Ehtan Frome by Edith Wharton
I read this book for the second time yesterday afternoon. And what a story it is.
A businessman arrives at a New England town and has to stay a while. He notices a man who limps badly, has a terrible scar on his face, and looks as though he is down and out. What is his story, he wonders. Edith Wharton spins the tale of Ethan and his wife, Zeena, who is a hypocondriac. Ethan's wife is always going to doctors for some complaint or the other. We pretty much know that this is not necessary - but rather something wrong with her mind. A distant cousin of Ethan's wife, Mattie, comes to stay with them to help out around the house. She is a bright spirit in a sad and disfunctional household. Ethan realizes how unhappy he is with his wife and how much happier he would be with Mattie but, alas, he has no money to use to run away. His farm his heavily mortgaged and he owes rather than saves money. There is no way out for him and Mattie. Zeena goes on a two-day trip to see yet another doctor and leaves Mattie and Ethan alone. They have dinner together and sit and talk in the living room. They eyes look at each other and their hands meet. When Zeena returns, she decides to toss her cousin out on her ear and obtain a new live-in maid. Ethan insists on taking her cousin to the train station and, on the way, they decide to go sledding. It is dark and the slope is icy. And a very large elm is at the bottom of the hill. What happens next is a terrible accident where Ethan is almost killed - he obtains a huge scar on his face from the accident and a permanent limp. And his wife's cousin is injured so badly she can hardly walk after that.
Edith Wharton's description of life after the accident is both sad and memorable.
You can read this book in an afternoon and rejoyce that you are not Ethan Frome, Mattie or Zeena. Happy reading.