"Ethan Frome" by Edith Wharton

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"Ethan Frome" by Edith Wharton
In a stark New England winter, where the elements enforce solitude and solitude begets depression, one person’s crushed hopes like a domino topple into the next person’s, obliterating them in turn. In Edith Wharton’s classic Ethan Frome, this plot has the advantage of a master’s uncluttered, unerring telling, and American culture is richer for it. If you haven’t taken up this masterpiece, don’t delay any longer.

In this straightforward telling, emotions and hopes shine forth, in high relief. Ethan starts out as a minor figure in a narrative that frames the story, and when we meet him (in his fifties), he’s contorted - physically bent out of shape - from an accident that occurred thirty years prior. The accident was not only physical, but it was also an error of impossible hope, a time when he grabbed a little too greedily for fulfillment.

The bleak and isolating winters of 19th Century New England form the perfect backdrop for this grim tale. The telling is plain and masterful. This famous novella deserves its acknowledged place in the American canon. Anything more on my part would delay you from it needlessly.