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 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, 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 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.
Edith Wharton was born Edith Newbold Jones to George and Lucretia Jones in New York City on January 24, 1862. Edith married Teddy Wharton, 12 years older than she. They lived a life of relative ease with homes in New York, Rhode Island, and Massachusetts. Novels flowed from her mind in the years between 1900 and 1938. Indeed her novels became so popular with the general public that Ms. Wharton was able to live comfortably on her earnings the rest of her life. Edith divorced Teddy in 1912, having no immediate heirs, and never married again. Instead she traveled extensively by motorcar, helped untiringly with refugees in Paris during the first World War, and only returned once again in her lifetime to the United States to accept the Pulitzer prize for her novel, The Age of Innocence. She held salons where the gifted intellectuals of her time gathered to discuss and share ideas. F. Scott Fitzgerald, and Ernest Hemingway were guests of hers. Edith lived in two homes in France, one in the north of Paris, Pavillon Colombe, and one at Hyere, Ste. Claire. Her flat in Paris was at 53 Rue de Varenne. She retired to Pavillon Colombe and continued to write until a stroke took her life in August 1937. She is buried in the American Cemetery at Versailles. The inscription on her grave stone reads: "O Crux Ave Spes Unica", which translates: "Hail, o cross, the one hope."