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The Ghost Stories of Edith Wharton

3.88  ·  Rating Details  ·  2,209 Ratings  ·  166 Reviews
One might not expect a woman of Edith Wharton's literary stature to be a believer of ghost stories, much less be frightened by them, but as she admits in her postscript to this spine-tingling collection, "...till I was twenty-seven or -eight, I could not sleep in the room with a book containing a ghost story." Once her fear was overcome, however, she took to writing tales ...more
ebook, 304 pages
Published November 24th 2009 by Scribner (first published 1973)
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Bill  Kerwin

If you read about ghosts in order to be filled with dread, then Edith Wharton may not be your favorite supernatural author. On the other hand, if you are a fan of elegant realistic fiction but like a few chills from time to time, Wharton's ghost tales may belong at the top of your list. Each of her stories is a subtle exercise rooted in everyday reality, and the ghostly presences--such as they are--emerge from the nourishing soil that constitutes her finely crafted realism. Many of her stories t
...more
Paul
Jan 17, 2016 Paul rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: ghost-stories
Edith Wharton may be an unlikely ghost story writer, but she does it rather well. As you would expect they are well written and have subtlety and nuance and don’t have the gore and bludgeoning of some modern horror. There is a sprinkling of the gothic, a few rambling and creepy houses and a variety of settings: England, the eastern US states, France and the desert in an unspecified Middle Eastern country.
Some of the tales aren’t really ghost stories, but explore everyday moral dilemmas and huma
...more
Kay
Mar 29, 2008 Kay rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Some might feel that Wharton was out of her element here, but I found these perfectly jewel-like tales. They are, as is to be expected, stylistically elegant -- Wharton doesn't lower her standards just because she's writing in a sometimes-maligned genre. These are classic "literary" ghost tales, best appreciated for the subtle shadings of tone and rich evocation of atmosphere. There are (this being Wharton, after all) heavy infusions of social class and the weight this imposes on the central cha ...more
Jack Tripper
description

Cover of the 1976 Popular Library mass-market. You can tell it's post-Exorcist, as it definitely imitates the style, as did a lot of horror or occult-themed paperbacks of the day.

description
Sarah Anne
Mar 22, 2016 Sarah Anne rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I got off to a rough start with this one because I didn't like the first two stories. I persevered and I'm very glad I did because I enjoyed these stories tremendously. There was a remarkable range of types of stories and causes of the events. I really should read the deliciously creepy All Souls' every year on Halloween.
Sue
Apr 14, 2011 Sue rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Those who enjoy Wharton or classic ghost stories
Edith Wharton has written what I term "genteel" ghost stories, with a variation in success if achieving a sense of mood and dread are the measure. There are several that I specifically enjoyed, "Afterward", "Kerfol", "The Triumph of Night", "Mr Jones". All are well written of course (it seems silly of me to judge Wharton). If I judge them as ghost stories then some don't seem as successful. "Eyes" in particular seems a let down (as discussed in the story section).

Overall though I find the storie
...more
Kaion
Aug 19, 2015 Kaion rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: shorts, horror, reviewed
One has difficulty imagining Edith Wharton being big into ghost stories, until one realizes what Wharton thought constituted a ghost story is so very schoolmarmy. It's the haunted house equivalent of hanging up some sheets and putting up doleful lights. Under the right suggestion, some may be scared, but most will be hard-pressed to get any suggestion of ghostliness out from the impenetrable coyness of Wharton's prose here. (One pines for the luridness of Poe.)

In the better stories of this group
...more
Blair
I loved this collection of short stories - I haven't read any of Edith Wharton's novels, but I really want to after this. The writing is absolutely excellent - the perfect balance of intrigue, satire and subtlety, with a hint of humour. The tales are just macabre enough to hold your attention without being too obvious or sensational, and they're all the perfect length. My favourite thing about many of these stories was that they are very open-ended, open to all kinds of interpretation - the ghos ...more
Margaret
I found several of these to be rather anti-climactic, but the longer, more character-driven stories worked really well: "Afterward", about a husband and wife who buy an old country estate with a ghost they won't know about until "long, long afterward"; "The Triumph of Night", in which a doppelganger threatens an ill young man; and "The Pomegranate Seed", a chilling tale of a second marriage and a first wife who won't let go.
Tristram
Who Are the “Real” Ghosts?

Up to now I have never read anything by Edith Wharton but after these 15 fascinating ghost stories Mrs. Wharton is definitely on my reading list. I would be hard put to choose my favourite from among those tales of the supernatural but if I had to make a choice, I would probably vote for “Bewitched”, where a married farmer is haunted by the ghost of a young woman with whom he seems to be carrying on an affair. (view spoiler)
...more
Jennifer
Despite my disappointment with a few of the selections, overall, I found this to be a good, entertaining -- even occasionally enlightening -- read. Wharton's narrative is generally unclouded, direct. Her dialogue is so-so, psychological insights neither prolific nor particularly poignant, though insights do occur, and when they do, they are handled well, with interesting results. Probably Wharton's greatest strength is her power of description, as in the sleeper story, "Bewitched," where the rea ...more
Robert
I love Edith Wharton and I love ghost stories, and though this collection comes up a little short with a few tales that simply didn’t age too well, Wharton comes through with a few classics that make the book well worth reading – namely, the beautifully thought out “Afterward,” (probably the best story here, and the one most widely considered to be a classic among this collection), the similarly themed “Pomegranate Seed” (like “Afterward” it features a woman who cruelly loses her husband to an i ...more
Lee Anne
The first few stories in this collection had me nervous--not because they were scary, but because they were not. There was a faint taste of bad Poe (There's a reason some of Poe's stories are classics, and some aren't. Trust me on this.), and I went so far as to fear these stories would make me like Edith Wharton less.

Thankfully, each story was a little better than the one preceding it. My favorite was Kerfol, about a vengeful pack of ghost dogs. This would make a good ghost story collection fo
...more
Karen
Oct 16, 2008 Karen rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I read this book for the first time nearly twenty years ago. My book club is reading it now for our late October meeting. I gave this book five stars based on my first reading. I'm eager to see what I think of it nearly twenty years later.

I have now completed my second reading and was delighted by this collection of ghost stories. I will grant that many of the endings are enigmatic and elliptical, but the progress of each story is so beautifully written that I will keep my five-star rating for
...more
Kyle
Jan 10, 2016 Kyle rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I actually had no idea Wharton had written so many ghost stories until I came across this collection in Half Price Books. Of course, the title is a bit of a misnomer. Yes, there are ghosts in most of the stories but the ghosts aren't the scary part. Love is the most terrifying thing in this collection.

Love of money, love of self, forbidden love all bring Wharton's character's to horrifying ends. The highlight of the collection is a story entitled The Duchess at Prayer, which while drawing heavil
...more
Amelia
Well, some of the stories deserved 4 stars to be honest, but a couple of them deserved two. The trouble with a book of short stories is you can never do them all justice with one rating.

Eleven tales in this volume by Edith Wharton, author of Ethan Frome...who all the while I was reading this I was confusing with Willa Cather. Don't ask me why, I know the difference. But, I even went so far as to tell my husband "It's ghost stories written by the author of My Antonia!" Uh, no, it's not. All at on
...more
Fantasy  Svet
Apr 25, 2015 Fantasy Svet rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
„Nedávno jsem četla v knize jednoho módního esejisty, že duchové odešli, když přišlo elektrické světlo. Takový nesmysl! Ten autor se sice rád literárně babrá v otázkách nadpřirozena, ale zatím nedospěl ani na práh svého námětu. Kdybych si měla vybrat mezi věžatými hrady s cimbuřím, kde obcházejí bezhlavé oběti s řinčícími řetězy, a útulným předměstským domkem s ledničkou a ústředním topením, místo, kde bych, jakmile vejdu, cítila, že je tu něco v nepořádku, tak jsem vždycky pro tu druhou možnost ...more
Fabulantes
Aug 01, 2014 Fabulantes rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: terror
Reseña: http://www.fabulantes.com/2013/06/rel...
"'¿Cree usted en los fantasmas?' La pregunta que Edith Wharton nos lanza desde el prefacio que se incluye en esta edición de Relatos de fantasmas (...), es casi una provocación, un reto para que nos atrevamos a demostrar que somos capaces de resistir ese escalofrío irracional ante una buena historia de miedo. A pesar de que al lector moderno le separa casi un siglo de la mayoría de las historias, su lectura deja una extraña desazón que dura hasta b
...more
Lissa
Sep 27, 2007 Lissa rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
On the other hand, Edith Wharton is a fantastic twentieth century author. Though I find her full length books a bit meandering, she is the master of the short story. (I have similar feelings about Henry James.) All of these ghost stories are interesting, easy to read, and paint a fabulous picture of life in the early twentieth century in New England and abroad. Even if you couldn't quite stomach The Age of Innocence or The House of Mirth, any collection of her stories is worth a second look.
Juliana
The rating is probably between 2 and 3 stars, so I'm rounding up. These stories were well-written and eerie in the proper sense, but I was continually frustrated by the lack of explanation or even resolution at the end of each one. Being eighty to one hundred years years old, the tales were "creepy" rather than terrifying, although there were a few scenes that gave me a chill. Nothing overly original, here -- although, again, they might have been when they were written.
Nefer
Jan 05, 2016 Nefer rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
My favourites are "Afterward" and "Miss Mary Pask", but I should also mention "All Souls'." The so-called 'irreliability' of the narrator makes the stories better, more oppressive, obsessive, attractive and puzzling. The open ends, the things left unsaid, the double meanings, the things that are merely suggested and never explicitly stated... It all makes you think of the stories long after you've finished reading them; at first, when you reach the end of one of these stories, you find yourself ...more
Michela
Questa recensione sarà breve e noiosa perché:

1- Edith Warthon non è in grado di scrivere storie di fantasmi
2- Questi racconti somigliano troppo a quelli di autori più famosi: Oscar Wilde per quanto riguarda il primo e Poe per il secondo.
3- Il terzo racconto manco l'ho letto perché, sinceramente, non ce l'ho proprio fatta.

Edith cara spero sia stata una svista dovuta alla noia. Non farlo più.
Ashley
May 05, 2008 Ashley rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
These stories are somewhat clever, but not very scary. The only story that I found even remotely scary was about a French chateau that was haunted by dogs. I know it sounds stupid, but it kind of creeped me out. However, the rest of the stories were pretty predictable--they might have scared you if you were living in 1910 and reading them by candlelight, but they're not going to scare you in today's world.
Patrick
I reserved this from the library not long after finishing ‘The Age of Innocence’, which I thoroughly enjoyed; in fact I saw it listed in the back of that edition and found myself surprised that the author had penned stories of this nature, though in retrospect it’s a genre which suits her insular, ruminative style extremely well.

This is something of a mixed bag. Some of the stories are rather predictable and formulaic, and while they might sometimes give up a flash of brilliant imagery, they’re
...more
Sillymuse
Sep 16, 2009 Sillymuse rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: anybody who loves to be scared instead of grossed out.
Clive Barker, Stephen King, the unending parade of Halloween movies pass for "horror" but are usually just graphic "ewwww". Wharton's stories will creep into your consciousness and unexpectedly wake you in the night with dreams of unease and dread. Any opportunity to watch the BBC adaptations of these stories is not to be missed -- just keep the lights on.
Nicki
Nov 03, 2010 Nicki rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: mystery, 2010

This is the perfect collection of ghost stories for readers who are a little faint of heart when it comes to scary tales and the supernatural as they are a little predictable and not overly terrifying. Wharton's writing is, of course, wonderful and flows beautifully.

My personal favorite was Pomegranate Seed.
Ignacio Senao f
Sep 05, 2014 Ignacio Senao f rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Siempre he leído que M.R. James es el mejor escritor de relatos de fantasma, pero cuando me leí todo sus relatos, supe que no me gustaba nada, demasiado repetitivo y poco original para nuestra actualidad. Ahora sé que Edith Wharton si que es la mejor escritor de historias de fantasmas.

Tal como dice en sus notas, paso mucho miedo en toda su vida, todo por una enfermedad que la tuvo en la línea de la vida y la muerte. Esto lo refleja aquí, con relatos muy originales incluso en nuestro presnete, la
...more
Kelsey Sorenson
Jul 16, 2015 Kelsey Sorenson rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
If you love ghost stories, Edith Wharton is a must. The stories each have their own flavor, and you can't be sure what you're going to get with each one. Also, Wharton is a phenomenal writer, and ghost stories are accessible to a whole different audience from her novels.
Mark
Feb 23, 2016 Mark rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
"No, I don't believe in ghosts, but I'm afraid of them." A dark and precisely-written collection of supernatural curiosities. The strength of the collection of stories is its wide range of manifestations, from human spectres to threatening envelopes to a pair of disembodied eyes. My favorites are probably "The Lady's Maid's Bell," the most traditional story where a new lady's maid contends with a house full of secrets and the phantom of her predecessor, "Kerfol" in which a new homeowner encounte ...more
Sarah
Oct 02, 2013 Sarah rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
(insert spooky noise here)
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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
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“But I have sometimes thought that a woman's nature is like a great house full of rooms: there is the hall, through which everyone passes in going in and out; the drawing-room, where one receives formal visits; the sitting-room, where the members of the family come and go as they list; but beyond that, far beyond, are other rooms, the handles of whose doors perhaps are never turned; no one knows the way to them, no one knows whither they lead; and in the innermost room, the holy of holies, the soul sits alone and waits for a footstep that never comes.” 63 likes
“For hours she had lain in a kind of gentle torpor, not unlike that sweet lassitude which masters one in the hush of a midsummer noon, when the heat seems to have silenced the very birds and insects, and, lying sunk in the tasselled meadow grasses, one looks up through a level roofing of maple-leaves at the vast, shadowless, and unsuggestive blue.” 3 likes
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