(Book Jacket Status: Jacketed)
These three brilliantly wrought, tragic novellas explore the repressed emotions and destructive passions of working-class people far removed from the social milieu usually inhabited by Edith Wharton's characters.
"Ethan Frome" is one of Wharton's most famous works; it is a tightly constructed and almost unbearably heartbreaking story of forbidden love in a snowbound New England village. "Summer, " also set in rural New England, is often considered a companion to "Ethan Frome"-Wharton herself called it "the hot Ethan"-in its portrayal of a young woman's sexual and social awakening. "Bunner Sisters" takes place in the narrow, dusty streets of late nineteenth-century New York City, where the constrained but peaceful lives of two spinster shopkeepers are shattered when they meet a man who becomes the unworthy focus of all their pent-up hopes.
All three of these novellas feature realistic and haunting characters as vivid as any Wharton ever conjured, and together they provide a superb introduction to the shorter fiction of one of our greatest writers.
About the Author
Edith Newbold Jones was born January 24, 1862, into such wealth and privilege that her family inspired the phrase "keeping up with the Joneses." The youngest of three children, Edith spent her early years touring Europe with her parents and, upon the family's return to the United States, enjoyed a privileged childhood in New York and Newport, Rhode Island. Edith's creativity and talent soon became obvious: By the age of eighteen she had written a novella, (as well as witty reviews of it) and published poetry in the Atlantic Monthly. After a failed engagement, Edith married a wealthy sportsman, Edward Wharton. Despite similar backgrounds and a shared taste for travel, the marriage was not a success. Many of Wharton's novels chronicle unhappy marriages, in which the demands of love and vocation often conflict with the expectations of society.
Upon the publication of The House of Mirth in 1905, Wharton became an instant celebrity, and the the book was an instant bestseller, with 80,000 copies ordered from Scribner's six weeks after its release. Ethan Frome appeared six years later, solidifying Wharton's reputation as an important novelist.
Often in the company of her close friend, Henry James, Wharton mingled with some of the most famous writers and artists of the day, including F. Scott Fitzgerald, Andre Gide, Sinclair Lewis, Jean Cocteau, and Jack London.
Wharton had a great fondness for dogs, and owned several throughout her life.
Hermione Lee is the first woman Goldsmiths' Professor of English Literature at Oxford University. Her books include a major biography of Virginia Woolf; studies of Elizabeth Bowen, Willa Cather and Philip Roth; and a collection of essays on life-writing, "Virginia Woolf's Nose." Also a well-known critic, Lee served as the Chair of Judges for the Man Booker Prize for Fiction in 2006. She lives in Oxford and Yorkshire.
“Ethan Frome [is considered] Mrs. Wharton’s masterpiece . . . The secret of its greatness is the stark human drama of it; the social crudity and human delicacy intermingled; the defiant, over-riding passion, and the long-drawn-out logic of the paid penalty. It has no contexts, no mitigations; it is plain, raw, first-hand human stuff.”—The New York Times“Ethan Frome is Wharton’s only fiction to have become part of the American mythology . . . Wharton’s astonishing authority here is to render such pain with purity and economy . . . Truly it is a northern romance, akin even to Wuthering Heights.”—Harold Bloom“Traditionally, Henry James has always been placed slightly higher up the slope of Parnassus than Edith Wharton. But now that the prejudice against the female writer is on the wane, they look to be exactly what they are: giants, equals, the tutelary and benign gods of our American literature.” —Gore Vidal