Sunday 6 January 2019

Book Review: Ethan Frome by Edith Wharton

Title: Ethan Frome
Author: Edith Wharton
Wordsworth Classics

Publication Date: 2000 (1911)
Bought Copy

With this intensely moving short novel, Edith Wharton set out ‘to draw life as it really was’ in the lonely villages and desolate farms of the harsh New England mountains. Through the eyes of a visitor from the city, trapped for a winter in snowbound Starkfield, readers glimpse the hidden histories of this austere and beautiful land. Piecing together the story of monosyllabic Ethan Frome, his grim wife, Zeena, and Mattie Silver, her charming cousin, Wharton explores psychological dead-lock: frustration, longing, resentment, passion.

I liked Ethan Frome. Is it melodramatic and bleak? Yes. However, it is also a beautifully crafted piece of prose that demonstrates that less is often more. Though a bare 100 pages, the story offers well-rounded, memorable characters and an evocative depiction of winter in a small, isolated village. I kept turning the pages, keen to see what would happen, and finished the book in a single sitting. This is 4.5 for me, rounded up to 5.

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