Book Review: Ethan Frome by Edith Wharton.
Ethan Frome was originally published by Charles Scribner’s Sons, New York, 1911.
“A tragic story of wasted lives, set against a bleak New England background. A poverty-stricken New England farmer, his ailing wife and a youthful housekeeper are drawn relentlessly into a deep-rooted domestic struggle in this hauntingly grim tale of thwarted love. Considered by many to be Wharton’s masterpiece.” – Amazon Book Description
This is crazy! I did not ever think I would write a review for this book! But when WEGO Health‘s National Health Blog Post Month prompt was to write about a recent book that I read and relate it to my health, I got to thinking.
Saturday, I read a book that I had not read yet by an author that I love, Edith Wharton. The name of the book is Ethan Frome. The more commonly known book by Edith Wharton is The Age of Innocence. I read Ethan Frome because I was intrigued by a quote that someone posted on Twitter.
“They seemed to come suddenly upon happiness as if they had surprised a butterfly in the winter woods.”
I looked up the quote on Google and found out where it came from, then I looked up the book on Good Reads and there was an instant free download. (I love it when that happens!) I read it hoping to find a love story filled with more beautiful metaphors and similes to devour.
What I found was a dark, dreary, cold, and very long description of the life and times of a Mr. Ethan Frome whose happiness lasted no longer than the length of this sentence. A lot of Ethan’s misery came from being a care giver for his parents and then his wife.
“Sickness and trouble: that’s what Ethan’s had his plate full up with, ever since the very first helping.”
The need for a care giver to help his wife in their home was a prominent theme throughout the book. Ethan’s wife had many ailments. Nothing was given a name except it was said that she had “troubles” and then, worse, she was experiencing, “complications.” Zeena Frome was weak and in pain for most of her adult life, however, when she first came to Ethan’s home it was to help care for his mother.
I wonder if what Zeena had was depression? It was never alluded to why they did not have children or why Zeena had no other interests, but it was very clear that she had lost the zest for life. Living on a farm and running a mill in New England in the early 1900’s was a tough life and required a lot of hard work in extreme conditions. She did not have it in her. Or, did she? She was physically able to do the work when others depended on her. I can relate to that!
Sometimes, I have bad days and all I want to do is stay in bed. I know that rest is good for me, but if I let it happen, I can begin to feel like that is where I belong all the time. The longer I let myself rest, the longer I feel sick. The longer I feel sick, the more pain I feel. It is a vicious cycle. I do not have someone to care for me. My husband and sons do what they can and help me by taking care of themselves, but I do not have someone who is there just to help me. And sometimes, I secretly wish I did.
Truth is, I am glad that I don’t have a care giver, a house keeper, a cook, or a nanny. Although, it would be great if I could afford to have some help with the housework! It is a good thing that I do not have someone who takes over whenever I get sick, because I need to be there for my family. They depend on me. And, you know what? Being needed and being able to help someone else gives me so much pleasure that it improves my life and gives me something to live for.
Help someone else, no matter how sick you are. No matter what pain you are in, find something, some way that you can bring joy to someone else. Even if it is something as simple as praying for them, if that is what you can do, it is needed.