Thursday, January 28, 2010

A Little Review - ETHAN FROME

Wow, this week has been excrutiatingly busy! This is the 2nd book I've completed this week - and both of them have been for school. Ugh. I know, I can't believe I have to READ for SCHOOL! but while I'm "reading" for "school," my poor little blog and fun books are getting neglected. Oh well, I do what I can. Here's my review for Ethan Frome:
Okay, so once I got over my temper tatrum at my professor's effrontery to make me read for class, I actually liked this book! Now, that's saying something, because usually I grade classics just like I would any other book - none of this: "Ohhh, gee, Author Person! You're book is all kinds of wonderful just because IT'S OLD and lots of people have to write term papers over it!" Nope. The funny thing that I can't get over is that I absolutely HATE books like this one: not a whole lot of action, really indecisive characters, circumstances that are not overcome, etc. And yet Ethan Frome really got to me. I read the whole thing kicking and screaming, saying "No! I WILL NOT like this book! You can't make me!" but it was no use. Here's the scoop (and it's a pretty easy scoop): A poor farmer with an ultra-whiny hypochondriac wife (or at least that's my professor's interpretation) live with the ultra-whiny wife's pretty and vivacious cousin, and the poor downtrodden farmer falls in love with the enchanting cousin (Mattie) but can't seem to escape his circumstances. That's it. And yet, there's so much more. I don't like Ethan, I certainly don't like Zeena...Mattie's really the only character I truly liked...and yet I cared about them all and was rooting for Ethan even though he's such a dadgum loser! Maybe my parents were a little too into the whole "pull yourself up by your bootstraps, kids!!!" growing up but I really felt like circumstances weren't near as bleak as Ethan made them out to be. We talked about that a lot in class today: psychological realism novels are really big into the whole "appearances vs. reality" scenario, and I just found that so intriguing. I hate to admit it, but I found myself wishing Ethan and Mattie would just elope and get it over with, and a pox on that scurvy Zeena! Maybe that's why this book is a classic: it's so incredibly simple, and yet by the time you're finished, you feel emotionally exhausted. This book doesn't make you feel better about yourself or life (unless you thank God you're not operating a sawmill in Starkfield, MA in the winter!) and I'm still not entirely sure what message (if any) Edith Wharton was trying to send, but the story just captivated me. Now granted, this is NOT the type of thing I look for in outside fun-reading, but I'm glad I had the experience. It's like when you're in a bookstore or a library and you pass a classic, you can beam with pride and point and declare, "I READ THAT!" So thank you, Dr. Bruce, and thank you to my mom who is an English teacher/principal who let me use her teaching copy - the one with all the notes and unlined passages. :D - Definitely recommended to Classics Lovers. And if you're a student and you find Ethan Frome on your "Required Reading" syllabus, don't fret, for this is an easy read. It could be a heck of a lot worse.

*thinks of T.S. Eliot and shivers*
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