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2010/11 Group Reads - Archives > Ethan Frome - Part One - Introduction & Chapters 1-4

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message 1: by Lily (new)

Lily (joy1) | 2632 comments I presume "The Ring and the Book" to which Edith Wharton refers as providing inspiration for her narrative style is this one:

"'The Ring and the Book' is a long dramatic narrative poem, and, more specifically, a verse novel, of 21,000 lines, written by Robert Browning. It was published in four installments from 1868 to 1869 in Cornhill Magazine.

"The book tells the story of a murder trial in Rome in 1698, whereby an impoverished nobleman, Count Guido Franceschini, is found guilty of the murders of his young wife Pompilia Comparini and her parents, having suspected his wife was having an affair with a young cleric, Giuseppe Caponsacchi. Having been found guilty despite his protests and sentenced to death, Franceschini then appeals—unsuccessfully—to Pope Innocent XII to overturn the conviction. The poem comprises twelve books, nine of which are dramatic monologues spoken by a different narrator involved in the case (Count Guido speaks twice), usually giving a different account of the same events, and two books (the first and the last) spoken by the author."

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Ring...


message 2: by Everyman (last edited Feb 17, 2011 05:13PM) (new)

Everyman | 3582 comments MadgeUK wrote: "I guess the Author's Note is the best thing to read first."

Oh, did Chris decide that we're officially abandoning The Count, which was scheduled to run through February 28, and start Ethan Frome now? I hadn't planned on that discussion starting until March 1st, so scheduled out other reading for the rest of February. So if Chris has decided that we're starting it now, I won't be able to participate.


message 3: by Adelle (new)

Adelle Ah, so there is no omniscient narrator ... and those telling the tale haven't even been sworn to tell the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth.

I always get sucked into the story. I always forget to question the veracity of whomever is speaking.

I'll try to remember during Ethan Frome.


message 4: by Adelle (last edited Feb 17, 2011 06:10PM) (new)

Adelle Everyman wrote: "MadgeUK wrote: "I guess the Author's Note is the best thing to read first."

Oh, did Chris decide that we're officially abandoning The Count, which was scheduled to run through February 28, and sta..."


I just finished reading the author's note. As we are but a small, small group--though intense--if Christopher should decide to start the discussion on the 28th, why, I would read and write up thoughts and mull and such and not start posting until the official discussion begins.

What the heck? "Lean forward." THAT would be my choice. My preference would be to wait to begin the discussion until Everman could join us. A discussion with Everyman is a better discussion.

(Also, I was planning to read 15 Minutes: Nuclear Annihilation during the the down time.)

15 Minutes General Curtis LeMay and the Countdown to Nuclear Annihilation by L. Douglas Keeney 15 Minutes: General Curtis LeMay and the Countdown to Nuclear Annihilation


message 5: by Adelle (new)

Adelle MadgeUK wrote: "Everyman wrote:Oh, did Chris decide that we're officially abandoning The Count, which was scheduled to run through February 28, and sta..."

The Count has been abandoned, official or not. Chris did..."


I like your alternative suggestion, Madge: That we post/discuss...mmm...what else did you say? ... oh, contribute background information. Anyway, that's my two cents.


Captain Sir Roddy, R.N. (Ret.) (captain_sir_roddy) | 1483 comments Mod
I assumed that the reading of "Ethan Frome" would start upon the conclusion of the reading and discussion of "The Count of Monte Cristo" too, i.e., near the end of February.

I had intended to set up a new folder announcing the upcoming read, set up the book on the group home page too. I will set all of this up now, but hope that we can actually start the read on February 28th.


message 7: by Adelle (new)

Adelle In the meantime, Madge, I'll search out Edith Wharton info. Just so we can stay in practice writing back-and-forth until the book discussion itself begins, yes?


Captain Sir Roddy, R.N. (Ret.) (captain_sir_roddy) | 1483 comments Mod
Adelle wrote: "In the meantime, Madge, I'll search out Edith Wharton info. Just so we can stay in practice writing back-and-forth until the book discussion itself begins, yes?"

Terrific! I've got some stuff on Edith Wharton too. I found a great book of her letters, etc. last fall in a wonderful used bookstore in Nebraska (while on a visit) and I want to browse through it too. Cheers! Chris


message 9: by Everyman (new)

Everyman | 3582 comments MadgeUK wrote: "Chris didn't decide to start EF because he isn't here ..."

He indeed is still here, and he is still the moderator of this group. Those who disapprove of his style of moderation are, of course, totally free to start their own Goodreads groups and moderate them in whatever way they want to. That seems a better response to disapproval of a moderator's behavior than assuming the right to substitute one's own preferences for the decisions of the moderator.


Captain Sir Roddy, R.N. (Ret.) (captain_sir_roddy) | 1483 comments Mod
I am not quite sure that the reading and/or discussion of TCMC has been abandoned either. I think people are still reading and may continue to add comments between now and the 28th. I would rather err on the side of waiting a few more days to ensure that an individual's experience with the book they are reading is interrupted.

Now, having said all of this, there is no reason why those interested can't go ahead and get started reading "Ethan Frome" and collecting and compiling information to share with the group in the 'Background Information and Resources' folder. But I respectfully ask they we all hold off on actually kicking off the discussion of 'Part One' (Introduction & Chapters 1-4) until February 28th. I thank you very much for your cooperation.

I am looking forward to reading and discussing this book with all of you. I have read it several times, and am always somewhat overwhelmed by its bleakness and dark mood, and I would like to explore this with you. Cheers! Chris


message 11: by Adelle (last edited Feb 18, 2011 10:57AM) (new)

Adelle Please, please, please, please, please.

(You know what I'm saying.)

Please, please, please, please, please.

I am on bended knee.
It's difficult to type on bended knee.
My knees aren't what they used to be.

I would SO like to discuss Ethan Frome. I know. I know. That makes it read as though I think it's all about me. There are but seven hardy souls [Edit: my mistake. Thirteen hardy souls.] even willing to pull themselves up for the discussion.

To quote from Monty Python, let's not bicker and argue over who killed who.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lxFrXu...


Captain Sir Roddy, R.N. (Ret.) (captain_sir_roddy) | 1483 comments Mod
Adelle wrote: "Please, please, please, please, please.

(You know what I'm saying.)

Please, please, please, please, please.

I am on bended knee.
It's difficult to type on bended knee.
My knees aren't..."


No worries, Adelle, we are all looking forward to discussing "Ethan Frome" with you! While it is certainly not my favorite Wharton novel, I think it is a very important piece of work from her oeuvre. I, for one, would really like to figure out why I feel as I do about the novel, and what Wharton's motivations were for writing the novel.

Anyway, in ten-days we are all going to be able to pitch in and see what we can discover. I very much look forward to hearing from you what you love so much about this book and Wharton the author!


message 13: by Adelle (new)

Adelle Thanks, Christopher. I hope I don't have to go back and edit yet again to read "we are but two hardy souls"


Captain Sir Roddy, R.N. (Ret.) (captain_sir_roddy) | 1483 comments Mod
Adelle wrote: "Thanks, Christopher. I hope I don't have to go back and edit yet again to read "we are but two hardy souls""

LOL! No, I don't think that you shall have to do that. ;-) Say, speaking of "Hardy"...Hmmm, I am actually feeling an urge to read some Thomas Hardy in the quasi-near future. Amazing the similarities I have noticed between Edith Wharton and Thomas Hardy (no wonder I love 'em both so much!).

Adelle, I am not sure (off the top of my head) where you live, but if you ever have the chance to visit the Berkshire Mountains in western Massachusetts, I highly recommend stopping and spending the day in Lenox, MA, and visiting Edith Wharton's beautiful home "The Mount." It is simply spectacular. I actually will relish those memories of my day there for the rest of my life! I had lunch with my oldest daughter out on the balcony overlooking the beautiful grounds and gardens that Edith Wharton designed herself. Just an amazing vista!


message 15: by Adelle (new)

Adelle No, I'm in Colorado and have never been to New England. Made it to Washington, DC, once.

I saw the photo of Edith Wharton's home through one of the links Madge had provided. It looked spectacular, if I might borrow your word choice.

Oh, yes, Hardy is a bit dark, too, isn't he?


message 16: by MadgeUK (last edited Feb 19, 2011 04:58AM) (new)

MadgeUK | 5214 comments Everyman wrote: "MadgeUK wrote: "Chris didn't decide to start EF because he isn't here ..."
He indeed is still here, and he is still the moderator of this group. Those who disapprove of his style of moderation ar..."


I was NOT 'disapproving' of Christopher's moderation! I genuinely thought he had gone away again (or was still ill) and I was responding, as a club member, to calls to start Ethan Frome early because The Count, like TBK, had fallen by the wayside (last contribution Jan 30). I was merely trying to stir the RR pot, which seemed to have gone off the boil, judging by the lack of posts. I do not care one way or another and have no 'preferences' in the matter.

Sorry Chris, if I have stepped on your toes - I am VERY pleased to see you back.


Captain Sir Roddy, R.N. (Ret.) (captain_sir_roddy) | 1483 comments Mod
MadgeUK wrote: "Everyman wrote: "MadgeUK wrote: "Chris didn't decide to start EF because he isn't here ..."
He indeed is still here, and he is still the moderator of this group. Those who disapprove of his style ..."


It is all good, Madge! I appreciate the 'gentle' prod as it has re-energized and re-focused me to climbing back in the saddle with my moderating roles and responsibilities here at the "Readers Review." No apologies are necessary whatsoever! Thank you for caring enough about the group to want to keep it moving forward in a positive framework! Cheers! Chris


message 18: by Jan (new)

Jan (auntyjan) | 483 comments I only drop out of discussions because I can't keep up with the pace. In this case I haven't even managed to get hold of a copy yet, let alone start reading it. I did find a copy of The Count of Monte Cristo, but didn't buy it as I was daunted by the size and knew I wouldn't be able to get through it fast enough to keep up. When I see posts put up about the next book, I wonder whether it's even worth persisting. What are we doing after Ethan Frome? I need a head start.


message 19: by MadgeUK (new)

MadgeUK | 5214 comments There are several online copies Jan - here is a searchable one. It is only a short novel of 9 chapters:-

http://www.online-literature.com/whar...


message 20: by Jaime (new)

Jaime (janastasiow) MadgeUK wrote: "There are several online copies Jan - here is a searchable one. It is only a short novel of 9 chapters:-

http://www.online-literature.com/whar..."


Ethan Frome isn't the issue, it's what we're reading after/with it like Jude or Jane Eyre, etc.


Captain Sir Roddy, R.N. (Ret.) (captain_sir_roddy) | 1483 comments Mod
Jan, I think you'd enjoy "Ethan Frome" too. It is a relatively short read. Jaime, is right though, it is the next book that will require more time to read and discuss. Never fear though, we shall ensure that a very reasonable schedule for reading the book is agreed upon by all.


message 22: by Everyman (new)

Everyman | 3582 comments Christopher wrote: "Jan, I think you'd enjoy "Ethan Frome" too. It is a relatively short read. Jaime, is right though, it is the next book that will require more time to read and discuss. Never fear though, we shal..."

You might want to consider inserting a brief break between books -- sometimes it's hard to move straight from one book to the next, often I feel pressured to finish the first book early and start the next so I'm not behind when that discussion starts, but then I tend to stint the last week or two of the previous book while I'm started on the next one.

With the co-emphasis on poetry here, maybe a one-week break between books with an poem or two put up for discussion would help things out?


Captain Sir Roddy, R.N. (Ret.) (captain_sir_roddy) | 1483 comments Mod
Everyman wrote: "Christopher wrote: "Jan, I think you'd enjoy "Ethan Frome" too. It is a relatively short read. Jaime, is right though, it is the next book that will require more time to read and discuss. Never ..."

Great idea, Everyman! I think we can do something along those lines for sure!


message 24: by Jan (new)

Jan (auntyjan) | 483 comments Thanks Madge, just read the first paragraph. Not quite the same as a real book, but much better than nothing.


message 25: by Lily (new)

Lily (joy1) | 2632 comments My copy arrived today. Read the front material and part of the first chapter. This edition also has several short stories. Ethan Frome seems to be only about 100 pages.


message 26: by Loretta (new)

Loretta (lorettalucia) My copy is packaged with "Summer." I was actually wondering if anyone else got the same edition, as I'll feel odd about leaving the book only half finished. LOL. But I suppose I'll just read it on my own.


Captain Sir Roddy, R.N. (Ret.) (captain_sir_roddy) | 1483 comments Mod
Loretta wrote: "My copy is packaged with "Summer." I was actually wondering if anyone else got the same edition, as I'll feel odd about leaving the book only half finished. LOL. But I suppose I'll just read it on ..."

"Summer" is a very good book too, Loretta. I highly recommend reading it--well, I highly recommend reading anything written by Edith Wharton. It is my personal opinion that she is safely ensconced in the pantheon of great American authors.


message 28: by Loretta (new)

Loretta (lorettalucia) Yes, I'm sure I will, I was just hoping to guilt one of you folks into reading it with me. ;-)


message 29: by Jaime (new)

Jaime (janastasiow) I still think The Awakening and Summer are perfect compliments to EF. I actually suggested we read all three as opposed to adding a second large book. But no one said anything, so I just figured no one wanted to do it. I've read all three so I can re-read and discuss either of the others if anyone wants to. I think the compare/contrast would be interesting.


message 30: by Loretta (last edited Feb 26, 2011 07:16AM) (new)

Loretta (lorettalucia) I didn't notice that post, but in any case, I'm planning on reading Summer right after Ethan Frome. Chris, would you mind if we opened up a thread to discuss it? It doesn't necessarily have to delay the discussion of whichever book wins our poll.


Captain Sir Roddy, R.N. (Ret.) (captain_sir_roddy) | 1483 comments Mod
I would be delighted to open a thread for discussion of "Summer". How about we wait until we have finished "Ethan Frome" (or, during the last week of the discussion), just to keep the focus on the selected read. I will likely join in the discussion of "Summer" too, or at least closely monitor it, as I've read it several times. It is pretty darned thought-provoking too.


message 32: by Loretta (last edited Feb 26, 2011 08:41AM) (new)

Loretta (lorettalucia) Yes, that's what I was imagining as well--open it up right after we've finished Ethan Frome.

Thanks Chris!


message 33: by Bill (last edited Feb 27, 2011 02:30PM) (new)

Bill (BIll_B) | 605 comments So, from the title of this thread/topic, am I to assume that, from the time the thread was created, anything in the first 4 chapters of this book could be mentioned without fear of spoiling?
Or
Does it mean as of the 28th of February, spoilers in the first 4 chapters are ok?

(I'm new to the whole book club experience).


message 34: by Jaime (new)

Jaime (janastasiow) Bill wrote: "So, from the title of this thread/topic, am I to assume that, from the time the thread was created, anything in the first 4 chapters of this book could be mentioned without fear of spoiling?
Or..."


Starting February 28...


message 35: by Adelle (new)

Adelle And it looks as though the group will have a fair number of engaged readers!


Captain Sir Roddy, R.N. (Ret.) (captain_sir_roddy) | 1483 comments Mod
Is everybody ready and raring to go with "Ethan Frome" tomorrow? This should be fun!


message 37: by Bill (new)

Bill (BIll_B) | 605 comments Hey Christopher, I was thinking we should put this off another week or two. What do you think?


message 38: by Sasha (new)

Sasha I'm ready!!


message 39: by Bill (last edited Feb 27, 2011 04:24PM) (new)

Bill (BIll_B) | 605 comments Sasha wrote: "I'm ready!!"

Just kidding!
(Sorry for the crappy tease.)

I'm ready too!


message 40: by Sasha (new)

Sasha Hahahah


message 41: by Jaime (new)

Jaime (janastasiow) Bill wrote: "Hey Christopher, I was thinking we should put this off another week or two. What do you think?"

Lol!


Captain Sir Roddy, R.N. (Ret.) (captain_sir_roddy) | 1483 comments Mod
...and I just completed my reading assignment--the introduction/preface, and the first four chapters. Oh, how I do so remember this story now. Lots to talk about in this first part!


message 43: by Bill (new)

Bill (BIll_B) | 605 comments Christopher wrote: "...and I just completed my reading assignment--the introduction/preface, and the first four chapters. Oh, how I do so remember this story now. Lots to talk about in this first part!"

It must be difficult to talk about the first 4 chapters of a book you've read without leaking a little of something from later chapters. Especially when you have people like me speculating where the story's headed.

I've only read the first 2 chapters (going to read 3 and 4 tonight) and I've already some ideas of what the author is up to.


message 44: by Captain Sir Roddy, R.N. (Ret.), Founder (last edited Feb 27, 2011 08:50PM) (new)

Captain Sir Roddy, R.N. (Ret.) (captain_sir_roddy) | 1483 comments Mod
Bill wrote: "Christopher wrote: "...and I just completed my reading assignment--the introduction/preface, and the first four chapters. Oh, how I do so remember this story now. Lots to talk about in this first..."

Bill, it is not difficult at all for me to discuss books that I've read numerous times before. I am pretty darned disciplined at not letting spoilers fly in my discussions. Furthermore, I re-read my books all of the time, and am continually amazed at how much more I able to discover and appreciate with each subsequent reading. Personally, I think group reads and discussions are really one of the very best ways of truly digging into an author and their written work.

Edith Wharton is one of my very favorite American authors, and I very much enjoy spending time re-reading her novels, novellas, and her fabulous short stories. She's a very special writer in my book!


message 45: by Jaime (new)

Jaime (janastasiow) Christopher wrote: "Bill wrote: "Christopher wrote: "...and I just completed my reading assignment--the introduction/preface, and the first four chapters. Oh, how I do so remember this story now. Lots to talk about ..."

I agree with everything you just said!!!!


message 46: by MadgeUK (last edited Feb 28, 2011 12:18PM) (new)

MadgeUK | 5214 comments The first chapter is so full of foreshadowing as to be almost melodramatic! In particular I noted the early mention of 'a girl who had already wound a cherry-coloured "fascinator"* about her head' which is likely to be significant, especially as it contrasts so starkly with the purity of the snowy white landscape, the 'white house fronts' and the 'snow white church'. Mattie also threads a red ribbon through her hair and her lips too are the colour of cherry. 'Frome's heart was beating fast. He had been straining for a glimpse of the dark head under the cherry-coloured scarf and it vexed him that another eye should have been quicker than his', so there is a hint of jealousy of a rival, even though we learn he is a married man. Although Ethan feels that, 'The coming to his house of hopeful young life was like the lighting of a fire on a cold hearth", and later he is 'still in the rosy haze of his hour with Mattie', the significance of the scarf flying off her head as he watched her at the dance is likely to be a foreshadowing both of the passion to come and the hell which may follow because as well as being the symbol of blood and life, red is also the colour of sin, passion and adultery (cf Nathanial Hawthorne The Scarlet Letter), and of the fire of hell.

http://nancyfriedman.typepad.com/away...

The mention of the elm tree in the second chapter may be an allusion to the Liberty Tree* planted in Boston just prior to the American Revolution, perhaps signifying that Ethan sought to be free of his wife but in pagan times, because they were tall trees, they also signified the wisdom of looking ahead. Additionally, Ethan is described as being tall, blue eyed and blonde and I wondered if Wharton was suggesting that people in New England were of German or Danish extraction because in that culture elm trees were once dedicated to the gods and sacrifices were hung on their branches (including humans) in an effort to forecast the coming season. In Nordic mythology the first woman was made from an elm tree so the elm may also symbolise Mattie.

http://www.libertytreefdr.org/origina...


message 47: by Adelle (new)

Adelle I was surprised by how different my reaction to the book was on this, my 2nd reading. I will post on that aspect when we have finished the book---when we're doing the wrap-up.


message 48: by Adelle (new)

Adelle MadgeUK wrote: "The first chapter is so full of foreshadowing as to be almost melodramatic! In particular I noted the early mention of 'a girl who had already wound a cherry-coloured "fascinator"* about her head..."

Excellent stuff, Madge. (1) I loved the word itself, "fascinator." I don't know how much the word was in common usage when Wharton wrote, but reading EF now it is such a word as really jump out from the page and grap one's attention. So obviously Mattie is going to play a major role in this book.

(2) I loved, too, how well you brought to our attention how Wharton contrasts the color, energy, warmth of Mattie to the rest of the setting. Well done.


message 49: by Adelle (new)

Adelle Great opening, I thought: "I had the story, bit by bit, from various people, and, as generally happens in such cases, each time it was a different story."

It seems to the reader, (me), that this isn't just some novel. This is a real story. (Yeah, I know, that's what novels do, but Wharton hooked me into believing right at the start by seemingly not writing introductory material. Yes, yes, yes: introductory material is EXACTLY what this is....but it doesn't seem like it. She had me at "Hello.")

The questions and concerns this one introductory sentence raises!

Who is "I"?

What story?

Bit by bit....so we know that it was a good enough story that whoever this "I" is was intriqued and made the effort of either searching the story out or engagingly listening to version after version. I want to learn this good story, too, is my thinking.

And that, "each time it was a different story." That should have served as a warning to me. Wharton has with her opening sentence told me that whatever the story is....it's not actually "true." All the tellers of the tale have given a different story. They are either unreliable narrators...or they have forgotten parts of what has happened....or they have mis-remembered....or, as likely as not, they have edited their versions of the story to suit their own interests.

And yet.....as I read the chapters, I believed. Wharton writes so convincingly that I could almost visualize the events unfolding before my eyes.


message 50: by Adelle (new)

Adelle MadgeUK wrote: "the Liberty tree..."

I liked that symbolic idea, too.


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