Published by Penguin Classics on September 28th 2006
Genres: Classics, Adult fiction
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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 with her and with the possibilities for happiness she comes to represent.
In one of American fiction's finest and most intense narratives, Edith Wharton moves this ill-starred trio toward their tragic destinies. Different in both tone and theme from Wharton's other works, Ethan Frome has become perhaps her most enduring and most widely read novel.
Zeena: She seemed secretly evil. Who knows what she was thinking? Who knows what she noticed? Who knew when she was pretending? We hardly know anything about her, except she’s sick and complains a lot but other than that does not tend to make her opinions known. It’s hard to hate her because we know so little, but it’s near impossible to like her at all. She’s probably holding Ethan back.
Mattie: A nice, romantic sort of girl. Maybe a tad shy (I wished they would just get it into the open sooner!) but so was Ethan, around her.
I was a little unsure of the ending. It was neither happy or sad, but for me I was happy. All three ended up together and alive, which is more than they could ask for, but they weren’t entirely happy. Still, at least they were together. But I couldn’t help but wonder- would they have been better off if Mattie had married one of her suitors? She would probably have money, but she wouldn’t have Ethan. Would she have moved on? Would he have gotten out of his marriage funk with Zeena and become happy? I personally don’t think so, but it may have been better than them living out their days squabbling all the time.
Good vs. Bad
- writing style