I first read this many years ago and a reading group chose it so … it was time for a reread. Besides, I’ve discovered Librivox for some audio classics while the Kindle version was only .99, so …
This book is really a novella. It’s also entirely different from the rest of Wharton’s novels. The reason is that although it was the 3rd of Wharton’s books to be published, she started working on it when she was in France in about 1900 but didn’t get published until after “House of Mirth” (1911). This may be one reason it’s so very different. I imagine that a reader in 1912 going from House of Mirth to Ethan Frome had quite a shock.
by Edith Wharton
1911 / 114 pages
read by Librivox
rating: 9 / classic Americana
(read and listened)
The story is basically that of a very poor farmer and his wife who have to take in a girl, Mattie, after her parents die and no one can keep her – she’s now impoverished.
There’s a huge character study to it but not much in the way of actual plot. The wife is a real b-word and the husband is not only hen-pecked (emotional abuse of the times) but intimidated. So here comes Mattie – sweet and beautiful and very, very needy. The two are attracted to each other and I won’t go further except to say that it’s tragic.
I remembered the ending in general but not the specifics so it was a good read for me.