Wednesday, 1 March 2017

Ethan Frome by Edith Wharton

"He did not know  why he was so irrationally happy, for nothing was changed in his life or hers."

This is a slim, but powerful volume. I imagine that, had I read it as a younger person, I would not have enjoyed it nearly as much. Perhaps what struck me was the sense of futility of middle age, of being trapped in an unpleasant, unrewarding situation and being tempted by the promise of an alternative.
There is a sense of the inevitable that lends the air of gothic horror to the New England farm. Every woman fears the sense that, as she ages, she becomes invisible and in some ways Zeena is the very personification of this. Her cousin, Mattie, is her potential sparkly new replacement. **Spoilers**, no-one gets their happy ending here. Zeena and Ethan trapped in a loveless marriage, Matty caught between love and destitution; and no-one profiting from the tragic events that ultimately bind them all together.
Certainly my review might give you the impression that the novel is hard going and it was not a quick or easy read, despite its size.  That being said, it was beautifully and poignantly rendered. I was particularly surprised that a broken pie dish and a sled ride could move me so much. I'd be interested to hear your opinions.

 5 out of 5 times love is fleeting and we all become our worst relatives.

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