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Posts Tagged ‘good books’

Do you remember the first grown-up novel you ever read?

I do.

It was Ethan Frome, by Edith Wharton

And I have never been so frustrated by the end of a book in all the years since.

I was a pre-teen who believed love would always prevail and that life was all about story book happy endings. Was I in for a surprise!

Published long ago (in 1911), this tragic story clearly portrays the struggles of the poor, the frustration of unrequited love, the sadness of human failure and the diabolical tricks of fate.  Ethan Frome transmits a realistic intensity that is as current now as in any modern cinematic drama.  I was totally mesmerized.  I could not put the little book down.  I willed it to have a happy ending, and I was hooked on reading.  I still love this amazing work of fiction, no matter the frustration of a trio of tragic destinies, and I still have the impulsive urge to rewrite the last pages.

If you have not yet read it, this is the story of a dirt-poor New England farmer (gorgeous handsome man of course), his ailing nagging shrew of a wife , their bleak landscape, the finality of constant misery, and a beautiful “hired girl” (his wife’s vivacious cousin) who arrives to be a housekeeper and who  brings joy and hope for happiness into Ethan’s life.  It’s the writing that brings everything  to life and the writing grabs you, right from the beginning.

Ethan Frome is thought by many to be Edith Wharton’s masterpiece and an American classic.  There is a film now too, starring Liam Neeson as Ethan. The movie is as poignant as the book and well worth seeing.

Do you remember the first grown-up novel you ever read?  What was it?

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