Friday, September 3, 2010

Ethan Frome by Edith Wharton

Ethan Frome

by Edith Wharton
published 1911
completed August 2010

The unnamed narrator is visiting Starkfield, and comes across one of its inhabitants, a crippled and broken-spirited man, Ethan Frome.  Ethan is hired to take the man to the train station and a snow storm forces them to stay at Ethan's home through the night.  The narrator begins to piece together the story of the heartbreak and tragedy that is Ethan's life.

Ethan Frome was an intelligent man aspiring to an education but forced to remain at home to care for his ailing parents.  Zeena comes to nurse his ill mother and her support results in the her marriage to Ethan.  The marriage was of convenience not out of love.  Zeena is a hypochondriac, and Ethan finds himself trapped in a miserable marriage until Mattie, a relative of Zeena, comes to stay with them.

Ethan Frome was my first experience with Edith Wharton.  This story is tragic as are all of Wharton's novels from what I have heard, but was beautifully written.  I could feel the desperation of the situation of all of them involved.  It is a short and quick read, but after I had finished it, the story stuck with me.  If you're not afraid of tragic endings, I would highly recommend Ethan Frome.

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