These brilliantly wrought, tragic novellas explore the repressed emotions and destructive passions of working-cass people far removed from the social milieu usually inhabited by Edith Wharton’s characters. Ethan Frome (1911) is one of Wharton’s most famous works; it is a tightly constructed and almost unbearably heartbreaking story of forbidden love in a snowbound New England village. Summer (1917), also set in rural New England, is often considered a companion to Ethan Frome – Wharton herself called it ‘the hot Ethan’ – in its portrayal of a young woman’s sexual and social awakening. Bunner Sisters (1916) takes place in the narrow, dusty streets of late-nineteenth-century New York, where the constrained but peaceful lives of two spinster shopkeepers are shattered when they meet a man who becomes the unworthy focus of all their pent-up hopes.
All three of these novellas feature realistic and haunting characters as vivid as any Wharton ever conjured, and together they provide a superb introduction to the shorter fiction of one of America’s greatest writers.
Everyman’s Library, 2008 (1911, 1916, 1917)