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Cover of: Ethan Frome by Edith Wharton
About the Book

Edith Wharton wrote Ethan Frome as a frame story — meaning that the prologue and epilogue constitute a "frame" around the main story

How It All Goes Down
It's winter. A nameless engineer is in Starkfield, Massachusetts on business and he first sees Ethan Frome at the post office. Ethan is a man in his early fifties who is obviously strong, and obviously crippled. The man becomes fascinated with Ethan and wants to know his story. When Ethan begins giving him occasional rides to the train station, the two men strike up a friendship. One night when the weather is particularly bad, Ethan invites the man to stay at his house. In the hall the man hears a woman talking angrily, on and on. When Ethan speaks, the voice stops. The man tells us that he learned something that night which allowed him to imagine Ethan's story. Now we go back in time 24 years and learn about Ethan's life.

Ethan has walked from his farm and sawmill into town to pick up Mattie Silver from the church dance. He peeks in the windows of the church basement and sees Mattie dancing with Denis Eady and is jealous. Mattie is Ethan's wife's cousin. Her parents both died just over a year ago, and she was left with nothing. Her father had apparently swindled some of the relatives out of their savings, so nobody wanted to help Mattie. Zeena, Ethan's wife, is always sick, and decided to let Mattie live with them in exchange for doing the housework and helping the ailing Zeena.

Ethan liked Mattie from the beginning and worried that Zeena was too hard on her. The two women soon adjusted to each other (sort of) and things weren't as bad as they could have been. Meanwhile, Ethan has fallen in love with Mattie and wants to spend all his time with her.

Mattie soon comes out of the dance, and Ethan watches while Denis Eady tries to give her a ride home. She brushes him off and then Ethan reveals his presence. Ethan and Mattie are happy to see each other. They discuss possibly doing some sledding in the future. Neither is afraid to sled down the hill – at the bottom of which lies the deadly elm tree. The walk home is altogether lovely and romantic, but when they arrive, the house key isn't under the mat like it usually is.

Soon, Zeena, looking ill and scary, comes downstairs and lets them in. She's usually in bed by this hour but she couldn't sleep. She is obviously suspicious of their behavior. The next day she announces that she will be gone overnight visiting a new doctor. Mattie and Ethan make good use of her absence and enjoy a romantic dinner for two. Unfortunately, the cat breaks Zeena's favorite dish and Ethan isn't able to locate any glue until after Zeena gets back. The first thing Zeena does when she gets home is to tell Ethan that she's kicking out Mattie. He protests, but fighting is useless. Then Zeena finds the broken pickle dish and is super upset (it had been a wedding gift).

Ethan decides he'll run away with Mattie, but then a combination of lack of cash and guilt stop him. Still, he insists on driving Mattie to the train station. He takes her on the long route, so they can look at different places they enjoyed together. By the time they get to the town sledding hill, it's already dark. As they are contemplating sledding, and pondering the hopelessness of their situation, Mattie suggests that they sled into the elm tree and kill themselves. Ethan agrees and they smash into the tree. But they survive.

Then the story goes back to the present and we find the engineer right where we left him, about to enter the Frome kitchen. When he does enter he learns that the woman who was talking on and on in an argumentative tone is…Mattie! She has spinal disease and can't move without assistance. Zeena is there too, cooking. They all three live together, an unhappy family in the Frome house.

Times

26 Lists See all

103 editions First published in 1910

Edition Read Borrow Buy
Cover of: Ethan Frome.
Publisher unknown
Ethan Frome.
Cover of: Ethan Frome
Publisher unknown
Ethan Frome
Cover of: Ethan Frome
January 1, 1910, Scribner
Ethan Frome
Hardcover in English
Cover of: Ethan Frome
1911, Macmillan
Ethan Frome
in English
Cover of: Ethan Frome
1911, C. Scribner's Sons
Ethan Frome
Microform in English
Cover of: Ethan Frome.
1911, Scribner
Ethan Frome.
in English
Cover of: Ethan Frome
1911, Charles Scribner's Sons
Ethan Frome
in English
Cover of: Ethan Frome.
1911, Scribner
Ethan Frome.
in English
Cover of: Ethan Frome
1911, C. Scribner's Sons
Ethan Frome
Cover of: Ethan Frome
1922, C. Scribner's sons
Ethan Frome
in English
Cover of: Ethan Frome
1922, C. Scribner's sons
Ethan Frome
Cover of: Ethan Frome
1922, C. Scribner's sons
Ethan Frome
in English
Cover of: Ethan Frome.
1922, Scribner
Ethan Frome.
Cover of: Ethan Frome [microform]
1922, C. Scribner's Sons
Ethan Frome [microform]
in English
Cover of: Ethan Frome
1922, C. Scribner's sons
Ethan Frome
Cover of: Ethan Frome
1922, Charles Scribner's Sons
Ethan Frome
in English
Cover of: Ethan Frome.
1924, Eveleigh Nash and Grayson
Ethan Frome.
in English
Cover of: Ethan Frome.
1934, Scribner's
Ethan Frome.
in English
Cover of: Ethan Frome
1938, C Scribner's sons
Ethan Frome
in English
Cover of: Ethan Frome
1939, Limited Editions Club
Ethan Frome
in English
Cover of: Ethan Frome
1939, Charles Scribner's Sons
Ethan Frome
in English
Cover of: Ethan Frome
1939, C. Scribner's sons
Ethan Frome
in English
Cover of: Ethan Frome.
1939, Scribner
Ethan Frome.
in English
Cover of: Ethan Frome
1939, Scribner
Ethan Frome
in English
Cover of: Ethan Frome
1939, Limited Editions Club
Ethan Frome
in English
Cover of: Ethan Frome
1939, Scribner
Ethan Frome
in English
Cover of: Ethan Frome.
1956
Ethan Frome.
in English
Cover of: Ethan Frome.
1960, Scribner
Ethan Frome.
in English
Cover of: Ethan Frome and Summer
1965, Constable
Ethan Frome and Summer
in English
Cover of: Ethan Frome, and, Summer
1965, Constable
Ethan Frome, and, Summer
in English
Cover of: Ethan Frome
February 1968, Prentice Hall College Div
Ethan Frome
Hardcover - School edition
Cover of: Ethan Frome.
1968, Scribner
Ethan Frome.
in English
Cover of: Ethan Frome
1970, Scribner
Ethan Frome
in English
Cover of: Ethan Frome
1970, Scribner
Ethan Frome
in English
Cover of: Ethan Frome
1976, Czytelnik
Ethan Frome
in Polish - Wyd. 1. --
Cover of: Ethan Frome
July 1977, Perfection Learning Prebound
Ethan Frome
Unknown Binding
Cover of: Ethan Frome [LARGE PRINT]
June 1979, Franklin Watts
Ethan Frome [LARGE PRINT]
School & Library Binding in English - Lrg Prnt edition
Cover of: Ethan Frome
September 1, 1982, Books on Tape, Inc.
Ethan Frome
Audio Cassette
Cover of: Ethan Frome
January 1, 1982, Scribner Paper Fiction
Ethan Frome
Paperback in English
Cover of: Ethan Frome ; and, Summer
1982, Oxford University Press
Ethan Frome ; and, Summer
in English
Cover of: Ethan Frome
February 22, 1984, Gallimard
Ethan Frome
Mass Market Paperback in French
Cover of: Ethan Frome (Signet Classics)
January 6, 1987, Signet Classics
Ethan Frome (Signet Classics)
in English
Cover of: Ethan Frome
1987, Collier Books
Ethan Frome
in English - 1st Collier Books ed.
Cover of: Ethan Frome
1987, Penguin
Ethan Frome
in English
Cover of: Ethan Frome
1987, Penguin
Ethan Frome
in English - 1st Signet Classic printing
Cover of: Ethan Frome
1987, New American Library
Ethan Frome
in English
Cover of: Ethan Frome (Classic Books on Cassettes Collection) (Classic Books on Cassettes Collection)
June 1988, Audio Book Contractors
Ethan Frome (Classic Books on Cassettes Collection) (Classic Books on Cassettes Collection)
Audio cassette in English
Cover of: Ethan Frome
1991, Orchises
Ethan Frome
in English
Cover of: Ethan Frome
1991, Dover Publications
Ethan Frome
in English
Cover of: Ethan Frome
1992, Signet Classic
Ethan Frome
- 14. [print.]
Cover of: Ethan Frome
October 1, 1992, Signet Classics
Ethan Frome
in English
Cover of: Ethan Frome
September 24, 1993, Phoenix Press
Ethan Frome
Paperback - New Ed edition
Cover of: Ethan Frome
January 1993, Audio Literature
Ethan Frome
Audio Cassette in English - Unabridged edition
Cover of: Ethan Frome (Twentieth-Century Classics)
February 1, 1994, Penguin Classics
Ethan Frome (Twentieth-Century Classics)
Paperback in English
Cover of: Ethan Frome (Twentieth-Century Classics)
February 1, 1994, Penguin Classics
Ethan Frome (Twentieth-Century Classics)
in English
Cover of: Ethan Frome
1995, Wordsworth Editions Ltd., distributed USA, Universal Sales & Marketing, Inc.
Ethan Frome
in English
Cover of: Ethan Frome (Modern Classics)
April 1995, Naxos Audiobooks Ltd.
Ethan Frome (Modern Classics)
Audio CD in English - Abridged edition
Cover of: Ethan Frome (Penguin Popular Classics)
August 31, 1995, Penguin Books Ltd
Ethan Frome (Penguin Popular Classics)
Cover of: Ethan Frome (Modern Classics)
April 1995, Naxos Audiobooks Ltd.
Ethan Frome (Modern Classics)
Audio Cassette in English - Abridged edition
Cover of: Ethan Frome
1995, W.W. Norton
Ethan Frome
in English - 1st ed.
Cover of: Ethan Frome
1996, Running Press
Ethan Frome
in English
Cover of: Ethan Frome
1996, Oxford University Press
Ethan Frome
in English
Cover of: Ethan Frome (Penguin Classics)
May 1, 1997, Penguin Audio
Ethan Frome (Penguin Classics)
Audio Cassette in English - Unabridged edition
Cover of: Ethan Frome
1997, Scribner Paperpack Fiction
Ethan Frome
in English - 1st Scribner Paperback Fiction ed.
Cover of: Ethan Frome
November 1997, Oxford University Press
Ethan Frome
Cover of: Ethan Frome
1998, EMC/Paradigm Pub.
Ethan Frome
in English
Cover of: Ethan Frome (Oxford World's Classics)
September 23, 1998, Oxford University Press, USA
Ethan Frome (Oxford World's Classics)
in English
Cover of: Ethan Frome
1998, McDougal Littell
Ethan Frome
Unknown Binding in English
Cover of: ETHAN FROME
January 1, 1998, BMI EDUCATIONAL SERVICES, INC.
ETHAN FROME
Paperback - 2000 Printing edition
Cover of: Ethan Frome (Signet Classics)
October 1999, Tandem Library
Ethan Frome (Signet Classics)
School & Library Binding in English
Cover of: Ethan Frome
1999, Cambridge University Press
Ethan Frome
in English
Cover of: Ethan Frome
1999, Audiofy/Naxos
Ethan Frome
Cards in English
Cover of: Ethan Frome (Wordsworth Classics)
October 5, 2000, Wordsworth Editions Ltd
Ethan Frome (Wordsworth Classics)
Paperback in English
Cover of: Ethan Frome (Signet Classics)
June 12, 2000, Signet Classics
Ethan Frome (Signet Classics)
in English
Cover of: Ethan Frome
2001, Replica Books
Ethan Frome
in English - 1st Replica Books ed.
Cover of: Ethan Frome (Pacemaker Classics)
March 2001, Tandem Library
Ethan Frome (Pacemaker Classics)
School & Library Binding in English
Cover of: Ethan Frome (Ultimate Classics)
September 2001, New Millennium Audio
Ethan Frome (Ultimate Classics)
Audio Cassette in English - UNABRIDGED edition
Cover of: Ethan Frome
2001, Modern Library
Ethan Frome
in English - Modern Library pbk. ed.
Cover of: Ethan Frome
2002, G.K. Hall, Chivers Press
Ethan Frome
in English
Cover of: Ethan Frome
September 1, 2002, Tantor Media
Ethan Frome
MP3 CD in English - MP3 CD edition
Cover of: Ethan Frome
2003, Everbind Books
Ethan Frome
in English
Cover of: Ethan Frome
2004, Houghton Mifflin Co.
Ethan Frome
in English
Cover of: Ethan Frome
2004, NuVision Publications
Ethan Frome
E-book in English
Cover of: Ethan Frome
2004, Fictionwise, Inc.
Ethan Frome
E-book in English
Cover of: Ethan Frome
2004, Pocket Books
Ethan Frome
in English - 1st Pocket Books paperback ed.
Cover of: Ethan Frome
2005, Large Print Book Co.
Ethan Frome
in English
Cover of: Ethan Frome
March 1, 2005, Prestwick House Inc.
Ethan Frome
Paperback
Cover of: Ethan Frome (Webster's German Thesaurus Edition)
March 5, 2006, ICON Group International, Inc.
Ethan Frome (Webster's German Thesaurus Edition)
Paperback in English
Cover of: Ethan Frome
July 6, 2006, Waking Lion
Ethan Frome
Cover of: Ethan Frome (Webster's Chinese-Simplified Thesaurus Edition)
May 5, 2006, ICON Group International, Inc.
Ethan Frome (Webster's Chinese-Simplified Thesaurus Edition)
Paperback in English
Cover of: Ethan Frome (Webster's Portuguese Thesaurus Edition)
March 5, 2006, ICON Group International, Inc.
Ethan Frome (Webster's Portuguese Thesaurus Edition)
Paperback in English
Cover of: Ethan Frome (Webster's Chinese-Traditional Thesaurus Edition)
May 5, 2006, ICON Group International, Inc.
Ethan Frome (Webster's Chinese-Traditional Thesaurus Edition)
Paperback in English
Cover of: Ethan Frome
July 6, 2006, Waking Lion Press
Ethan Frome
Paperback in English - Large print edition
Cover of: Ethan Frome
February 28, 2007, Boomer Books
Ethan Frome
Paperback in English
Cover of: Ethan Frome
November 2007, Blackstone Audiobooks
Ethan Frome
Audio CD in English - Unabridged edition
Cover of: Ethan Frome (Large Print Edition)
July 13, 2007, BiblioBazaar
Ethan Frome (Large Print Edition)
Paperback in English - Lrg edition
Cover of: Ethan Frome
October 2007, Blackstone Audiobooks
Ethan Frome
MP3 CD in English - MP3 Una edition
Cover of: Ethan Frome
July 13, 2007, BiblioBazaar
Ethan Frome
Paperback in English
Cover of: Ethan Frome
April 17, 2007, FQ Classics
Ethan Frome
Paperback in English
Cover of: Ethan Frome
September 13, 2007, FQ Classics
Ethan Frome
Hardcover in English
Cover of: Ethan Frome
2008, Oxford University Press
Ethan Frome
in English
Cover of: Ethan Frome
2008, Penguin Group USA, Inc.
Ethan Frome
Electronic resource in English
Cover of: Ethan Frome
2009, The Floating Press
Ethan Frome
E-book in English

History Created October 17, 2009 · 17 revisions
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May 3, 2016 Edited by ada veen summary and analysis of the events in Edith Wharton's Ethan Frome
November 28, 2012 Edited by AnandBot Fixed spam edits.
November 21, 2012 Edited by 188.190.127.67 Edited without comment.
November 4, 2011 Edited by EdwardBot remove 'in fiction' subjects
October 17, 2009 Created by WorkBot add works page