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The Ghost Stories of Edith Wharton

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3.90  ·  Rating details ·  3,189 ratings  ·  269 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.<br /><br />The lady's maid's bell (1904)<br />The eyes (1910)<br />Afterward (1910)<br />Kerfol (1916)<br />The triumph of night ...more
Paperback, 303 pages
Published October 10th 1997 by Scribner (first published 1937)
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Bill Kerwin
<br />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. <br /><br />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 stories ...more
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 dont 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. <br />Some of the tales arent really ghost stories, but explore everyday moral dilemmas and human ...more
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
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 &amp; a brief review. All these stories are a different kind of ghost story which have outcomes with uncertainty &amp; bewildering. Many stories have you wondering how it will end &amp; your own imagination will have to suffice.<br /><br />The Lady's Maid Bell- 1902 Hartley is in need of a job after recovering from a lingering illness. Due to ...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 characters. ...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
Sandy
Nov 04, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Perhaps because she is one of the most esteemed writers of the 20th century, Edith Wharton may not be immediately associated with the genre of horror. Today, she is probably best remembered for her novels "The House of Mirth" (1905) and "The Age of Innocence" (1920), which latter book copped her the Pulitzer Prize, as well as for her classic novella from 1911, "Ethan Frome," a staple reading assignment for all English majors. In novel after novel, Wharton examined the members of the upper crust ...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.
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 ghostly, ...more
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.
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).<br /><br />Overall though I find the stories ...more
Jack Tripper
<img src="https://i.gr-assets.com/images/S/compressed.photo.goodreads.com/hostedimages/1460704580i/18775352.jpg" width="350" height="575" alt="description" class="gr-hostedUserImg"><br><br>Cover of the 1976 Popular Library mass-market. You can tell it's post-<i>Exorcist</i>, as it definitely imitates the style, as did a lot of horror or occult-themed paperbacks of the day.<br><br><img src="https://i.gr-assets.com/images/S/compressed.photo.goodreads.com/hostedimages/1460705136i/18775446._SY540_.jpg" width="350" height="575" alt="description" class="gr-hostedUserImg">
Mary Durrant
Oct 30, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2013-books
I loved these stories.<br />Not too scary more of was that a ghost or a real person!<br />Beautifully written.
Tristram Shandy
<b>Who Are the Real Ghosts?</b><br /><br />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. <a class="jsShowSpoiler spoilerAction">(view spoiler)</a><span class="spoilerContainer" style="display: none">[Or is it not a ghost at all but the young girls sister?</span> ...more
Doug
[EDIT: Note, if this pops back up in my feed as some new thing...Goodreads seems to be having issues with multiple editions of a book and somehow marked both the paperback and kindle versions of read at the same time (which is, technically, true) and I was trying to not cheat on the "challenge" so I've been trying to get it to combine my reading, and it was glitchy, so I had to sort of delete one instance of the review so the other one could stand alone...and who knows what will happen next]<br /><br />I'm ...more
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. Wharton ...more
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.
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.<br />
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 <i>House of Mirth</i> instead, and <i>Age of Innocence</i>. Then <i>House of Mirth</i> again.
Jessie Morford
Mar 10, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Read as a part of a postal book club. My first Wharton and not characteristic of her other writing, I gather.<br />I am not much of a horror fan but I do enjoy suspense and stories that might involve the unexplained. In some cases, the stories themselves were unexplained, unresolved, or so open to interpretation it seems there continues to be uncertainty as to what had happened.<br />I enjoyed the atmospheric writing and misdirection or plot twists (not so much plot twists as twists in characters ideas of what ...more
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: reviewed, shorts, horror
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.)<br /><br />In the better stories of this grouping, ...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. <br /><br />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
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.
Sally
Mar 14, 2019 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I enjoy Whartons descriptive powers and the way that she creates menacing atmosphere. That said, she creates the situation for these ghost stories, some set in in New England, other in England or France, but doesnt seem to know how to end them. They usually just peter out. In about half of them the appearance of the ghost seems connected to some sort of mental breakdown. The historical Kerfol is one of the more successful since it combines a contemporary person visiting an old house with the purpose ...more
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
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.
Heather
It's been way too long since I read any Wharton and I'd forgotten how much I enjoy her writing. The ghost stories in this collection are fairly understated from a spooky perspective which is how I like them - more gothic in style than full-blown horror and a lot of questions left unanswered in the reader's mind at the end of each story.
Anna From Gustine
Belated review! So I've seen the term "elastic realism" used on GR in relation to this collection of short stories. I'm too lazy to look up the meaning so I'll just guess it means realistic stories with just enough of a mind bend that you have to do a double-take. The "supernatural" here is quite subtle, unlike magical realism or straight out supernatural fiction.<br /><br />So, yes, under that definition, this book is elastic realism with ghosts, I guess. Almost every story was like Wharton's trademark tales ...more
Liz Yon)
Jun 24, 2012 rated it it was amazing
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
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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 age ...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.” 80 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.” 5 likes
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