The Ghost Stories of Edith Wharton
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The Ghost Stories of Edith Wharton

3.89 of 5 stars 3.89  ·  rating details  ·  1,626 ratings  ·  118 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 1975)
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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
Kay
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
Sue
Apr 14, 2011 Sue rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  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
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.
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
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
Fabulantes
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
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.
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
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.
Sillymuse
Sep 16, 2009 Sillymuse rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  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

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.
Sarah
(insert spooky noise here)
Carrie
As recommended by the author, I am trying to give these stories the "silence and continuity" they need to be appreciated fully- this is taking longer than I thought.

I am glad that I took the time to read these stories without distractions- it gives the stories time to seep into your brain and send chills down your spine. Sometimes more chills than others, but they were all good stories.

Wharton also made a statement in the preface that I found amazingly applicable to our times considering that...more
Rachel
Rating this is a challenge - Edith Wharton is an exceptional writer, and some of the lines in these stories fair glowed off the page in their perfection.
And yet... almost all of the stories failed to impress. This one had a strange ending. That one had no ending. That one...well, something happened, but I'll be damned if I can figure out what she was getting at. (This last may be due to familiarity with the time period and fiction from it - of which my familiarity is limited to two novels by Edi...more
Isadora Wagner
Recommended. I enjoyed the imaginative and haunting "Kerfol" and "Permission Seed." In many ways, Wharton reminded me of a muted down Elizabeth Bowen. While both women are interesting studies from the female gothic camp, I rather think I prefer Bowen's fictional vigor to what can seem, at times, arcane and tepid in Wharton's post-Victorian era work. I have to remind myself that Wharton was a child of the Victorian age and preceded Bowen by half a lifetime, the one writing at the beginning of mod...more
Keirstan
Edith Wharton's collection of ghost stories opens with a foreword that sets the tone for the tales that follow. Wharton admits that what is frightening to one is not necessarily frightening to another, but the stories of her collection play on her personal definition of "scary". In the ensuing eleven stories, themes of unfamiliar locales--usually cavernous, long-abandoned old family estates--and supernatural ghostly apparitions abound, generally leaving the reader sufficiently creeped out. What...more
Elizabeth Yon
I had never thought of the peerless Edith Wharton as a writer of ghost stories (think, instead, Ethan Frome, Hudson River Bracketed, and others). I love Wharton's writing, though, so I was curious to see what she could do with the genre. What she can do is deftly weave a shroud of vague yet insistent terror, much like a ghost itself. She keeps strictly to the ghost story bailiwick, never veering into the bloodier domain of the horror writer, and spins out her tales with such a soft yet masterful...more
Patrick Limcaco
I may have prematurely declared that The Ghost Stories of Edith Wharton is very scary because after finishing it, I realized that most of the stories do not have the quality of a really good scary movie or book, the kind that stays with you long after you consumed them. I think the scare factor has a lot to do with where each story was read. For instance, I read ‘The Eyes’ on my way to work, in a bus, J. Lo’s This is Me… Then, a ridiculous album with a ridiculous album title, playing on the iPod...more
bup
It probably deserves more than 3 stars, but that's what I'm giving it. I think I'm learning 'psychological horror' means 'too subtle for me when I'm in the mood for a Halloween story.'

There are some cool stories in this collection - Afterward, Bewitched and All Souls are not to be missed. Of equal interest are the preface, wherein Wharton notes that ghosts are in decline as the modern age gets more modern (they just don't fit well next to refrigerators and electric lights), and the ending note w...more
Julie
I've been a fan and collector of ghost stories for as long as I can remember, and had come across some of Edith Wharton's stories in various anthologies - usually the most well-known of her stories like The Lady's Maid's Bell and Afterwards. This collection, however, contains all her stories where the supernatural plays some part. They are different from the classic English ghost stories of the likes of M R James or E F Benson in that the appearance of the ghost is not the crux of the story, but...more
Danielle
These ghost stories were good, but what I really liked was the writing. Wharton is a great author, with a knack for descriptions and effective prose. Some stories I really liked and others left me with the feeling that I was missing something, but didn't really have the energy to read it through again to figure it out. Wharton does seem to trust a lot in the intuitive powers of her readers, and sometimes I admit, I was not deserving of that trust (I'm hoping that had more to do with our disparat...more
Heather
I found a Mass Market version of this book from the 70s on the free shelf at my used bookstore, and immediately was drawn in by the title. I associate Wharton with society novels, not pulp paperbacks full of ghost stories, and so I had to give it a try.

The stories contained within are not all that scary. There are some very creepy moments, but I found in the end that most of the stories endings let me down, and I think something about the conventions of early 20th century literary style held it...more
Judy
Not one of these short stories failed to reel me in - with a few strokes of her eloquent pen Wharton conjures up moody atmospherics and disquieting settings, within which shadows and secrets grow and menace......But the spine-tingling effects of the supernatural in these tales are given extra force by fine probing into the psychological depths of characters, important or unimportant, which gives them a realism that sets off the unccountable phenomena by contrast. Wonderful stuff!

There are eleven...more
Sus
A mixed bag -- not as strong as her novels, and I suspect not as strong as the collections of short stories she published herself. (Maybe that's what happens when you're famous and dead and people can publish all kinds of "collections" of your work, even the ones you didn't think so highly of yourself.) There are pacing issues, occasional traces of sentimentality (of which her novels are almost completely free -- but then again these were published in women's magazines), and, uncomfortably, Whar...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
Chad Schimke
GHOST STORIES - The Ghost Stories of Edith Wharton is a collection of short stories. Wharton begins each with an everyday scenario, followed by foreshadowing to imbue subtle horror. Don’t look for over the top knife wielding gore. Think along the lines of ghosts that influence psychology, mind and emotion. One of my personal favorites is The Lady's Maid's Bell. A new maid is employed by an invalid in a gloomy Hudson Valley mansion. As she gets to know the house staff, she is bothered by several...more
Kay Davis
If you're looking for something to read on Halloween, try Edith Wharton's "Ghost Stories." Wharton was a decent mystery writer. In "A Bottle of Perrier," a confrontation between two desert travelers turns deadly. In "The Eyes," a mansion guest can't seem to get the figure with two glowing eyes at the foot of the bed to go away. And in "All Souls," an invalid's servants suddenly disappear and are caught holding pagan rituals in her backyard. "Ghost Stories" is spooky fireside reading.
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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 Ethan Frome and Other Short Fiction The Custom of the Country

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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.” 46 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.” 2 likes
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