This brilliantly wrought, tragic novella explores the repressed emotions and destructive passions of working-class people far removed from the elevated social milieu usually inhabited by Wharton’s characters. Ethan Frome is a poor farmer, trapped in a marriage to a demanding and controlling wife, Zeena. When Zeena’s young cousin Mattie enters their household she opens a window of hope in Ethan’s bleak life, but his wife’s reaction prompts a desperate attempt to escape fate that goes horribly wrong. Ethan Frome is an unforgettable story with the force of myth, featuring realistic and haunting characters as vivid as any Wharton ever conjured.
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The village lay under two feet of snow, with drifts at thewindy corners. In a sky of iron the points of the Dipper hung like icicles and Orion flashed his cold fires. The moon had set, but the night was sotransparent that the white house-fronts between the elms looked grey against the snow, clumps of...