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Publisher's Summary

Ethan Frome is a 1911 novel by Edith Wharton, set in turn-of-the-century New England, in the fictitious town of Starkfield, Massachusetts. It is the story of a poor farmer, lonely and downtrodden, his wife Zeena, and their pretty and vivacious cousin, Mattie Silver. This is a short but powerful and engrossing drama, and although it is the least characteristic of the author's novels, it has become her most celebrated book.
Public Domain (P)1988 Jimcin Recordings

What members say

Average Customer Ratings

Overall

  • 3.5 out of 5 stars
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    25
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    12
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    15
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Performance

  • 4 out of 5 stars
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    5
  • 2 Stars
    6
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Story

  • 4 out of 5 stars
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  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Sarah
  • BOERNE, TX, United States
  • 08-31-17

Sad but Wonderful

I gave it five stars because Wharton is a fabulous writer, but the story is about as grim as one could be. If you are interested in this book it's probably for a class or a book club. I picked this edition of the many available because of the price but I was not disappointed.

Killavey reads in a careful almost plodding manner on the narrative parts but really makes the dialogue come alive. I thought his style of reading fit the narrative quite well, but it might seem too slow for some listeners.

I would never choose this book unless, as it happened, it was a book club selection, but I found it very engaging. I enjoyed it even though the author reveals in the beginning that the ending won't be a happy one. It seems an accurate picture of the hard life on a New England farm back in day, told through the eyes of an engineer from the modern world visiting the area to work on a project about twenty years after the main part of the story.

4 of 4 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    1 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    1 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    1 out of 5 stars

Horrible narrator

I can’t even listen ...sounds like a computer voice...I don’t know if the story is good or not...

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Ellen
  • Jamul, CA, United States
  • 01-12-17

Great writing...so sad

This is such an well written book. Characters were so helpless.... and realistic for the times. In spite of the sad circumstances I had to finish listening.

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    3 out of 5 stars

Not sure why this is considered Wharton's best...

Would you recommend this book to a friend? Why or why not?

The story, as is true of many of Wharton's novels and short stories, is well written. EF represents a departure from the author's typical focus on the weathy of New York during the late 1800s. I like the way Wharton captures the feel of New England; I could easily picture the harsh climate, Starkfield, as well as the charcters. The story however, is a bit predictable and lacks the complexiety compared to other works such as House of Mirth and The Age of Innocence.

What was your reaction to the ending? (No spoilers please!)

Not surprised.

Which character – as performed by Jim Killavey – was your favorite?

Frome's wife, Zeena

If this book were a movie would you go see it?

No. It lacks sufficient complexity.

  • Overall
    2 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    2 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    2 out of 5 stars

Not totally a waste of time but I'd skip it!

Not entirely as dismal as it had been sold to me, the story never captured my imagination and the ending was somewhat of a disappointment especially because the final repercussions are for the most part self inflicted. The characters are flat and the plot line is rather dull and predictable. Besides, the chronological line of the story is somewhat hard to follow. "I had the story, bit by bit, from various people..." the narrator warns us at the beginning, and quite frankly, am not sure that I fully grasped how and when who learned what. Sadly, the work was so uninteresting that even though the book is very short, I did not care to go back and find out. The narrator doesn't help much either. His voice is monotone and boring, always conspiring with the plot to make you numb and fall sleep.
Not entirely a waste of time -precisely because the book is so brief- I would recommend you skip it since there are so many other great short works -Of Mice and Men, Fahrenheit 451, The Pearl, The Old Man and the Sea, The Tunnel- that I would recommend reading before Ethan Frome, unless, of course, you have to read it as a High School assignment.

0 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars

A Dark Story

This is the rather depressing tale of Ethan Frome, a man trapped in an unhappy marriage to a sickly, morose wife and at the same time in love with their young, lively house guest. The writer's characterizations are astute and her language powerful. However, the quality of writing was much higher than that of the narration which I found slow and very stilted. To the narrator's credit I will say that the diction was clear, probably a result of his very pronounced, unnatural style. Even though I was able to appreciate the book itself (I'd give 4-5 stars to the actual writing)I suggest you listen to the sample clip before committing to this!

5 of 19 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars

Wharton's Ethan Frome

I love Edith Wharton's writing and wit, and her social sensibilities, and I believe this book lives up to my expectations there. But the reading is so slow and lifeless that I began to find the book rather tedious. There is no expression and no change in pace in the reading, no tonal modulation at all, so that after a while one's eyes would glaze over if the story were not so engaging.

2 of 16 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    1 out of 5 stars

Quite possibly the worst narrator...

...possible. Ethan Frome is a masterpiece. It deserves a first-rate reading; this version is unbearable.


2 of 17 people found this review helpful