Ethan Frome
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Ethan Frome

3.29 of 5 stars 3.29  ·  rating details  ·  53,269 ratings  ·  2,926 reviews
First published in 1911, Ethan Frome is widely regarded as Edith Wharton's most revealing novel and her finest achievement in fiction. Set in the bleak, barren winter landscape of New England, it is the tragic tale of a simple man, bound to the demands of his farm and his tyrannical, sickly wife, Zeena, and driven by his star-crossed love for Zeena's young cousin, Mattie S...more
Paperback, 150 pages
Published March 10th 1997 by Scribner (first published 1911)
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dead letter office
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Jeffrey Keeten
“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
karen

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...more
George
Aug 30, 2007 George rated it 1 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
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.
Shovelmonkey1
Oct 30, 2012 Shovelmonkey1 rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
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...more
Johnny
Sep 09, 2008 Johnny rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  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
Lindsey
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.
Susie
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...more
B0nnie
*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...more
Joel
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
Jason Koivu
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...more
Jacob
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...more
John Wiswell
Aug 17, 2007 John Wiswell rated it 1 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
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.
TK421
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
RachelAnne
Nov 30, 2007 RachelAnne rated it 1 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: people wanting to commit suicide but in need of more motivation to end it all.
Shelves: historical, novels
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?
Sherien
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...more
Cindy
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...more
Tatiana
May 01, 2010 Tatiana rated it 3 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Tatiana by: 1001 Must Read Before You Die list
Shelves: 1001, 2010, classics
I love Edith Wharton, but honestly I don't understand why Ethan Frome is considered one of her best works.

Firstly, reading it, I felt like I'd already heard this story before. This novella about a man who is confined by his social status and unhappy marriage, and unable to realize his desires - be that a different profession or marriage to a different woman - is just all too familiar. Of course, Wharton's writing is as always remarkable, but the story itself is not impressive. Maybe my coldness...more
Michael
An unnamed narrator from a fictional New England town tells us about his encounter with Ethan Frome; a man with dreams and desires but stuck in a loveless marriage. His wife, Zeena is a hypochondriac whom he married out of a sense of duty. When Ethan falls deeply in love with Zeena’s cousin and their maid Mattie things start truly falling apart.

I’m going to put this out there, this book really reminds me of a Russian novel; the love triangle reminds me of Doctor Zhivago mainly. Then there is the...more
Ashley
Ethan Frome is the story of Ethan Frome, a young man settled in an unhappy marraige who falls in love with his wife's young cousin Mattie Smith.

This story was terrible. My AP English class ate it up, but in my opinion, all the charectors are self-centered and think only of themselves. They are incapable of realizing what they are doing to eachother because all they can think of is themselves. Each charector is also extremely weak and lacks self control. Bottom line, This book is not a must read.
Greg
I disliked this book so much. But yet I don't know if it is the books fault or the teachers? How I made it through 7th and 8th grade with the same teacher and came through it still with an interest in reading is a mystery to me.
Matt
When I read this in high school, I really liked it. Well, as much as you can like a book when a disillusioned teacher puts a figurative gun to your head and forces you to read it (I love reading, yet I hated English classes; it's a wonder how much joy can be sapped from your passions by a few lousy teachers). Back then, my Holden Caulfield-identifying self liked the Romeo-&-Juliet-on-a-sled aspect of this diminutive masterpiece.

I read it again last week. I still liked it, but things had cha...more
Tfitoby
Apparently this is a high school text in America. I assume that this is because it is so short and therefore easier to get the kids to read it than say Infinite Jest. But boy is this one sad tale.

Surely you know what this one is about? It often feels like the majority of Goodreads members consists of American teenagers so forgive me for the assumption. I do not believe that the following paragraph is a spoiler as it's pretty much spelled out in the blurb but if you are delicate to these things I...more
bup
If you're looking for a punch in the gut that matches the solar plexus thumping you got from "Of Mice and Men," this is where you want to be.

Reading the other reviews that are listed here, I'm glad I never got assigned this in school. That apparently ruins the book.

Ethan's easy to judge. He's not perfect, and he blames fate for his situation when he should be blaming himself. Sure, he grew up on the Baltic-Avenue part of the board, and he has to farm, and his wife's a witch and stuff. But nobod...more
Jennifer (aka EM)
A brutal little novella, mean, sad and despairing, evocatively told - but too short (i.e., character- and detail-scarce) to pack the kind of wallop that House of Mirth did. Wharton's capacity to create a downward arc for her characters (view spoiler) is singular, and the furious engine that burns at the heart of her books.
Boof
I am completely and utterly in love with Edith Wharton! This is the second of her books that I have read in as many weeks and I don't know what kept me from her for so long.

Looking back through some of the reviews of Ethan Frome there appears to be a love/hate divide going on. I LOVED it! Wharton has the most amazing talent to pull me right into her stories as though I am there right with the characters. Starkfield - brilliant name for such a place; it was just that - freezing, barron, snow-...more
Thomas
Definitely a depressing book. While rife with wonderful symbolism pertaining to themes such as forbidden desire, social oppression, etc., I could not bring myself to enjoy the book beyond its literary deepness. On the literal level, Ethan Frome lacked any characters I could relate with or any hope that would have made me like the book more - to put it bluntly, it was just really, really sad and not all that amazing. I have heard better things about Wharton's other works though, such as The House...more
Janey
Hated, HATED reading this in high school. Upon a re-read a decade later: I don't hate it anymore, but the story, being domestic misery itself -- misery: unattractive, mundane, and absolutely suffocating -- is no walk in the freaking park. I'll concede that Ch. 8's conclusion is pretty stunning in laying out in a few sentences the hopelessness of Ethan's situation, and the ending has a similar effect. The wintry atmosphere is extremely well-done, and from the many over-the-top metaphors (but what...more
Ainsley
Haaaaaate. Though I will say this for Edith, it's not entirely her fault. A lovely**** woman named Carol A. Powers holds much of the responsibility for my grudge against this book. Not all, but a good amount. The book does suck on its own merits.

Let me tell you something. While I have no professional training in education, I can say this with absolute certainty: the way to teach teenagers literature is not - I repeat, NOT - to force them to memorize it.

This book does have a small place in my hea...more
Rebecca
The image of two lovers driving a sled into a tree so they can commit dual suicide, but who in fact only end up severely crippling themselves, has not left me since I first read this book. I wouldn't recommend letting anyone under the age of 15 read this book purely for that reason (I mean, what kind of image is that to have floating around your head?). This novel is very claustrophobic and tragic. It was also the subject of my first-ever real, full-blown research paper, so it's intimately conne...more
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What do you think about Wharton's subject matter? 4 27 Jul 06, 2014 03:45PM  
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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...
The Age of Innocence The House of Mirth Ethan Frome and Other Short Fiction The Custom of the Country Summer

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“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.” 22 likes
“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 many Starkfield winters.” 8 likes
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