Ethan Frome by Edith Wharton A Tragic Love Story Ethan works his unproductive farm, and struggles to maintain an e xistence with his suspicious and hypochondriac wife, Zeena. But when Zeenas cousin enters their household as a hired girl, Ethan finds himself obsessed with her and with the possibilities for happiness she comes to represent. Although I'd read the book for which author Edith Wharton became the first woman to win the Pulitzer prize (in 1920), I'd never even heard of this book when a friend gave it to me recently. After reading it, my only regret is not having happened upon it sooner. This short novel (77 pages) would probably be classified as a novella and is as brilliant as it is brief. The book is narrated by a man who spends "the best part of the winter" in a small Massachusetts town, due to a work assignment and becomes intrigued with the title character, who, he describes as "the most striking figure in Starkfield, though he was but the ruin of a man" because of community members' comments about a "smash-up." After enlisting the services of a reticent Ethan Frome for transportation to and from the train station and spending (mostly wordless) time with him, his intrigue only increases. But just when you think you are to be let in on the secret, the author flashes back almost twenty -four years prior to chronologically cover the events that ended up leading to the incident (and taking up three-fourths of the book's pages). It's safe to say (without providing spoilers) that the story is about the interrelationship between a (then) twenty-eight year old man, his thirty-five year old hypochondriac wife of seven years, and the woman's approximately twenty-one year old (first) cousin (once removed). Over the years' time that the young woman lives with and works for the couple, Ethan Frome's feelings for her change from mild resentment (being tasked with chaperoning her to and from social engagements in town) to daydream- inducing romanticism. Once again, the denouement seems imminent, but instead the reader is brought back to the present to learn, along with the narrator, the result of Mr. Frome's actions. The back cover calls the ending, "both shocking and savagely ironic." I agree. Wharton's perfectly descriptive writing, character development and plotting make this one of my favorite books of the year. Also good: The Age of Innocence by Edith Wharton, The Lottery by Shirley Jackson and The Woman in White by Wilkie Collins. For More 5 Star Customer Reviews and Lowest Price: Ethan Frome by Edith Wharton - 5 Star Customer Reviews and Lowest Price!
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