1 March 2020 Susannah

Edith Wharton & ‘Ethan Frome’

Edith Wharton’s Ethan Frome was published in 1911, the year that she finally separated from her husband. Wharton understood all too clearly that the price of liberty can sometimes be a very high one, and that passion and death are near relations. One critic called the book “one of the most autobiographical novels ever written” because it reflected her sense of entrapment and loneliness.

The ending of this novella is one of the grimmest I’ve ever encountered. But it is a memorable book, and the fate of the characters and the decisions they make are things you ponder long after turning the last page. It’s probably not a book you can ‘enjoy’, but it is very powerful.

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Featured image credit- Edith Wharton, Ethan Frome. Liam Neeson in Ethan Frome (1993), https://www.imdb.com/title/tt0106833/

Comments (2)

  1. Keryne Rosato

    Oh my goodness! You nearly lost me with this one. It was so stark and bleak I felt I was reading with one eye closed and squinting with the other. I almost couldn’t look at the train wreck that is this book. But I kept thinking “No, Susannah must think there’s something in this so I’ll keep reading”. When I read your comment “This is not a book you’ll probably enjoy” I felt vindicated! I certainly didn’t enjoy it but I’m glad I read it (I think). Your notes really helped me to make sense of it, so thank you.


    • Susannah Fullerton

      When I planned to include this book I, of course, had no idea that people would be reading it in this especially stressful time. It is not the right book for a time of self-isolation and anxiety.
      I did love your description of it as a ‘train wreck’ – very apt, and yet it is a powerful book and one I think people ought to read. Sorry if you have been traumatised and p/ease move on to something more cheerful very soon.

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