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Ethan Frome By Edith Wharton
eBook (ePub): $1.60
Originally published by Scribners in 1911, Ethan Frome is a novella that frames the eponymous character's story, told as an extended flashback, with a prologue and final segment presented by an... More > unnamed narrator. Frome is presented as simple enough man trying to run a farm that is essentially unproductive. He lives with his wife Zeena who is demanding. Into this scenario comes Zeena's young and attractive cousin Mattie with whom Frome forges a reciprocal romantic relationship that is never stated between the two in plain language and is never consummated. When Zeena's impositions become too much, Frome and Mattie consider running away together, but without sufficient funds Frome feels he cannot commit. In a final, frantic alternative, the two resolve to embark on a suicide pact, but it doesn't end as it was intended. The closing segment, once the flashback has concluded, reveals, through the eyes of the unnamed narrator, exactly what resulted, an outcome unforeseen and unwanted.< Less
Crucial Instances By Edith Wharton
eBook (ePub): $1.60
Originally published in 1901, Crucial Instances is a collection of six short stories connected, as the title suggests, by a hinging moment in the narrative through which the plot alters dramatically.... More > In The Angel at the Grave, Paulina Anson finds herself the sole custodian of her grandfather's inheritance; an old, grand, but oppressive house and, perhaps worse, philosophical achievements that were once lauded but now forgotten so that only his name is remembered. When she researches and completes his biography she is told by a publisher that there is no public interest at all. Wharton commits two-thirds of this short story creating a morbid sense of depression and failure before, with a ring of the door-bell, she transforms Paulina's predicament.< Less
Glimpses of the Moon By Edith Wharton
eBook (ePub): $1.61
Originally published in 1922, Glimpses of the Moon is a novel about marriage concentrating on the relationship between Nick and Sue Lancing, a couple hindered by a lack of wealth and the consequent... More > necessity of relying on friends and acquaintances to support a life in high society. Nick is a writer struggling to make ends meet while Sue is left to meet their needs through the generosity of others. Their marriage teeters on the stated understanding that if either of them finds a better opportunity – if they meet somebody with better prospects – then an uncontested divorce might follow. Naturally this creates problems, but it also enables Wharton to develop ideas about what a marriage should entail and what makes it vital.< Less
A Backward Glance By Edith Wharton
eBook (ePub): $1.61
Originally published in 1934, A Backward Glance is a memoir written by Wharton in her last years. The book dwells on Wharton's early and middle life leading up to and including her experiences during... More > the First World War. The final chapter covers her life after the war, close on twenty years, emphasising a Mediterranean cruise and the unexpected death of her friend Geoffrey Scott. This is most certainly a writer's memoir rather than an autobiographical narrative. The writing itself is poised and mature; Wharton here reads like a confident artisan, at ease with her profession and happy to reel off her thought and remembrances. The reason it isn't an autobiography in the strictest sense is that Wharton leaves so much of her life out of the book, some of it for obvious reasons – such as the Morton Fullerton affair – and others maybe because she just can't be bothered. That aside, it's a joy to read.< Less
Certain People By Edith Wharton
eBook (ePub): $1.61
Originally published in 1930, Certain People is a collection of six short stories. The book starts with Atrophy, a neat study of near desperation in tight social surroundings as Nora Frenway bravely... More > seeks to visit her gravely ill lover Christopher only to come up against the polite rebuff presented by his domineering sister Jane Aldiss. The final story, Mr Jones, references Poe's The Purloined Letter, using a variation of the central epistolary device while also managing to slip in aspects of Poe's own life history, in particular his marriage to the his young first cousin.< Less
The Mother's Recompense By Edith Wharton
eBook (ePub): $1.60
Originally published in 1925, The Mother's Recompense details the predicament Kate Clephane finds herself in when recalled to New York from her self-imposed exile to the French Riviera after she had... More > abandoned her husband and infant daughter. What makes her return is the impending marriage of that same daughter, but what she finds is that the soon to be husband, Chris Fenno, was a man she had loved before her departure from New York. Kate Clephane's moral dilemma provides the platform on which Wharton's character study is built; a battle of the consciousness between sexual love on the one side and maternal love on the other. By setting the two distinctions into play, Wharton has no concerns about the moralities of what might be implied, simply that Kate Clephane is quite capable of choosing the former and winning over the man her daughter intends to marry.< Less
The Greater Inclination By Edith Wharton
eBook (ePub): $1.63
Originally published in 1899, The Greater Inclination was Wharton's first collection and comprised seven short stories and a play in two parts. Most of the pieces had been previously published in... More > magazines, with one, The Portrait, composed specifically for the book to replace another that Wharton thought was too over-wrought. Of those pieces included, two of them stand out; the new composition is one and the other is The Muse's Tragedy. In the latter, Wharton contrives to make a comparison between a fictional muse as she appears to an aspiring writer and critic from works she inspired, and subsequently in real life when they meet by chance in Venice, spending a month together. The writer thinks he has stumbled upon a career-defining opportunity when they promise to meet up again in six weeks, but then he receives her letter and is brought back to earth.< Less
The House of Mirth By Edith Wharton
eBook (ePub): $1.64
Originally published in 1905, The House of Mirth was Wharton's first major novel and arguably her best. It recounts the downward course of the socially aspirant Lilly Bart who is seemingly superior... More > in intellect and beauty than any of her peers and yet is critically constrained financially. Her only sensible recourse, marriage into money, is denied her while the alternative, marriage for love and companionship, she rejects to her cost. On the surface, the novel is an examination of mannerisms in contemporary American society. Lilly Bart is the finest example of all that is required within her social set and while she has the funds – or can secure the funds – necessary to maintain her standing, her peers accept her presence. Yet when she falls financially, not even her looks and abilities are sufficient to keep her from poverty.< Less
The Children By Edith Wharton
eBook (ePub): $1.64
Originally published in 1928, The Children is a late novel concerns Martin Boyne's distraction from his anticipated marriage to Rose Sellars, a recently widowed woman of his own age. The distraction... More > comes in the form of seven children he meets aboard a ship sailing from South America to Italy, principally the eldest of them, the fifteen year-old Judith Wheater. Torn between his obligation to Rose and his gradual attraction to Judith, Martin begins to question his motive while nursing a regret for a life without children. The novel has been interpreted as an autobiographical work of fiction in which Wharton expresses her own regret at not having children and in the process enthusing about her love for the younger people in her life. That said, in a modern society, the central relationship between Martin, a forty-six year old man and Judith, some thirty years younger and not yet out of puberty can't help to raise questions of propriety.< Less
Bunner Sisters By Edith Wharton
eBook (ePub): $1.64
Originally published in 1916, but actually written in 1890, Bunner Sisters is a novella about social exclusion and deprivation. The sisters of the title, Anna Eliza and Evelina scrape a living from... More > selling simple haberdashery items such as buttons, trims and ribbons. Their lives are mundane and in all respects unrewarding in the ordinary sense, but they are sustained by their dedication and love for each other. However, their existence is disturbed when the birthday gift of a clock serves to introduce a mysterious stranger in the form of a clockmaker. The novella is noteworthy for its assumed influence by the real-life Bunner Brothers, Henry and Rudolph who had literary and artistic talents respectively and were within the same social circle as Wharton in late nineteenth century America. To what extent this can be pursued remains open to question, but the coincidences are plain, even if the renown of the Bunners diminished significantly after their deaths.< Less

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