Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “The Ghost Stories of Edith Wharton” as Want to Read:
The Ghost Stories of Edith Wharton
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

The Ghost Stories of Edith Wharton

3.89  ·  Rating details ·  2,558 Ratings  ·  194 Reviews
"'No, I don't believe in ghosts, but I'm afraid of them,' is much more than the cheap paradox it seems to many. To 'believe,' in that sense, is a conscious act of the intellect, and it is in the warm darkness of the prenatal fluid far below our conscious reason that the faculty dwells with which we apprehend ghosts." Edith Wharton, known for her keen observations of an emo ...more
Paperback, 270 pages
Published January 18th 1996 by Virago (first published 1937)
More Details... edit details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.
This book is not yet featured on Listopia. Add this book to your favorite list »

Community Reviews

(showing 1-30)
filter  |  sort: default (?)  |  Rating Details
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
Dec 25, 2015 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
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
T.D. Whittle
Jun 22, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
My husband and I enjoy reading Edith Wharton stories to each other, and in fact have managed to get through all, or at least nearly all, of her shorter works in this manner. I love her writing and these stories are no exception but, as other GR members have mentioned, these stories are not horrifying and some are not even scary. They are simply great stories, some of them chilling and others sad.
Sarah Anne
Oct 03, 2015 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.
Dec 06, 2010 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
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
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)
Jack Tripper

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.

Oct 30, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2013-books
I loved these stories.
Not too scary more of was that a ghost or a real person!
Beautifully written.
Oct 17, 2016 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Suzanne by: bookclub
Shelves: book-club
I always enjoy her writing, but this sort of genre-thing is not what Edith does best. Read House of Mirth instead, and Age of Innocence. Then House of Mirth again.
Sep 24, 2011 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
Robert Adam Gilmour
There's quite a few tales about people waiting for an absent person to return and wondering if they'll never return, as repetitive as that might be, these are probably the best stories in the collection. There's a humorous non-horror story that Wharton seems to regret writing (keep in mind the contents of this book varies in different versions, I have the 2009 Wordsworth version) but it has an ecstatic description of a church and I liked the way she compares women to houses with lots of rooms. W ...more
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.
Irene Lazlo
Esta recopilación de tres relatos de fantasmas de Edith Wharton es interesante porque las historias son muy diferentes entre sí a pesar de tener elementos en común. Quizá son un poco predecibles para el lector moderno, acostumbrado a todo tipo de películas de miedo con elementos sobrenaturales, pero la autora tiene un estilo impecable y me gusta que los fantasmas aparecen como reflejo de la vida de los protagonistas, en relación con secretos y actitudes de los personajes.
Sep 27, 2007 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.
May 05, 2008 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.

Jennifer Oliveira
Oct 14, 2016 marked it as will-resume-later  ·  review of another edition
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
Jan 09, 2016 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
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
Sep 25, 2016 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Giving this a 3.5 because Edith Wharton is always worth more than a 3. However the world seems to have progressed (or regressed?) past her stories - and ironically, this is probably a direct result of their contribution to our universal understanding of what makes a good ghost story.

While Wharton's stories prepare the field, I kept expecting them to go beyond and break new ground, which I believe they may have done in their own time before radio, TV, and the universal popularity of Stephen King
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
Apr 21, 2008 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
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.
Lauren Stoolfire
I only listened to "Bewitched" from the BBC Radio 4 Extra series A Night With A Vampire as narrated by David Tennant. Loved this short story. And David Tennant has a great voice for audio narration, too! It's odd listening to him speak with an American accent at points in the story, and then switch back to his natural accent! :D

You can listen to the show here:
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.
Oct 27, 2010 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.
Sep 16, 2009 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.
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 next »
There are no discussion topics on this book yet. Be the first to start one »
  • Ghost Stories
  • The Haunted Looking Glass
  • The Oxford Book of Victorian Ghost Stories
  • Gothic Tales
  • Madam Crowl's Ghost & Other Stories
  • The Collected Ghost Stories of E.F. Benson
  • The Mammoth Book of 20th Century Ghost Stories
  • Best Ghost Stories of Algernon Blackwood
  • The Oxford Book of Gothic Tales
  • The Power of Darkness: Tales of Terror
  • The Penguin Book of Ghost Stories: From Elizabeth Gaskell to Ambrose Bierce
  • Collected Ghost Stories
  • The Wind in the Rosebush and Other Stories of the Supernatural
  • Ghost Stories
  • The Virago Book of Ghost Stories
  • The Bishop of Hell and Other Stories (Mystery & Supernatural)
  • Ghost and Horror Stories
  • Just an Ordinary Day: The Uncollected Stories
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...

Share This Book

“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.” 69 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.” 4 likes
More quotes…