Ethan Frome Ethan Frome discussion


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message 1: by Harry (last edited Feb 27, 2010 09:50PM) (new) - rated it 2 stars

Harry Some while ago; as far as remember ,about 6 months a friend of mine gave me a copy of this tome. Her son had to read it as an assignment in high school. He had finished with it and the paper back ended up as excess cargo in her vehicle; so, she unloaded it on me. I put it on my bookshelf and somewhat forgot about it. A couple of nights ago I was rearranging my book shelves for some new additions, when I had to move this book. I set it aside and before I went to bed that night I started reading it; and as with most of the books I start I proceeded to read it over the next couple of days. This is a very depressing read; albiet, well written.


message 2: by Ben (new) - rated it 4 stars

Ben I just finished this book and was very impressed. I enjoyed the twist ending.
Much like Romeo and Juliet, there are always condequences to forbidden love!


message 3: by [deleted user] (new)

Wonderful book. Yes depressing but so well written and the characters grab you and do not let you go. Thanks for discussing it.


Simon This was the the SINGLE WORST book that that American Public education system made me read.

I directly blame this particular book with convincing thousands of high school students each year that reading is a dreary activity you take on without joy and finish only because you're forced to.

Just a horrible book.


Maria Ben wrote: "I just finished this book and was very impressed. I enjoyed the twist ending.
Much like Romeo and Juliet, there are always condequences to forbidden love!"


Yeah and then you think back to how the book started... the author noticed a man , he was really worn down and alas it is the end . It is such a good way of telling a story!


Erika Nerdypants I read this many years ago, and loved the writing, and the suprise ending. It reminded me a little of Katherine Mansfield's short story, "A Roman Holiday". IMHO, only very few writers can pull off such a well executed twist. Loved it!


Hannah Not my favorite book ever, but as far as school requirements go, it was really good. It was really well written, even though the actual basic idea wasn't too great.


Morgan I really enjoyed this book, again compared to other books I was forced to read it was one of the better ones. As the story went on I grew to hate Ethan for what he was doing. I didnt like how society allow a man to have an emotional affair but a woman could not. In then end I loved how by loving Maddie to escape his wife, Maddie became just like her.


Gretchen Morgan wrote: "I really enjoyed this book, again compared to other books I was forced to read it was one of the better ones. As the story went on I grew to hate Ethan for what he was doing. I didnt like how socie..."

I agree with everything you said. It was one of those short stories we were forced to read that I actually purchased later in life. A great analogy of what is really love and how passion and romance falter in spite of our best intentions.


Geoffrey his was the the SINGLE WORST book that that American Public education system made me read.

I directly blame this particular book with convincing thousands of high school students each year that reading is a dreary activity you take on without joy and finish only because you're forced to.

Just a horrible book. SIMON

Well, so you don`t read books anymore because you were forced to read such a terrible book?


Lobstergirl A 5-star read. Beautifully written.


Dave/Maggie Bean I enjoyed it. It's not the first tragedy featuring characters who -- constrained by social mores -- violate them to their eventual sorrow, mind you. In that respect, it's not even particularly original -- for all that it was considered "subversive" in its time.

Its distinguishing feature (and the feature that drew the most ire and fire when it was published) was Wharton's refusal to treat the tale as a neo-Puritan morality play. Far from it: The tragic, bitter irony in the final chapter is the sole element that removes it from the realm of pure naturalism. In this respect, the "shit happens" conclusion of _E.F._ is a slap in the faces of "pure" naturalism; the moralistic, Northeastern literary tradition; and its putative "antithesis," the libertine Romanticism of 19th century.

What's not to like?

Given Wharton's circumstances when she composed _E.F_, I consider it a work of remarkable candor -- and remarkable self-discipline. I was also impressed by the fact that she stopped just shy of the utter (and utterly insincere) narcissism/nihilism that "crop dusted" the lion's share of 20th and 21st c. lit.

Better still, Wharton (while contending with her own demons via the medium of fiction) spared her readers the Blair-esque "pea soup" vomitus that so befouls modern writing.

"Shit happens," "Get over it," "Life sucks and then you die," "You ain't special," and "The big, bad world doesn't owe you a fuckin' thing" (all popular expressions during the 1980s and '90s) might have had their genesis in _Ethan Frome_.

But they didn't.

Rather, Wharton tapped ancient, inescapable facts of existence: We are not gods. Life doesn't always meet our expectations. And whether it does or doesn't; disentangling the threads of virtue/credit, vice/blame, and the amoral force of sheer chance is a Herculean task.

Melodramatic? Perhaps -- but infinitesimally so when compared to even the tamest and lamest of video-games, "text-message heart-renders," and most of the shite on the boob tube these days.

Let's agree to disagree.


Dave/Maggie Bean Hannah wrote: "Not my favorite book ever, but as far as school requirements go, it was really good. It was really well written, even though the actual basic idea wasn't too great."

Astute observation. No, the basic idea wasn't top-notch -- by 19th, 20th, or 21st c. standards.

This is to say that Wharton (and her critics thus far) were equally blind to *context*.

I'll say no more.


Samantha "was the the SINGLE WORST book that that American Public education system made me read.

I directly blame this particular book with convincing thousands of high school students each year that reading is a dreary activity "

I adore Ethan Frome, but this still made me laugh out loud.


message 15: by Karen (new) - rated it 1 star

Karen Cook this was the worst book I ever read. Want a great book? Try "A Separate Peace" Awesome book


Chere Still one of my favorites... I love an ending that doesn't cheese out! Seriously, I know books are an escape, but do most people NEED to have it always end happily? I must be a pessimist who is happily surprised when things actually turn out positively...


message 17: by Matt (last edited May 14, 2012 06:44AM) (new) - rated it 3 stars

Matt i liked it when the Dragons tipped over their sled and sent them careening into that tree in the end because they broke that ancient pickle dish which held the secrets to the dragon race. that kitty was a terrible guardian in disguise. I knew he was really a dragon the whole time. btw -- i'm kidding. book was 3.5/5. Read it when I was 25. would have hated it when i was 16.


Bonnie Lynn Either this wasn't required reading for me or, having found it bleak, boring and stupid (as I most likely would have at that time) simply blocked it from memory. Having recently read Ethan Frome 'just because', I did find it bleak - and thoroughly enjoyed this wonderful little book.


message 19: by Cole (new) - rated it 3 stars

Cole Clarke Perhaps I'm a bit biased, as I had to read this for my English class, like so many others, but I did not enjoy this book very much. I thought its basic premise, that people in certain social conditions can never achieve happiness, was a bit interesting, if not much original. But the novel itself was not very well written. My main complaint is that it comes off as very whiny and melodramatic. We read, for page after page, about a man who constantly feels sorry for himself because he has to take care of his (rather unpleasant) wife, and because he is in love with her own cousin. Yet, every time he has a chance to act upon this, he wimps out, for lack of a better phrase. Then, at the end of it, he lets himself be persuaded into attempting suicide, only to make things a hundred times worse than if he had not. I just found it hard to feel sorry for the characters, which I don't believe I'm too outrageous in saying was the purpose of the book.


message 20: by VJ (new) - rated it 5 stars

VJ Dave/Maggie wrote: "I enjoyed it. It's not the first tragedy featuring characters who -- constrained by social mores -- violate them to their eventual sorrow, mind you. In that respect, it's not even particularly orig..."

Preach!


message 21: by VJ (new) - rated it 5 stars

VJ Wharton wrote this story as a writing exercise. I read it through, then reread the beginning. The characters, so much like the bleak, hard scrabble landscape, captured my imagination and I couldn't put the story down until I finished it. Even though I do not like the copy I have currently, I will not donate it until I have one to replace it. It bears repeated readings for style and content. Makes one think.


message 22: by Amina (new) - rated it 1 star

Amina Ethan's such an idiot that he doesn't even realise that he is the common factor of Zeena's and Mattie's downfall.   You know from Ruth's comments in the end that Ethan resents Mattie now just as much as he did Zeena.   I love (sarcasm) how he is supposed to be so responsible (I should feed the horse) yet he takes no responsibility for his decisions.  He just blames and blames and blames.   (Not saying that Mattie is any better, I hate her too.)


message 23: by VJ (new) - rated it 5 stars

VJ Amina wrote: "Ethan's such an idiot that he doesn't even realise that he is the common factor of Zeena's and Mattie's downfall.   You know from Ruth's comments in the end that Ethan resents Mattie now just as mu..."

Interesting interpretation! I felt that Ethan was ashamed before both these women and was doing his duty, worn down by it. I will look for your perspective on my next read.


message 24: by Cpn (new) - rated it 1 star

Cpn In my opinion, I thought the book was terrible. It is definitely meant for women who like forbidden love stories.


J.E.S Ben wrote: "I just finished this book and was very impressed. I enjoyed the twist ending.
Much like Romeo and Juliet, there are always condequences to forbidden love!"


I love that idea of Romeo and Juliet that you brought up, except that he has to actually live with his consequences rather than just dying as Romeo did.


message 26: by Mario (new)

Mario I agree the ending is very surprising and shocking. I am not the fan of these love stories though.


message 27: by Amina (new) - rated it 1 star

Amina J.E.S wrote: "Ben wrote: "I just finished this book and was very impressed. I enjoyed the twist ending.
Much like Romeo and Juliet, there are always condequences to forbidden love!"

I love that idea of Romeo a..."


This isn't forbidden love, its not even true love.  Its stupid love.  There was  at least ten things they could have done besides what they did if they only took a moment to think.  Poor Zeena is all I have to say.


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