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The Ghost Stories of Edith Wharton

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3.89  ·  Rating details ·  2,901 Ratings  ·  233 Reviews
These 11 spine-tingling tales of the supernatural bring to light the author's interest in the traditional New England ghost story and her fascination with spirits, hauntings, and other phenomena. Fine line-drawings by Laszlo Kubinyi enhance the mysterious and sometimes chilling mood.

The lady's maid's bell (1904)
The eyes (1910)
Afterward (1910)
Kerfol (1916)
The triumph of nig
...more
Paperback, 303 pages
Published October 10th 1997 by Scribner (first published 1937)
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Community Reviews

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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 Wharton's 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 sto
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Paul
Dec 25, 2015 rated it really liked it
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
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mark monday
Oct 15, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: horror-classic
Edith Wharton, delicate yet cruel, casts a cold eye on the misdeeds and toxic egos of men, and an occasionally more empathetic one on women and their struggles, in this collection of beautifully written stories. Precise prose: each sentence has a crystalline clarity, a careful distillation of words and ideas. Gorgeously atmospheric imagery: Wharton knows her way around sprawling manors of course, but has equal talent at evoking lonely moorlands, quiet roads at dusk, even a nearly empty fortress ...more
Kay
Aug 01, 2007 rated it it was amazing
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
Carla Remy
Feb 01, 2018 rated it really liked it
I quite like Edith Wharton's writing, but not every story here penetrated with me. A couple of them did. Kerfol is very emotional, with the ghosts of the murdered dogs. I really loved The Pomegranate Seed, with its mysterious mythological title, vague creepiness and open ended.ness
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
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.
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
Sue
Dec 06, 2010 rated it really liked it
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
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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
Mary
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.
Scott
Oct 07, 2018 marked it as abandoned  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: horror, short-stories
I am going to put this on hold indefinitely. I do want to finish it but I am struggling. Some of the stories are okay and some I don't get at all. The only one that has stuck with me is "Afterward", which I have read once before and also seen on the telly. Moving to "abandoned" so it isn't constantly looking over my shoulder on the main page.
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)
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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.
Lissa
Sep 27, 2007 rated it it was amazing
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.
Suzanne
Oct 17, 2016 rated it liked it
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.
Beth
Sep 15, 2018 added it
edith sure can write a sentence !
Kaion
Sep 24, 2011 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: horror, shorts, 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
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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
Karen
Apr 21, 2008 rated it it was amazing
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
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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.
Ashley
May 05, 2008 rated it it was ok
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.
Gabriel

Delightful!
Jennifer Oliveira
Oct 14, 2016 marked it as will-resume-later  ·  review of another edition
classic reverie
This is an interesting collection of 11 Ghost Stories which are short stories written by Edith Wharton spanning from 1909 through 1937. The following stories are listed & a brief review. All these stories are a different kind of ghost story which have outcomes with uncertainty & bewildering. Many stories have you wondering how it will end & your own imagination will have to suffice.The Lady's Maid Bell- 1902Hartley is in need of a job after recovering from a lingering illness. Due to ...more
una_sussa
Nov 02, 2017 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: racconti
Scritti a più riprese fra il 1909 e il 1937, questi undici racconti si inseriscono nella ghost-literature tradizionale, dando un notevole spazio a problemi quali le differenze di classe, il rapporto moglie-marito, gli obblighi di seguire convenzioni prestabilite.
L'orrore della Wharton è costruito, in modo insistente e lento, su un preciso tessuto sociale di ingiustizie e crudeltà quotidiane di cui gli spettri sono una conseguenza inevitabile.

Nella mia edizione (Bompiani - I delfini, 1995), un'il
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Dave
Oct 12, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Fun, shivery collection of ghost stories, most of which hinge on relationships past and present--or the past (dead?) impinging on the present. Wharton's a terrific writer, so even the slighter stories have an impact through scenery or storytelling. The best have that, plus a chill that lingers. My favorite stories are "Afterward," "The Triumph of Night," and "Pomegranate Seed." My favorite scene is the one with the woman with the broken ankle, alone in the snowbound house, making her way slowly ...more
yağmur
I'm DNFing it, there's no way I'll be able to finish this collection of short stories and I don't want to see it on my currently-reading
Bill Jr.
Feb 22, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Her analysis of the makings of a ghost story is sufficient reason for reading this awesome collection of tales from the pen of one of New England's premier writers.
Colleen Grier
Oct 05, 2018 rated it it was ok
Dnf
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Literary Horror: The Ghost Stories of Edith Wharton 19 28 Jun 05, 2018 02:23AM  
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2,408 followers
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
“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.” 75 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
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