Ethan Frome by Edith Wharton

5246Dear Edith Wharton, I love you. My crush on you knows no bounds and I rank you right alongside Jane Austen. Ethan Frome was awesometacular. Not entirely sure how I will keep myself from living in a Wharton vacuum the rest of the reading year.

Ethan is a guy with a wife. Zeena is that wife and she is a hypocondriac. And just kind of utterly detestable. Zeena has a cousin. Mattie is young, vivacious, and without many plans for her future. She comes to live with the Fromes to help out around the house since Zeena is worthless. Ethan quickly becomes smitten. An elm tree and a sled play large roles.

Ethan Frome is more novella than novel, but still nothing short of brilliant. That ending! I just kind of sat stunned not completely understanding what had happened. So I read the last 10 pages again. And sort of squealed at the ridiculous.

As a character study, Wharton is perfection. I’ve known this some time having reading The House of Mirth and The Age of Innocence. But as much as I loved those longer novels, I think Ethan Frome has replaced them as my favorite. Which makes me think that Wharton might be even better as a short story writer. This amazes me. I’m crazy excited for her story collections – specifically the ghostly ones.

I recommend this gem to anyone and everyone. It’s so easy to read – give yourself a couple of hours and you’ll knock it out. I’m not sure whether the characters are likeable or even people we should feel sorry for, but I’m still thinking about them nearly 24 hours later. They’ve definitely made a dent in my blackened heart!

And if the characters aren’t enough to entice you or the crazy ending, just know that Wharton’s writing is top notch. Her ability to paint a landscape is genius particularly with so few words. You have nothing to lose here, folks, and everything to gain! Win-Win.


That pickle holder or whatever it was ended up quite the symbol. Crafty little bugger.

21 thoughts on “Ethan Frome by Edith Wharton

  1. I’ve been taken with reading Edith’s novellas. I didn’t like Madame de Treymes as much, but I enjoyed Bunner Sisters and Ethan Frome! I must still write a review on Ethan Frome, I completely forgot. Seeing your post, just reminded me, but I have a problem now… I forgot how it ended 😦

  2. I LOVED this book! My husband told me to read it, and I fell in love instantly. The raw power that she invokes with her words is incredible, and I am so glad that you read and loved this one. It is a great choice for all readers of fiction.

  3. There’s nothing like knowing more about the author to enrich the experience of reading their books. A great biograhy I found on Edith is by Connie Nordhielm Wooldridge entitled The Brave Escape of Edith Wharton. It’s a YA bio, but for that reason I love the layout and the many photographs that are placed throughout the book. You can find it via the author’s website and at Amazon. Happy reading!

  4. I was unfortunately forced to read this book as a teenager by a rather snotty teacher who told us “some of you won’t like this book…that’s because you’re not mature enough for it.” Of course, that made me hate the book. Too bad how teachers like that can ruin a book. She was probably the worst English teacher I ever had.

  5. I found this book at a Thrift store. I saw it was written by Edith Wharton, so right there and then I was sold. I read this with my coffee on Sunday morning and could not put it down. Edith Wharton is a genius. I will continue to collect her books. The lady that checked me out at the Thrift Store, said there is a movie that was made, based on the book. I dare not see it, as I want to appreciate my understanding of the characters and scenes, that are so vivid!

    • I’m so thrilled you found this gem of a story! I couldn’t put it down either and have loved everything I’ve read by Wharton. I’m a complete fangirl. I, however, haven’t enjoyed any of the film adaptations.

  6. Pingback: The Classics Club: Wherein I Cave and Join… | The Blog of Litwits

  7. Pingback: Ethan Frome, by Edith Wharton | Books & Bookshops

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