderful book.     I have had Ethan Frome on my  TBR list ever since I bought it about a year ago at an 80% off sale at Power Books in Trinoma Mall here in Manila.   The edition I have is by Barnes and Nobles and includes an introduction (read it after you read the story, if you read it at all), a chronology of the life and literary times of Wharton and four of her best short stories.    I am currently reading slowly through Ford Madox Ford's The March of Literature.   I checked for a reference to Edith Wharton in the book and found that Ford says Ethan Frome is the first work in which Wharton begins to step out of the shadow of "The Master" (Ford's expression for Henry James).   

There have been a lot of blog posts recently on this work.    Almost everyone likes it a lot.   I think also a lot of of people like the idea of a 100 page classic!    I will just write very briefly on this book.    I liked it.    I enjoyed seeing Wharton move outside her comfort zone,  the affluent society people that Age of Innocence is about to write about the working class people of New England.    She pulls it off well without a hint of condescension at all.    I found the story exciting and it kept my interest.    The characters were very well developed.    If asked I would say first read her master work, Age of Innocence, then House of Mirth.    Then if you like the first two works read Ethan Frome

Mel u


Paul said...

Interesting quote from Ford Madox Ford. I haven't read Ethan Fromme, but I have read the Touchstone and it is definitely in the vein of James. In that book it seemed like she hadn't met a simile she didn't like.

Fred said...

Mel u,

It's a great story, one of my favorites, and the ending must qualify it as a horror story. If there is hell on earth, Ethan Frome is there.

Jessica said...

Im just about to start reading The Custom of the Country but Ill keep this one in mind if I enjoy it.

ds said...

It's been a long time since I read this; must do so again. Thanks for the reminder. The House of Mirth is my favorite Wharton.

Suko said...

I read this too long ago to comment sensibly, which makes me realize I should reread it.

Fred said...


I would urge you to read _Ethan Frome_ even if you don't like _The Custom of the Country_. They are two very different works.