Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “Ethan Frome” as Want to Read:
Ethan Frome
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

Read Book* *Different edition

Ethan Frome

3.32  ·  Rating Details  ·  67,686 Ratings  ·  3,656 Reviews
Ethan Frome works his unproductive farm and struggles to maintain a bearable existence with his difficult, suspicious, and hypochondriac wife, Zeena. But when Zeena's vivacious cousin enters their household as a "hired girl", Ethan finds himself obsessed with her and with the possibilities for happiness she comes to represent.

In one of American fiction's finest and most i
Paperback, 128 pages
Published September 28th 2006 by Penguin Classics (first published 1911)
More Details... edit details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about Ethan Frome, please sign up.

Popular Answered Questions

Dianna I actually read it for the first time as a middle schooler and I did not completely understand what was really going on, but I fell in love with the…moreI actually read it for the first time as a middle schooler and I did not completely understand what was really going on, but I fell in love with the book nevertheless. I credit this book with creating in me a love for great literature. I have since read it many times and still love it.(less)
The Diary of a Young Girl by Anne Frank1984 by George OrwellThe Road by Cormac McCarthyBridge to Terabithia by Katherine PatersonNight by Elie Wiesel
Most Depressing Book of All Time
36th out of 963 books — 2,949 voters
To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee1984 by George OrwellThe Lord of the Rings by J.R.R. TolkienThe Great Gatsby by F. Scott FitzgeraldHarry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone by J.K. Rowling
Best Books of the 20th Century
380th out of 6,478 books — 44,134 voters

More lists with this book...

Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
filter  |  sort: default (?)  |  Rating Details
dead letter office
Apr 24, 2009 dead letter office rated it it was ok
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Jeffrey Keeten
Oct 05, 2015 Jeffrey Keeten rated it it was amazing
“He seemed a part of the mute melancholy landscape, an incarnation of it's frozen woe, with all that was warm and sentient in him fast bound below the surface; but there was nothing nothing unfriendly in his silence. I simply felt that he lived in a depth of moral isolation too remote for casual access, and I had the sense that his loneliness was not merely the result of his personal plight, tragic as I guessed that to be, but had in it, as Harmon Gow had hinted, the profound accumulated cold of ...more
Aug 30, 2007 George rated it did not like it
Recommends it for: drivers who don't use turn signals, people who talk out loud in a movie theater during the film
"Hey Mrs. Kinetta, are you still inflicting all that horrible Ethan Frome damage on your students?" - John Cusack, Grosse Pointe Blank

If you're looking for a book with an ever-increasing level of misery, this one is hard to beat. Try this test the next time you're with a group of your friends: just mention "Ethan Frome" out loud, and see how many of them groan audibly.
Hauntingly sad... beautifully written... classic story!!!

5 shiny stars!! Edith Wharton has woven an ironic, tragic, and phenomenally written tale! Ethan Frome was published in 1911 and is different from her other works. It is notable that Wharton was going through a period of dissatisfaction with her own marriage and a "doomed" affair around the time of writing this story.

The book is set in a fictional rural Massachusetts town called Starkfield. The winters are brutal and the people are toug
Dec 05, 2011 karen rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: littry-fiction

spoilers?? what spoilers??

i have changed my stance on the cover. a) initially, i thought that it was showing an altogether different type of activity, and then b) when ariel called it a spoiler, i reinterpreted it to something else and was still wrong, and then c) everything that may potentially be spoiled is pretty much spelled out in the first ten pages. so is that a spoiler, or is that foreshadowing??

tomato, potato...

what is so excellent about this book is that it is not at all a depressing
Oct 30, 2012 Shovelmonkey1 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: for people who've got a little winters chill in their hearts
Recommended to Shovelmonkey1 by: 1001 books list
I have been on a bit of a four-star roll recently and am beginning to fear that I accidentally pressed against my generous ratings button when I was slumped against the bookcase last week trying to figure out what to read next. It's cold and dreary outside and I was seeking something warm and fuzzy, maybe a bit light hearted or some sort of serial fantasy to see me through the onset of the winter months.... and then my hand brushed by the spine of Ethan Frome...

Which is clearly none of the thing
Finally, I have the right word for this predicament: When a capable author uses her prowess to create a work whose sole purpose seems to be to depress the reader, it can be described as Frome. This word can also be used as a verb, noun, adjective (Frome-ish, Frome-ier, etc), adverb (Frome-ly), etc. to similarly describe the effect it has on the reader, (ie, "I was Fromed.")

An example used in a sentence may be: "John Steinbeck was clearly suffering from a touch of the Frome when he penned The Pe
This book is a good one to read if you live with someone who has also read it. This way, any time there is a lull in the conversation you can talk about how depressing it is. Conversations between me and my roommate often go something like this:

"You know what I was just thinking about? Ethan Frome."
"GOD. That book is so depressing."
"I know, right."

The book is not only enjoyable, but also a great conversation piece. Do not read it if you cannot stand unhappy endings.
Sep 09, 2008 Johnny rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Johnny by: William Chu
Shelves: literature
Ever read a book as required reading (in high school or college) and then, rediscover it as an adult? Ethan Frome had receded to the dark recesses of my mind such that I had even forgotten that I had read it. I remembered reading Age of Innocence, but good old Ethan had left my mental building. When my youngest son left his retired textbook edition at my house (an old Scribner’s edition in trade paperback priced at $1.25 original price—oh for those days again!), I grudgingly put it on one of my ...more
Feb 02, 2012 B0nnie rated it liked it
*Spoilers, proceed with caution*. This very sad tale Ethan Frome is an account of the life of Zenobia Frome, ‘Zeena’. She was named after the great Roman queen who led a revolt against the empire - somewhat like Princess Leia.

Zeena had sacrificed her life to the man she loved, Ethan Frome. However, he repaid her by having a secret love affair with Zeena’s pennyless and lazy cousin, Matty, to whom Zeena had given a home. She was pretty, and knew when to flutter her eyelashes.

But poor Zeena was
Apr 29, 2016 Vanessa rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This was my second Wharton, and my favourite to date.

This novella follows Ethan Frome, a poor man who works on a farm that doesn't produce enough, and lives with his wife who is a suspicious hypochondriac. In order to help support the household, they employ his wife's cousin to help keep the house, but Ethan finds himself drawn to her. She is the only light in his otherwise dark and miserable life. But unfortunately, this love leads to tragedy.

I thought this was very well-written, and truly fel
There is a lot of emotion packed into this haunting cautionary tale of forbidden love. Set in old fashioned (circa early 1900’s) rural Massachusetts, it is written of the poor society, unlike other books I’ve read by this author. It is a thought provoking read and addresses hardships and the moral choices made despite them. The characters Ethan and Mattie were developed in such a way that the reader has compassion for them despite their moral dilemma of Ethan’s difficult marriage. These charact ...more
Feb 28, 2016 Erika rated it really liked it
For me, this novel is not Wharton’s best work, but still scores an easy 4 stars. She is that great.
Ethan Frome is a farmer married to a woman he dislikes so intensely that he blows out the candle before undressing so he doesn’t have to look at her when he gets into bed.
And Zenobia is truly horrible. She’s a manipulative, self-absorbed, black hole of negativity who suffers from vaguely described “shooting pains” that keep her from doing any real work. Partly to help Zeena out, the couple brings
Just when you think that it's safe to kiss someone you're not married to, just then, disaster lurks barely a sledge ride away!

Ethan Frome is remarkable, in probability wrongly, in my mind for its relentless bleakness. This is an American novella, by an American author in which there is no escape. The West is there, but the protagonist can't afford the journey. This an impoverished landscape, the modest hero ploughs an infertile furrow. An ungallant way to refer to a marriage, but there you go, i
Jan 03, 2016 Jennifer rated it really liked it
“He seemed a part of the mute melancholy landscape, an incarnation of it's frozen woe, with all that was warm and sentient in him fast bound below the surface; but there was nothing nothing unfriendly in his silence. I simply felt that he lived in a depth of moral isolation too remote for casual access, and I had the sense that his loneliness was not merely the result of his personal plight, tragic as I guessed that to be, but had in it, as Harmon Gow had hinted, the profound accumulated cold of ...more
Jason Koivu
Feb 14, 2013 Jason Koivu rated it liked it
Shelves: fiction
Jesus H Christ but this is bleak stuff! Even the town name Wharton chose, Starkfield....holy shit, hide the guns, rope and knives!

I was born and raised in New England, wandering about the wooded, hilly landscapes of Massachusetts, Vahmont, New Hampshah and Maine for much of my youth. The Springs and Summers were green and alive. The Autumns and Winters were dark and dead. So half the year was glorious, good times and the other half you spent desperately trying to survive. Ethan Frome is solidly
If you told me this was a longish deleted segment of Winesburg, Ohio, I would totally believe you, even taking into account the fact that one of the books was written by Sherwood Anderson and the other by Edith Wharton. Like the stories in that much revered short story cycle (no not novel), Ethan Frome concerns itself with grim characters burdened by unfulfilled dreams, dreams unfulfilled because of the strictures of society or their own inability to truly sieze the day. A chilly atmosphere, a g ...more
Sidharth Vardhan
whosoever Ethan loves, turns into a punishment for him by falling sick on him. Having given away all his happiness and opportunities for sake of his family and seeing an even more dreadful future lay ahead of him, he is flirting with idea of running away from his duties and live, once, for his own sake.

Is it proper to waste away your life caring for a relation who is perpetualy sick? It might be romantic and a great gesture and all, but is it worth it to waste multiple lives instead of one.?

A g
Dec 20, 2014 Jason rated it really liked it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Nov 22, 2015 Karen rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Haunting, tragic tale of forbidden love
August 2012

(view spoiler)

Good news, everyone!

Or rather, good news, everyone who had to read Ethan Frome in high school or college and developed a fanatical hatred of Edith Wharton and all her works
Sep 05, 2015 Chrissie rated it did not like it
I absolutely hated this book.

OK, two things were good. The author draws New England landscapes, particularly in winter, beautifully. Secondly, the book was exceedingly short, so my misery wasn't prolonged. I need to joke after reading this sad, dismal, depressing book. Jeez, how can people look at life with such eyes?! Stop griping and do something with your life. It is your own fault if you just sob and moan.

You follow a couple that is ill-fit. The reader has to listen to their arguments. On
This story tore my heart out. Quite appropriately, I finished listening to the audiobook on a frosty winter day following a heavy overnight snowfall. Gazing out at the white landscape from my warm and comfortable place, I pondered this strange tale (which took place in another - a fictitious - winter setting) and grasped for some pearl of wisdom or kernel of truth with which to soothe my heart.

Ethan Frome could have been a contemporary of ours. He entered adulthood optimistically -- with a dream
John Wiswell
Aug 17, 2007 John Wiswell rated it did not like it
Recommends it for: Literary readers who love the depressing stuff
Bleak fiction for bleak fiction’s sake about a miserable man in an inescapable, loveless marriage and his desire for another woman. Hollow and myopic, easily one of the most disappointing experiences I’ve ever had with a supposed classic. Other gothics would earn their tragedy, but this is just cold. If it has any merit it is an argument against theodicy, for look what gods we make when we play as authors.

Don't bother reading Ethan Frome. Go sledding instead.
Jan 27, 2012 TK421 rated it really liked it
Shelves: literary
You know that feeling you get when you see or read or hear something that is horribly sad, that feeling of loss or pity or depression, you know, the one that weighs around your neck like an anchor...well, ETHAM FROME is the type of story that evokes these types of emotions. For the most part, it is a simple story (I will spare you the details, the book is slim, read it), and then suddenly, like an errant thundercloud on a beautiful sunny day, it pelts you wind and rain and hail, and leaves you f ...more
Nov 30, 2007 RachelAnne rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: people wanting to commit suicide but in need of more motivation to end it all.
Shelves: novels, historical
HATE! Wharton as usual writes well enough to make you sympathetic with characters forever imprisoned in bleakly miserable lives with no hope of redemption. One would inflict this on oneself willingly WHY?
I read this last night in an insomniac fit. It was cold and dark and rainy, and I was alone. I can't think of a more fitting setting for reading this, unless you were in an old farmhouse with drafty windows, sitting by a stove in your rocking chair. Throw in a batty old lady, and you could be in Starkfield itself!

I love creepy stories - ones that slowly start to overwhelm you with that sense that something just ain't right. "Oh dear, this isn't going to go well." The build-up of foreshadowing, i
Apr 04, 2009 Sherien rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 20th-century
Edith Wharton is certainly one of my favorite author. I remember I was first captivated by her short story called “Roman Fever” and then amazed by “The age of Innocence”. What fascinates me about her is how well she narrates her story. The language may seem easy compared to other works in her time, but is certainly beautiful and flowing. Her works is always a fast-moving page-turner for me.

I just love how she describes the bleak-winter-rural area of New England in "Ethan Frome". The atmosphere
Dec 28, 2015 Srividya rated it it was amazing
This is my second experience with Edith Wharton and I must say that while I loved both experiences, the stories were as similar as chalk and cheese. While the first, Xingu, was a satire, which had you in splits imagining life at that time; this was exactly opposite, poignant and heart breaking. However, I have to give one thing to this author; she paints pictures with her words, which makes her stories ever so wonderful to read.

Ethan Frome was not a man that I wanted to like or even feel sorry f
Oct 05, 2015 Mimi rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction
Not bad, just weird and not in an interesting way either. This was the first time I read a story and thought the main characters should've died and died faster.

I don't know what it is about Edith Wharton's writing that makes me apathetic to her stories. I think it's a combination of dull characters leading tedious lives, going about in dull settings, and having dull interactions with other characters of equal dullness. An overwhelming sense of dullness was all I could see whenever I had to read
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 99 100 next »
topics  posts  views  last activity   
Why the point of view is so effective in this book 1 11 Apr 06, 2016 08:27AM  
Around the Year i...: Ethan Frome, by Edith Wharton 9 35 Feb 19, 2016 08:01PM  
  • Extravagance
  • The Fall of the Athenian Empire
  • Daisy Miller
  • The Meaning of Consuelo
  • Novels, 1930-1942: Dance Night / Come Back to Sorrento / Turn, Magic Wheel / Angels on Toast / A Time to Be Born
  • A Bolt from the Blue and Other Essays
  • Lisa And David
  • A Quiet Storm
  • Cousin Bette (Poor Relations)
  • The Professor's House
  • Just a Couple of Days
  • Fat Land
  • Sacred Time
  • The Expedition of Humphry Clinker
  • Quattrocento
  • Nervous System: Or, Losing My Mind in Literature
  • Rescuing Patty Hearst: Growing Up Sane in a Decade Gone Mad
  • New Poems of Emily Dickinson
Edith Newbold Jones was born into such wealth and privilege that her family inspired the phrase "keeping up with the Joneses." The youngest of three children, Edith spent her early years touring Europe with her parents and, upon the family's return to the United States, enjoyed a privileged childhood in New York and Newport, Rhode Island. Edith's creativity and talent soon became obvious: By the a ...more
More about Edith Wharton...

Share This Book

“I want to put my hand out and touch you. I want to do for you and care for you. I want to be there when you're sick and when you're lonesome.” 45 likes
“They seemed to come suddenly upon happiness as if they had surprised a butterfly in the winter woods.” 25 likes
More quotes…