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Ethan Frome

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3.35  ·  Rating details ·  81,826 Ratings  ·  4,204 Reviews
Often regarded as Edith Wharton's finest achievement, Ethan Frome contrasts sharply with her usual ironic contemplation of fashionable New York society. Set in the bleak winter landscape of New England farmlands, this keenly-etched portrait of the simple inhabitants of a nineteenth-century village is a masterpiece of literary realism. Ethan is a patient, rough-hewn man tor ...more
Audio CD, 3 pages
Published October 1st 2007 by Blackstone Audiobooks (first published 1911)
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Jane Mclean Definitely clean. I read it in school as a 16-year-old [50 years ago], saw the Liam Neeson movie twice, read it again today. I believe "Ethan Frome"…moreDefinitely clean. I read it in school as a 16-year-old [50 years ago], saw the Liam Neeson movie twice, read it again today. I believe "Ethan Frome" is wasted on teen-agers; they don't have the life experiences to empathize with his plight, to "get" his stark and depressing life. Better suited for adults with a few life challenges in their resumes.(less)

Community Reviews

(showing 1-30)
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Brina
Mar 24, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: classics, novella
Because March is women's history month, I made it a point to only read women authors over the course of the month. As the month winds to a close, I have visited many places and cultures, learning about historical events from a female perspective. Yet, to observe women's history month, it would not be complete with paying homage to classic authors. In this regard, I decided to read Ethan Frome, Edith Wharton's tragic novella.

Ethan Frome of Starkfield, Massachusetts has known much tragedy in his
...more
dead letter office
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Jeffrey Keeten
Mar 13, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
“He seemed a part of the mute melancholy landscape, an incarnation of it's frozen woe, with all that was warm and sentient in him fast bound below the surface; but there was nothing nothing unfriendly in his silence. I simply felt that he lived in a depth of moral isolation too remote for casual access, and I had the sense that his loneliness was not merely the result of his personal plight, tragic as I guessed that to be, but had in it, as Harmon Gow had hinted, the profound accumulated cold of ...more
karen
Aug 25, 2010 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: littry-fiction

spoilers?? what spoilers??

i have changed my stance on the cover. a) initially, i thought that it was showing an altogether different type of activity, and then b) when ariel called it a spoiler, i reinterpreted it to something else and was still wrong, and then c) everything that may potentially be spoiled is pretty much spelled out in the first ten pages. so is that a spoiler, or is that foreshadowing??

tomato, potato...

what is so excellent about this book is that it is not at all a depressing
...more
Fabian
Feb 17, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Magnificent, spectacular... I somehow always feel I must assign many types of superlatives to the magnificent & spectacular Edith Wharton! Definitely top ten writers of ALL TIME contender. Her best is "Age of Innocence," and her not-as-much (personally, alas) is "House of Mirth", but sandwiched between them is this tense novella about the restrictions of "unconventional" feeling. And it has the type of invigorating force that compels the reader to do his one job and do it good. I adore this ...more
George
Aug 30, 2007 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: drivers who don't use turn signals, people who talk out loud in a movie theater during the film
"Hey Mrs. Kinetta, are you still inflicting all that horrible Ethan Frome damage on your students?" - John Cusack, Grosse Pointe Blank

If you're looking for a book with an ever-increasing level of misery, this one is hard to beat. Try this test the next time you're with a group of your friends: just mention "Ethan Frome" out loud, and see how many of them groan audibly.
Henry Avila
Jun 01, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
In the bleak setting of 1880's Starkfield, appropriately named, (Lenox, western Massachusetts) where it always seems like perpetual winter, and its cold, dark, gloomy, ambiance, a poor, uneasy farmer, Ethan Frome, 28, is all alone, his mother has just died, the woman who took good care of her, Zenobia (Zeena) Pierce, is about to leave, though seven years junior to the lady, he purposes, she accepts gladly and the biggest mistake he believes, of his life, occurs. Zeena, not a beauty, likes nursin ...more
Duane
I had already read most of Edith Wharton's major novels by the time I got around to reading Ethan Frome, and I was surprised by how different it was. Where did this come from? Wharton came from the high society of New York City which she so adeptly portrayed in The Age of Innocence and The House of Mirth. Ethan Frome was set in a small New England town aptly named Starkville, and concerns the life of a poor farmer and his unhappy marriage. His wife's cousin comes to live with them, Ethan falls i ...more
Trish
Aug 22, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites, classics
They stood together in the gloom of the spruces, an empty world glimmering about them wide and gray under the stars.

The perfect soundtrack for this novel: "I Need My Girl" by The National.

Wow, I'm speechless. It's ten past midnight and I just couldn't go to sleep without finishing this story. Don't let its size fool you, every page of this book is full of raw emotion that will leave you feeling heavy and achy all over. The writing is so elegant and the prose, every word, every phrase was thought
...more
Shovelmonkey1
Oct 28, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: for people who've got a little winters chill in their hearts
Recommended to Shovelmonkey1 by: 1001 books list
I have been on a bit of a four-star roll recently and am beginning to fear that I accidentally pressed against my generous ratings button when I was slumped against the bookcase last week trying to figure out what to read next. It's cold and dreary outside and I was seeking something warm and fuzzy, maybe a bit light hearted or some sort of serial fantasy to see me through the onset of the winter months.... and then my hand brushed by the spine of Ethan Frome...

Which is clearly none of the thing
...more
Susie
Finally, I have the right word for this predicament: When a capable author uses her prowess to create a work whose sole purpose seems to be to depress the reader, it can be described as Frome. This word can also be used as a verb, noun, adjective (Frome-ish, Frome-ier, etc), adverb (Frome-ly), etc. to similarly describe the effect it has on the reader, (ie, "I was Fromed.")

An example used in a sentence may be: "John Steinbeck was clearly suffering from a touch of the Frome when he penned The Pe
...more
Jason Koivu
Jun 01, 2009 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction
Jesus H Christ but this is bleak stuff! Even the town name Wharton chose, Starkfield....holy shit, hide the guns, rope and knives!

I was born and raised in New England, wandering about the wooded, hilly landscapes of Massachusetts, Vahmont, New Hampshah and Maine for much of my youth. The springs and summers were green and alive. The autumns and winters were dark and dead. So half the year was glorious, good times and the other half you spent desperately trying to survive while wondering if it wo
...more
Stephanie
Hauntingly sad... beautifully written... classic story!!!

5 shiny stars!! Edith Wharton has woven an ironic, tragic, and phenomenally written tale! Ethan Frome was published in 1911 and is different from her other works. It is notable that Wharton was going through a period of dissatisfaction with her own marriage and a "doomed" affair around the time of writing this story.

The book is set in a fictional rural Massachusetts town called Starkfield. The winters are brutal and the people are toug
...more
Erika
Jan 24, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
For me, this novel is not Wharton’s best work, but still scores an easy 4 stars. She is that great.
Ethan Frome is a farmer married to a woman he dislikes so intensely that he blows out the candle before undressing so he doesn’t have to look at her when he gets into bed.
And Zenobia is truly horrible. She’s a manipulative, self-absorbed, black hole of negativity who suffers from vaguely described “shooting pains” that keep her from doing any real work. Partly to help Zeena out, the couple brings
...more
Julie
Jul 06, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Sparse prose is sexy.

Sexy.

And that's why I've given it a special shelf on my page, called a buck and change.

Guess what else sparse prose is?

Rare.

That's why I have only seven books on there.

Why? Why are these precious books that fall under 200 pages so rare?

Because writers tend to overwrite everything.

But not Edith Wharton, the queen of sparse prose. And Ms. Wharton, though she may appear stolid in her old black and white portraits, was one sexy lady.

She manages in Ethan Frome to take one anti-h
...more
B0nnie
Feb 01, 2012 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
*Spoilers, proceed with caution*. This very sad tale Ethan Frome is an account of the life of Zenobia Frome, ‘Zeena’. She was named after the great Roman queen who led a revolt against the empire - somewhat like Princess Leia.

Zeena had sacrificed her life to the man she loved, Ethan Frome. However, he repaid her by having a secret love affair with Zeena’s pennyless and lazy cousin, Matty, to whom Zeena had given a home. She was pretty, and knew when to flutter her eyelashes.

But poor Zeena was
...more
Johnny
Sep 09, 2008 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Johnny by: William Chu
Shelves: literature
Ever read a book as required reading (in high school or college) and then, rediscover it as an adult? Ethan Frome had receded to the dark recesses of my mind such that I had even forgotten that I had read it. I remembered reading Age of Innocence, but good old Ethan had left my mental building. When my youngest son left his retired textbook edition at my house (an old Scribner’s edition in trade paperback priced at $1.25 original price—oh for those days again!), I grudgingly put it on one of my ...more
Lindsey
This book is a good one to read if you live with someone who has also read it. This way, any time there is a lull in the conversation you can talk about how depressing it is. Conversations between me and my roommate often go something like this:

"You know what I was just thinking about? Ethan Frome."
"GOD. That book is so depressing."
"I know, right."

The book is not only enjoyable, but also a great conversation piece. Do not read it if you cannot stand unhappy endings.
Jenny (Reading Envy)
I started reading this on the Serial Reader app but finally paid for the full version so I didn't have to wait so long to finish it.
"Guess he's been in Starkfield too many winters."
I read this long ago, in 8th or 9th grade. I imagine we were assigned this at that age because it was a short novel, more of a novella, but it could not possibly have been as meaningful without having lived through some life first. Probably back then we were looking at Ethan and the symbols of winter, but this time ar
...more
Jan-Maat
Just when you think that it's safe to kiss someone you're not married to, just then, disaster lurks barely a sledge ride away!

Ethan Frome is remarkable, in probability wrongly, in my mind for its relentless bleakness. This is an American novella, by an American author in which there is no escape. The West is there, but the protagonist can't afford the journey. This an impoverished landscape, the modest hero ploughs an infertile furrow. An ungallant way to refer to a marriage, but there you go, i
...more
❀Julie
There is a lot of emotion packed into this haunting cautionary tale of forbidden love.  Set in old fashioned (circa early 1900’s) rural Massachusetts, it is written of the poor society, unlike other books I’ve read by this author.  It is a thought provoking read and addresses hardships and the moral choices made despite them.  The characters Ethan and Mattie were developed in such a way that the reader has compassion for them despite their moral dilemma of Ethan’s difficult marriage.   These cha ...more
Jennifer
Jan 03, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
“He seemed a part of the mute melancholy landscape, an incarnation of it's frozen woe, with all that was warm and sentient in him fast bound below the surface; but there was nothing nothing unfriendly in his silence. I simply felt that he lived in a depth of moral isolation too remote for casual access, and I had the sense that his loneliness was not merely the result of his personal plight, tragic as I guessed that to be, but had in it, as Harmon Gow had hinted, the profound accumulated cold of ...more
j
If you told me this was a longish deleted segment of Winesburg, Ohio, I would totally believe you, even taking into account the fact that one of the books was written by Sherwood Anderson and the other by Edith Wharton. Like the stories in that much revered short story cycle (no not novel), Ethan Frome concerns itself with grim characters burdened by unfulfilled dreams, dreams unfulfilled because of the strictures of society or their own inability to truly sieze the day. A chilly atmosphere, a g ...more
Helle
Jan 17, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 1001-books, american
This novel wrenched my heart in a way that I had not seen coming! For a novel that has only a few austere characters, whose nearest town is called Starkfield and which takes place in a bleak, wintry and isolated countryside, it packed a surprising punch, more than the other novels I’ve read by Wharton, most of which take place in upper-class, dazzling New York, a setting which most people, me included, would find much more compelling.

In the beginning I practically swooned at Wharton’s exquisite
...more
Perry
Feb 01, 2017 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Much Like a Fairy Tale Sans Magic or Fantasy Characters



The bleak winter setting and harshly cold town folk frame Wharton's fable offering a moral for both adulterous commoners and sloppy sledders.

An A- for mood and background; otherwise, this doesn't rate a comparison to Edith Wharton's outstanding social novels, The House of Mirth and The Age of Innocence, aimed at the moneyed muscid.
Sandy
This story tore my heart out. Quite appropriately, I finished listening to the audiobook on a frosty winter day following a heavy overnight snowfall. Gazing out at the white landscape from my warm and comfortable place, I pondered this strange tale (which took place in another - a fictitious - winter setting) and grasped for some pearl of wisdom or kernel of truth with which to soothe my heart.

Ethan Frome could have been a contemporary of ours. He entered adulthood optimistically -- with a dream
...more
Karen
Sep 13, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Haunting, tragic tale of forbidden love
Jason
Oct 16, 2010 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Jacob
August 2012

(view spoiler)

Good news, everyone!

Or rather, good news, everyone who had to read Ethan Frome in high school or college and developed a fanatical hatred of Edith Wharton and all her works
...more
Kyla Harris
Plot - 12/20
Characters - 12/20
Creativity - 11/20
Writing - 18/20
Pace - 7/10
Ending - 6/10
66/100 =
D+
2/5 stars

WHAT DID I JUST READ?! I can't believe I read this for english. It felt like such a pointless story. When I finished the book I didn't even realize it (reading the ebook) trying to go on to the next page to find that, nope! It's actually the end. I found the first half to be very slow but as the story went on it picked up pace and got really crazy with all the drama coming down. A lot of
...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 a ...more
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“I want to put my hand out and touch you. I want to do for you and care for you. I want to be there when you're sick and when you're lonesome.” 56 likes
“They seemed to come suddenly upon happiness as if they had surprised a butterfly in the winter woods.” 35 likes
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