Ethan Frome & Selected Stories (Barnes & Noble Classics Series)
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Ethan Frome & Selected Stories (Barnes & Noble Classics Series)

3.62 of 5 stars 3.62  ·  rating details  ·  11,430 ratings  ·  75 reviews
One of Edith Wharton s few works of fiction that takes place outside of an urban, upper-class setting, Ethan Frome draws upon the bleak, barren landscape of rural New England. A poor farmer, Ethan finds himself stuck in a miserable marriage to Zeenie, a sickly, tyrannical woman, until he falls in love with her visiting cousin, the vivacious Mattie Silver. As Mattie is forc...more
ebook, 274 pages
Published June 1st 2009 by Barnes & Noble Classics (first published 1911)
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Esteban del Mal
Ethan Frome is one of those stories that people have a strong reaction to, typically in the negative. And if you read it and rated it one or two stars, you probably don't like it because you think everyone falls somewhere on the Seth Rogan/Tony Robbins spectrum of affable enthusiasm for life. You probably also grew-up in some nondescript suburb which you never moved from, most of your friends are white, and if not, they at least share your taste in chain restaurants and are consistently, non-thr...more
Sadness. The ultimate feeling I have upon leaving behind Ethan Frome is one of infinite sadness. Sadness for people stuck - stuck in poverty, stuck in relationships that lack even friendliness, let alone love, stuck in a life they can never leave behind. To watch the transformation of Ethan and Mattie from people filled with such passion to people so broken and alone filled me with such an ache.

That's the kind of story Ethan Frome is - one that leaves me aching. Aching with sadness for happiness...more
Sam Flanagan
Though not set in her typical circles of socialite aristocracy, Ethan Frome carries the distinct flavor of Edith Wharton. Her firm grasp of the human struggle for independence and understanding is pervasive and profound. Ethan is the embodiment of the awakened romantic who is bound to a constricting and outdated system of social norms and moralities, and the dreary landscape of a small Connecticut town in the dead of winter serves as the realized metaphor of the paralyzing hopelessness that Fro...more
The bleak New England setting of Ethan Frome helps set the tone for this rather bleak little novel.
Ethan Frome is a poor, down trodden, and in my opinion weak willed farmer. He is married to Zeena, a hypochondriac, uncommunicative, rigid, complaining, manipulative (I could go on...) woman.
When Zeena's destitute cousin Mattie Silver moves in with the Fromes Ethan quickly becomes enamored with the young, happy woman who seems to be the exact opposite of his wife in every way. Ethan finds himself b...more
Mar 25, 2013 Charly rated it 2 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Anyone.
Ethan Frome and the other selected stories were a bit on the transparent side for me. Perhaps for their time they were more engrossing, but it wasn't a thrilling adventure for me.

Frome is a man caught between two lives and in trying to deal with it ends up caught in yet another.

Predictable and not something I move right to the top of my "to read" list.

Memorable Quotes
Ethan Frome
"Guess he's been in Starkfield too many winters. Most of the smart one's get away."

"He seemed a part of the mute melancholy landscape, an incarnation of its frozen woe, with all that was warm and sentient in him fast bound below the surface; but there was nothing unfriendly in his silence.“

“...he lived in a depth of moral isolation too remote for casual access...”

“It looks just as if it was painted!” It seemed to Ethan that the art of definition could go no farther,
William Galaini
Yeah ... I gave this one another go recently and I still hated it. Despite being fairly well-written with some pleasant narrative variety, I couldn't change my mind about the meager quality of the themes, story, and nihilistic approach to human misery.

Here's why:

Ethan Frome is a weak man with poor decision making tendencies. He has zero trust in his feelings, his personal worth, and absolutely no sense of agency over his life. He is the protagonist of our story, having married a horrid shrew of...more
Mark Sandbothe
Ethan Frome: A short story set in a cold and brutal New England town. The geography and weather play a substantial part in this short story. Its all pervasive. I liked that it was told in a flashback mode as it internalized the inevitably of everything that was going to happen. Everything lead inexorably toward it. I did think the sled riding incident at the end was somewhat contrived. Really, out of the blue Mattie says to him; let’s kill ourselves, I can’t do anything without you; and Ethan ag...more
I'm on an Edith Wharton kick...well, I've always been on an Edith Wharton kick. Anyway, this is a small volume of her short fiction. Ethan Frome, her best known novelette, is the lead story. It is excellent as it evokes winter's isolation and the poverty of the Lenox area, where Edith built her famous house, The Mount.

As an aside, we visited The Mount about seven or eight years ago and toured the exquisite gardens. (Edith was, among so many other things, a professional classic garden historian....more
My appreciation for the writing of Edith Wharton continues to grow. This book displays quite a range. While House of Mirth and The Age of Innocence both portray things from the uppercrust vantage point, she has no problem inhabiting the character of a poor New England farmer. She inhabits both male and female characters. She is the mistress of portraying subtle flashes of a character.

Ethan Frome was heart-rending but still managed to contain a surprise I didn't expect...even if the surprise was...more
I'm not that big of a fan of the genre or era that Wharton writes in and I found Ethan Frome to be the least compelling story in this collection. Nevertheless, at some parts I was pleasantly surprised by how unexpectedly on-point she was with her observations and I can certainly see why her stories are considered classics.
Frank Spencer
I just read Ethan Frome and will save the other stories for later. Her writing here is just as good as in The Age of Innocence. It is a lot darker here, with a lot of writing describing darkness, hopelessness and danger. This is surely an early book to have a suicide pact, but there it is. People stuck in situations and relationships that hold no advantage for them is certainly a theme. It is interesting that the horses are described by their breed or color like, "a big-boned grey." The horses s...more
Another Edith Wharton novel, another entry in my "This made me want to shoot myself (in a good way)" diary! Honestly, Ethan Frome itself is my least favorite thing I've read by her, but the short stories "The Pretext" and "Xingu" are so fantastic, and in such different ways. I was devastated and heartbroken by "The Pretext"; I giggled all the way through "Xingu", and completely cracked up at one point. I liked the other stories in this edition also, and as for Ethan Frome itself: to say it's my...more
Jennifer Woods
I liked this book. I liked it so much better than The Chronicles of a Death Foretold. I could actually get into this book. The whole book I was thinking that Mattie and Ethan should be together instead of Zena and Ethan. However, I was also thinking how if he did marry Mattie it would be just like his marriage with Zena since both of them helped him care for someone in his family and he fell in love with each of them while this was occurring. The parallel between this book and Chronicle is the w...more
I actually have a Kindle Edition of "The Complete Works of Edith Wharton" So I am immersed. And impressed. And confused, since I now have read so many stories about repressed and beautiful and wealthy and frustrated and....Well it is interesting that both Ethan Frome and Summer break that mold, showing poverty and 'low' society, but still give such insight into the mores of that era. So different from ours, and yet the desires, fears, losses are all the same. Human nature. I can see why they ass...more
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Jun 21, 2010 Jeweleye marked it as to-read  ·  review of another edition
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
I'm probably being unfair in my rating of this book. Usually, I'm much more modest in devaluating the worth of what has been claimed as a classic. Who am I to swim against the current of expert opinion? But I read it years ago told that it was a modern tragedy. But tragedy, for me, has to prepare a protagonist to face an inevetible downfall. I just didn't believe in the inevetible in this story just like I didn't for the awful "Dead Poets Society" - I'm a poor rich kid who's daddy won't let me a...more
Edith Wharton has a way of describing the bleak, cold landscape of rural New England like no other; she also knows how to get into the head of her characters and illuminate their psychological torment and severe loneliness, matching the inner with the outer landscape seamlessly. Ethan Frome is both a pathetic and sympathetic character, eking out a a dispassionate life, until Mattie shines the only brightness in his miserable existence; but don't hope for a happily-ever-after ending. This is Whar...more
An author with a penchant for pathos....if you like classic short stories and musings on what makes humans tick, read Edith Wharton.
JL Smither
Oct 14, 2008 JL Smither rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: people who didn't like it the first time
I hated this book in high school when I read it, but rereading as an "adult" really made a huge difference. Maybe it's that I've experienced a few snowy winters now and know how crazy and depressed they can make people. Maybe it's because I know a little more about life and relationships now or because I don't read books to merely entertain me anymore. I don't know, but I have to recommend everyone who hated this in high school try re-reading it. Maybe you'll be surprised!
I only read Ethan Frome in this book. The story was okay but it wasn't my favorite
This is the first novel I have read from Edith Wharton. I loved it. I'm certain I'll be reading more from her before long. As a technical critique: it was well written, straight forward with a singular theme, void of unnecessary frills, and certainly memorable. As an emotional critique: I was completely sucked in and transported from my living room to a sleigh in 1911 New England. I enjoyed reading this story, and my heart aches for Ethan.
doug bowman
I was really into the first part of the book. There was one brilliantly written package where Wharton describes the main character's utter awareness of how his hand is maneuvering to just engage in the slightest touch of the hand of the young girl he is fixated on. Then the book gets incredibly clumsy, like some bad Flintstones episode

Re-read it in preparation for teaching it and liked it a lot better the second time
the stories in this volume are timeless. Pathos is the theme. even the saddest of circumstances have glints of pleasure.
Fifteenth book of the school year. This was quite possibly the most depressing thing I've had to read in a really, really long time. That's about it. I really do wish I had something a bit more cheery to say about it, but one might notice when reading Ethan Frome's not cheery. At all.
Ethan Frome is probably the most depressing of her stories, although that doesn't mean I didn't enjoy it. Sad but memorable.

The short stories that accompany the Frome novella range from OK to hysterical (Xingu being the best - one of the best things I've ever read of Wharton's).
I honestly don't see what's so great about Ethan Frome. I had to read it for school and I thought it was depressing. I'll read books with depressing endings, but this one was way too depressing. Once I got about halfway through the book, I pretty much knew how it would end.
The fact that Edith Wharton was unhappily married certainly comes through in this and other stories. Written with subtlety, its bleak imagery painting an outward portrait of the inner suffering of her characters. It's like the New England version of Sartre's "No Exit."
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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 The Custom of the Country Summer

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“There are lots of ways of being miserable, but there’s only one way of being comfortable, and that is to stop running round after happiness. If you make up your mind not to be happy there’s no reason why you shouldn’t have a fairly good time.” 6 likes
“Xingu!" she scoffed. "Why, it was the fact of our knowing so much more about it than she did—unprepared though we were—that made Osric Dane so furious. I should have thought that was plain enough to everybody!” 3 likes
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