On a poor farm near Starkfield in western Massachusetts, Ethan Frome struggles to wrest a living from the land, unassisted by his whining and hypochondriacal wife Zeena. When Zeena’s young cousin Mattie Silver is left destitute, the only place she can go is Ethan’s farm.
With an Introduction by Dr Pamela Knights, Department of English Studies, Durham University.
With this intensely moving short novel, Edith Wharton set out ‘to draw life as it really was’ in the lonely villages and desolate farms of the harsh New England mountains. Through the eyes of a visitor from the city, trapped for a winter in snowbound Starkfield, readers glimpse the hidden histories of this austere and beautiful land. Piecing together the story of monosyllabic Ethan Frome, his grim wife, Zeena, and Mattie Silver, her charming cousin, Wharton explores psychological dead-lock:frustration, longing, resentment, passion.
First published in 1911, the novella stunned its public with its consummate handling of the unfolding drama, and has remained for many readers the most compelling and subtle of all Wharton’s fiction.