Kaion's Reviews > Ghost Stories of Edith Wharton

Ghost Stories of Edith Wharton by Edith Wharton
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it was ok
bookshelves: 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 grouping, Wharton leans on the more familiar ground of the psychological rather than the supernatural. "Pomegranate Seed," the story of a third wife whose husband is being haunted by letters beyond the grave from her deceased predecessor, is another is a long line of Wharton's explorations of marriage anxieties. (One remembers the shock of the doppelganger in the remarriages of "The Other Two", as well as Ellen Olenska as the unspoken third in between Newland and May in The Age of Innocence.)

My favorite is "After Holbein", which begins as a familiar satire of an old New York socialite before becoming something stranger. People being psychologically left behind as their gilded society fades away is a common Whartonian motif, but "Holbein" is the first I've encountered that approaches it with the element of physical aging. Underneath its phantasmagorical exterior, there's something surprisingly tender in Wharton's portrait of the last people dancing when the party is over. Rating: 2 stars
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Quotes Kaion Liked

Edith Wharton
“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.”
Edith Wharton, The Ghost Stories of Edith Wharton


Reading Progress

September 24, 2011 – Shelved
September 24, 2011 – Shelved as: horror
September 24, 2011 – Shelved as: shorts
September 30, 2011 – Started Reading
October 4, 2011 –
page 58
20.14% "And in the only-sharp satire corner, Wharton! On Americans looking for a British residence: 'They had proceeded to enumberate... their various doubts and demands, refusing to believe that the house their friend recommended was really Tudor till they learned it had no heating system, or that the village church was literally in the grounds till she assured them of the deplorable uncertainty of the water supply."
October 20, 2011 – Finished Reading
August 19, 2015 – Shelved as: reviewed

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