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Ethan Frome

3.42  ·  Rating details ·  117,471 ratings  ·  6,039 reviews
The classic novel of despair, forbidden emotions, and sexual undercurrents set against the austere New England countryside

Ethan Frome works his unproductive farm and struggles to maintain a bearable existence with his difficult, suspicious and hypochondriac wife, Zeena. But when Zeena's vivacious cousin enters their household as a hired girl, Ethan finds himself obsessed w
Paperback, Penguin Classics, 99 pages
Published 2005 by Penguin Classics (first published 1911)
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Xantha Page It seems like every other popular novel on goodreads has someone asking this question about it. These poor kids. When I was a teen I sure as hell didn…moreIt seems like every other popular novel on goodreads has someone asking this question about it. These poor kids. When I was a teen I sure as hell didn't let my parents see what I was reading.(less)

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Jeffrey Keeten
Mar 13, 2014 rated it it was amazing
“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
dead letter office
* Spoilers follow*

This is a romantic tragedy that culminates in a sledding accident. I will just say a few brief words about that. First, there is probably a reason that sledding accidents don't figure more prominently in tragedies. Shakespeare wrote like 13 tragedies and to the best of my knowledge none featured a sledding accident (I have not read Titus Andronicus, so I can't be sure). If Shakespeare doesn't need to include a sled wreck, then neither do you.

I will also say that I foun
Mar 24, 2017 rated it really liked it
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
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
Sparse prose is 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?


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
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
Feb 17, 2014 rated it it was amazing
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," & her not-as-much (personally, alas) is "House of Mirth", but sandwiched between them is this tense novella about the restrictions of "unconventional" feeling. & it has the type of invigorating force that compels the reader to do his one job and do it good. I adore this slim tom ...more
Aug 30, 2007 rated it did not like it
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.
It is a novel to despair of love, pessimistic, where selfishness and conventions take a predominant place. It is a novel where the silences speak louder than the words.
That's a kind of closed-door where Edith Wharton, between the lines, seems to denounce with her precise writing the customs and social conditions of her time.
It takes us into literature from another age, where talent was a necessary preamble to writing.
Sep 04, 2009 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: classic-novels
“If you know Starkfield, Massachusetts, you know the post-office. If you know the post-office you must have seen Ethan Frome drive up to it, drop the reins on his hollow-backed bay and drag himself across the brick pavement to the white colonnade: and you must have asked yourself who he was…”
- Edith Wharton, Ethan Frome

Famously known as an acute observer of class and society in classics such as The Age of Innocence, Edith Wharton’s Ethan Frome strays far from her typical stomping grounds, leavi
Jul 12, 2020 rated it it was amazing
But Mrs. Hale had said, "You've had an awful mean time, Ethan Frome," and he felt less alone with his misery.

This is the book with marvelous writing that sets you in a different atmosphere and melancholic emotional state. It is a story about longing, isolation, sorrow, complexity of life, written in long descriptive prose that is surely my favored kind of writing style.
A great piece of literature that expands beyond the ethics and morals and shows life is a much more perplexing than a black an
Jul 28, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: classics
Because Edith Wharton was born in 1862 and this novel was written in 1911, I’ve always resisted reading the story fearing that it might contain florid prose and descriptions, which are often mind-numbing for me. Not only did I love it, I was reminded of one of my all time favorite novels, Stoner.

Ethan Frome was a mostly money strapped farmer in a miserable marriage while Stoner was raised by hard-working farm people. Both men were married to wives that were cold hearted, passive-aggressive and
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
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
Paul Bryant
Feb 11, 2021 rated it liked it
Shelves: novels
Every review of this contains so many spoilers that I think everyone is beyond being spoiled. Regarding Ethan Frome, you’re all unspoilable.


Just hear those slay-bells jingling, ring ting tingling too
Come on it's lovely weather for a slay-ride together with you
Outside the snow is falling and that nasty sick old wife of yours is calling "Yoo hoo!"
But I’m going to ignore the old bag for once and go for a slay-ride with you
Our cheeks are nice and rosy and comfy and cozy are we
We've snuggled cl
Feb 01, 2012 rated it liked it
*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


There is the stark landscape of the stark field. Starkfield it is.

Then slowly, through third party eyes, with all the distance that this implies, we begin to discern a shape that slowly acquires its own entity against its background. No, not even third party eyes, but third parties of the third party. Even further removed. For the book begins thus: I had the story, bit by bit, from various people, and, as generally happens in such cases, each time it was a different story.

And thus
Nov 12, 2013 rated it really liked it
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
Oct 28, 2012 rated it really liked it
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
Trish (concerningnovels)
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
Jan 16, 2018 rated it really liked it
This one is short but sweet and very quick to read. I understand that lots of American readers were 'forced' to read it at school and therefore groan when they hear the title, but I was in an English school and I do not remember a single American author being allowed onto our English literature syllabus at that time. I hope things have changed since.

So everything Edith Wharton is new to me and I like some, including Ethan Frome and Summer and am not so keen on others, including The Age of Innoce
Jason Koivu
Jun 01, 2009 rated it liked it
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
Jan 15, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
”He seemed a part of the mute melancholy landscape, an incarnation of its frozen woe, with all that was warm and sentient in him fast bound below the surface; but there was 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 many Sta ...more
Glenn Sumi
Dec 14, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 1900-1960, classics
For over a decade, I’ve wanted to read Edith Wharton’s Ethan Frome in the winter. I’m one of those folks who likes to time reading a book with the season in which the book is set.

This year, I finally got around to it. I think what had prevented me from finishing the book before was the narrative device Wharton uses. You know the one: the narrator comes upon a scene, spots the central character, and then somehow gets enough information to tell the main tale. (See also: Wuthering Heights.)

The thin
Sep 13, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Haunting, tragic tale of forbidden love
Jan 24, 2016 rated it really liked it
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
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
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
Feb 03, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: classics
This is the first time I've read this book since high school, and I'm a bit irritated with that teacher right now. Why was "Ethan Frome" chosen as assigned reading? The story is grim, and its grown-up themes of adultery and morality didn't mean much to me, other than to make me think I disliked Edith Wharton as a writer.

Which is why I am complaining decades later about this high school assignment. Because now I know that Edith Wharton is a marvelous writer — truly one of my favorite American aut
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.
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Books2Movies Club: Ethan Frome 4 21 May 24, 2020 07:49AM  
Reading 1001: Ethan Frome 8 23 Mar 28, 2020 06:37PM  
Play Book Tag: Ethan Frome by Edith Wharton - 4 stars 3 9 Jul 31, 2019 01:06PM  
Play Book Tag: Ethan Frome, by Edith Warthon, 4 stars 5 17 Dec 02, 2018 10:26AM  
Goodreads Librari...: correct page count 1 15 Jul 31, 2018 08:07PM  
Who Doesn't Love ...: Ethan Frome / Edith Wharton - 4**** 1 4 Jun 20, 2018 06:49PM  
Play Book Tag: Ethan Frome / Edith Wharton - 4**** 1 10 Jun 20, 2018 06:04PM  

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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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