Book review – Ethan Frome by Edith Wharton

For my birthday late last year, No (my SO or OH or BH or however one calls their partner on blogs these days) aimed high and hit the nail on the head with the gift of a 12-month book subscription from the amazing The Willoughby Book Club. This means that during the first week of every month during the next year I will receive a book, hand-picked and tailored to my tastes by the book club experts.

This month I received my first parcel (yes, they deliver overseas, an important detail when following UK trends but living in Switzerland), with a lovely message from my SOBH, all wrapped up in purple paper like they knew me already. In it was “Ethan Frome & Other Stories” by Edith Wharton (Arcutrus, 2011). 20160122_160712

Bear in mind this is a short story, which explains the length of my review – come back next month for the review of the next book (which may or may not be any longer, we shall see!).


In the bleak winter setting of aptly-named Starkfield, a tragedy has unfolded behind closed doors. The narrator relays a story he has pieced together from asking around the village. Ethan Frome, a reserved and broken-looking fifty-something piques the reader’s curiosity and his story is is as dramatic as it is short. He was dealt a hard hand in life from the time of his parents’ decline in health. His unhappy marriage to a taciturn yet provocative woman limits his  youthful aspirations to happiness, learning and change. This is where young Mattie Silver comes in.


I love the setting! Reading this in January, in the midst of post-festivity blues and in my cosy reading nook, I found the perfect place to escape to – Starkfield. The forbidden love storyline is one that always appeals to me and this is no different. Though nothing is explicit, the tension created is poignant. You almost wish this was a full-blown novel instead of a short story, but I think the length of the text mirrors the narrative – short and bleak.

Who’s it for?

Lovers of stories of heartbreak – I would say this provides lovers of Jane Eyre or Wuthering Heights with a booster shot of  hopelessness. Yeah. Sorry. But some of us love it…


This is as much as I’ll say about this book. I don’t think it would benefit from an in-depth character analysis or anything of the sort. Sometimes you just read to feel things from the words, without reading in between the lines. This is a perfect example of such a story.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s