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Ethan Frome [Hardcover]

Edith Wharton
3.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (165 customer reviews)

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Book Description

June 2002 0754048039 978-0754048039 Large type edition
`It was not so much his great height that marked him ... it was the careless powerful look that he had, in spite of a lameness checking each step like the jerk of a chain.' Set against the bleak winter landscape of New England, Ethan Frome tells the story of a poor farmer, lonely and downtrodden, his wife Zeena, and her cousin, the enchanting Mattie Silver. In the playing out of this short novel's powerful and engrossing drama, Edith Wharton constructed her least characteristic and most celebrated book. In its unyielding and shocking pessimism, its bleak demonstration of tragic waste, it is a masterpiece of psychological and emotional realism. In her introduction the distinguished critic Elaine Showalter discusses the background to the novel's composition and the reasons for its enduring success.
--This text refers to the Paperback edition.

Product Details

Product Description


`with each volume having an introduction by an acknowledged expert, and exhaustive notes, the World's Classics are surely the most desirable series and, all-round, the best value for money' Oxford Times

`This love story has an emotional intensity made all the more poignant by the inarticulate reticence of Wharton's characters - a menage a trois consisting of Frome, his querulous wife and her young girl cousin. With quiet assurance, Wharton conveys passion, malaise and tragedy with memorable impact.' Sophia Sackville-West, Evening Standard (London)

`Ethan Frome is one of Edith Wharton's most famous novels and rightly so. It is exquisitely written by an author with remarkable observation and imagination. Ethan Frome is a novel which extinguishes hope and blows away happiness but it is so powerful as an analysis of waste that it is nothing short of a masterpiece.' Madeleine Burton, Herts Advertiser --This text refers to the Paperback edition.

Book Description

Cambridge Literature is a series of literary texts edited for study by students 14-18 years old in English-speaking classrooms. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Customer Reviews

Most helpful customer reviews
2.0 out of 5 stars Ethan Frome Hell July 13 2004
Format:Mass Market Paperback
That was what my 10th grade class called this novel when we had to wade through it. The plot, like so many of her stories, centers around an impossible love which ends without consummation of any sort. The book drags in a vast white expanse of New England snow and hopelessness. In a time where women are usually the ones "trapped" into marriage, it was interesting to see the tables turned for poor Ethan, but overall the story seemed contrived and predictable with an overly melodramatic end. I feel very lucky that I tried other Edith Wharton novels after reading this one first, as I would have missed out on a fantastic view into the inner workings of high society through the Age of Innocence and The House of Mirth. This is arguably her worst novel and I would advise steering clear. The most interesting aspect any of us in our class could light upon was all the color symbolism. In the white snowy expanse of the environment every color had a meaning even down to the color of Mattie's hair ribbon. Still not enough to justify the time spent unfortunately. Sorry Edith....
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3.0 out of 5 stars Cogent theme, yet boring plot June 23 2004
Format:Mass Market Paperback
While I appreciated the germane theme of "life is short -- so make the most of it," I did not, however, particularly appreciate the utter despondency and insufferable malaise of Wharton's storyline. The morose setting of a fictitious New England town in the cold winter adds to the gloom and dreariness of an already hopeless milieu engendered by the abject despair of title character Ethan and the incorrigible antagonism of his wife, Zeena.
I didn't know whether to pity Ethan - or to laugh at him. His weak lack of resolve against the insufferably truculent and extremely annoying Zeena as well as his glaring inability to make his own decisions both contribute to make this book to be anything but a "page-turner" -- to put it mildly. Ethan is nothing short of pathetic. I empathize with Mattie to a certain degree, yet the ending (with Mattie) of this short novella is so pathetic that I was left shaking my head -- at how stupid they all are.
I gave it a generous 3 stars for its pertinent message of "hey, don't be like us because we're morons." While I highly enjoyed Wharton's The House of Mirth, this book, in essence, is no House of Mirth - in more ways than one.
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3.0 out of 5 stars For the Love of Ethan Frome Feb. 25 2004
Format:Mass Market Paperback
In Ethan Frome by Edith Wharton , the world is simple, yet confusing. Throughout the book Ethan struggles with the forbidden love for Mattie, while also trying to love and support his sick wife, Zeena. Wharton's detailed depitction od a struggling male mind is phneonmenal and unusual. Wharton goes down to the essence of Ethan's feelings.
The book starts out with a hint of sexual tension and gradually escalates to Ethan finally grabbing Mattie in his arms and saying he feels deeply for her. Once Mattie declares her love for Ethan a reader will finally feel serene and content and will predict a typical ending. Wharton however does not right a conventional ending, and I think readers may be disapointed.
I feel that the book is well thought out and, for the period it was written, very sandalous. The book really impressed me except for the ending. I feel it ends abruptly and that I did not have time to fully understand and realize the severity of what had happened. Overall, however, the book was fabulous.
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Format:Mass Market Paperback
Considering Edith Wharton's works, this is virtually an alien among her books. Instead of setting the novel in her beloved and well-known New York, with the wealthy people, the action happens against a bleak New England background, and portraits the life of a very poor man. But, this issue aside, 'Ethan Frome' has the same virtues of other Wharton's books, like the Pulitzer Prize Winner 'The Age of Innocence' and 'The House of Mirth', that too many experts is her masterpiece.
Ethan Frome is a young man who quits his studies to take care of his father. Later on, when he mother dies, he marries his cousin Zeena, who took care of his mother. He marries her because he doesn't want to be alone --and not for love. Only after their marriage does Frome realize that Zeena is a hypochondriac, and leads an existence claiming to be sick all the time, and visiting doctors, spending most of their money with medicines.
Some time later, her cousin Mattie moves to their house, to nurse Zeena and do the house chores. Mattie is the opposite of Frome's wife: she's beautiful, young and full of life. They fall in love. But Ethan's story won't have a happy ending. Telling it is no spoil, because we know from the first chapter that something tragic happened in his life. The novel begins with a nameless narrator telling how he met Ethan Frome and that a tragic event happened to this man's life.
By using this device, Wharton only increases the tension in the novel, because we do know that something will happen, and the more we read, the more curious we grow, to find out what had happened. The novel is set in the Wintertime, and Wharton is very gifted to describe the environment and characters. We can feel the cold weather during the whole story.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Expertly Written and Structured Tale of Woe Dec 22 2003
Format:Mass Market Paperback
After reading the book Ethan Frome... at the age of thirty, I can't help but wish I had been assigned this one in High School. This was a very thought proking story.
I don't want to go to deeply into the story line because I really don't want to give too much away... but I must say the ending is shocking and expertly foreshadowed by Wharton.
Wharton's telling of this story through a third person narrator is brilliant. We get a little piece, a glimpse of what happens in the story in the first chapter. In this glimpse we see an aged Ethan in town with a huge scar on his face and head.... and Wharton talks of the terrible, "Smash Up" he was involved in.
When I read it, I couldn't help but race through the book to find out just what the "Smash Up" was. I love when a book gives you such motivation to speed through it. This bit of foreshadowing was masterfully brilliant and expertly done.
During the story we see Etan Frome, a conflicted and yearning young man. Stuck between his ailing wife, Zeena and her young relative, Mattie who has come to live on their farm.
What Ethan wants more than anything is Mattie... but he knows he can't have her.
The bulk of the story brings us into his thought life. I really enjoyed this aspect of the book. We see Ethan waffling, hedging, scheming and hurting. He is stuck in the life he chose and can't seem to escape it's grasp.
Ethan Frome is a conflicted and complex character. I just loved Edith Wharton's portrayal of this man... brilliant!!
Read this book it is without a doubt a classic and well worth your effort!
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Most recent customer reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars We shall never be alone again like this
Edith Wharton filled her novels with a feeling of ruin, passion and restriction. People can fall in love, but rarely do things turn out well. Read more
Published on June 5 2009 by E. A Solinas
5.0 out of 5 stars We shall never be alone again like this
Edith Wharton filled her novels with a feeling of ruin, passion and restriction. People can fall in love, but rarely do things turn out well. Read more
Published on Jan. 11 2009 by E. A Solinas
5.0 out of 5 stars "We shall never be alone again like this..."
Edith Wharton filled her novels with a feeling of ruin, passion and restriction. People can fall in love, but rarely do things turn out well. Read more
Published on Aug. 3 2007 by E. A Solinas
1.0 out of 5 stars Ethan Frome
I believe this is one of if not the worst book ever writen. The stroy goes no where. It is the story of a sad man that does not teach us any thing useful. Read more
Published on June 3 2004 by j m
2.0 out of 5 stars CM says: YAWN...-A dull book that fails to interest
For a person who desires excitement, this book fails to give any. Set in the remote countryside of western Massachusetts, Ethan Frome explores the effects of isolation from society... Read more
Published on May 25 2004 by Cash Money
1.0 out of 5 stars DONT READ!!!!
This book is the downer of the century. Just when you think something is going to happen BAM!!!! the book is over. I accidently finished the book. Thats pathetic! Read more
Published on April 23 2004 by Michael B. La Torre
4.0 out of 5 stars A Required High School Book That's Actually Good!
I was required to read this book in my sophomore AP English class, and I was reluctant at first but then began to fall in love with this book. Read more
Published on Jan. 11 2004 by Jordan Collier
2.0 out of 5 stars Depressing and boring
This book sucks. If this was the first book by Wharton that someone has read, they probably won't read any of her others, which is totalluy wrong, because she is a great author. Read more
Published on Jan. 9 2004 by Hawk Key
3.0 out of 5 stars Extremely depressing
The book is so depressing it makes me retch. Though I must admit it has an interesting theme, as well as a good moral, and Wharton's foreshadowing skills are superb. Read more
Published on Jan. 9 2004 by Hawk Key
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