Jonathan's Reviews > Ethan Frome

Ethan Frome by Edith Wharton
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Oct 06, 2011

really liked it
bookshelves: classic-literature, own, 1001-books-to-read-before-you-die

Ethan Frome is more of a novella than a full length novel. However that is not to say that the story lacks any of the depth of longer novels. No indeed as the precise and yet beautiful language aids to promote a very deep and in many ways chilling tragedy of a tale.

If I were to subtitle Ethan Frome it could read something like: 'or why not to marry a hypochondriac wife and then allow a young attractive girl to board at your house.' Of course I suspect the subtitle would be rather long, be impractical and would mutate into some grammatical nightmare.
However the imaginary subtitle does reveal the basic premise of this text. Ethan Frome trapped in a loveless marriage feels led to seek love in Mattie Silver, his wife's energetic cousin. And naturally this leads to conflict and a fascinating ending.

Yes indeed the ending of Ethan Frome is more than fascinating. It is downright shocking and tragic. Ethan Frome is no light read for anyone who wants a happy romantic tale. In the end Ethan From ends up as a tale of sorrow. I feel that this novel ends up serving as a conveyor of the warning that happiness is not found within pleasurable emotions. I feel though that like many literary novels Wharton merely writes this warning without providing any answers. What instead is true happiness found within? Where is fulfilment and peace observed? The novel would become far stronger if any hint of an answer were to be found within rather than a simple warning.
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Comments (showing 1-4 of 4) (4 new)

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The Pirate Ghost (Formerly known as the Curmudgeon) Another wonderful, thought provoking read from Johnathan.

Thank you!


Jonathan No problem Hugh! I read this one for my year 11 literature class and I just love the language of it. The environment she describes is hauntingly beautiful. I quite like Wharton's writing.


Dolors Nice compact review and interesting question left in the air.
I guess Wharton intended each of us to find our own answers...


Travelling Sunny Very well-written review, Jonathan.


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