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Ethan Frome | Edith Wharton
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Ethan Frome is one of those books I‘ve been aware of for a long time without knowing anything about the story - I don‘t know what I was expecting from it, but it was nothing like what I got! A cold, bleak rural landscape, a claustrophobic poverty stricken household of 3 mismatched people and a desperation in each of them that leads to terrible consequences. It is beautifully written and deeply affecting.

Leftcoastzen Love your review! 1w
TrishB Great review 👍🏻 1w
Graywacke How lucky you were to have no expectations. 1w
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LeahBergen Great review! I loved this when I first read it and need to revisit it soon. 1w
Cathythoughts Great review! I hadn‘t read it before either .. very powerful book. 1w
batsy Yes, lovely review! And what @LeahBergen said—I want to reread it at some point because I found it quite affecting the first time. 1w
CarolynM @Leftcoastzen @TrishB Thank you😘😘 1w
CarolynM @Graywacke Yes, I think it had such an impact on me because I was so surprised by it. 1w
CarolynM @Cathythoughts Thank you😘 It was good to read it with you and the group. I enjoyed everyone‘s comments. 1w
CarolynM @LeahBergen @batsy Thank you😘😘 I think the surprise of it gave it extra impact for me, but I also think it would repay rereading. I‘ll be interested in what you both think if you do read it again. 1w
Amiable This is one of those books I‘ve been intending to read forever. 😬 4d
75 likes1 stack add11 comments
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Hi, all. I'm looking for a way to get out of my reading slump. Too many distractions these days. I thought joining a buddy read would be fun. I know about #buddyread, #pemberlittens, #furrowedmiddlebrowclub, and #sundaybuddyreads. I plan to check these out. Any suggestions for others? I don't care for rom-coms, science fiction or short stories. Other than that, I'm pretty open.

Thank you!

CarolynM I must have missed this when you posted it, sorry. As well as #FurrowedMiddlebrowClub I‘m also in the #WhartonBuddyRead (reading Edith Wharton in chronological order - I think we‘ve done 5 or 6 so plenty more to go) and the #PersephoneClub group (reading books from the Persephone catalogue) You‘d be very welcome in any of those groups🙂 Hope you find something to get you out of the slump💕 (edited) 1d
Sparklemn @carolynm I love Persephone books. I have about 20 of them and always happy to buy more in the catalogue. I'll check it out. Thank you!! 15h
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Ethan Frome | Edith Wharton
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I loved this book. Ethan‘s presence took me in completely from the very beginning ..
‘ But when winter shut down on Starkfield, and the village lay under a sheet of snow perpetually renewed from the pale skies, I began to see what life there- or rather it‘s negation- must have been in Ethan Frome‘s young manhood.‘

The impact of this story is unforgettable. Crystal clear , brilliant writing.

Megabooks I still remember this from high school. Just read a modern retelling. 1w
Cathythoughts @Megabooks It‘s my first time reading it. I don‘t know if I‘m ready for a retelling , but I‘ll definitely have a look at your book 👍🏻❤️ 1w
LeahBergen Lovely review! I must revisit this book one day; it‘s an old favourite. 😊 1w
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Cathythoughts @LeahBergen Thanks! It‘s so good , I loved it. 1w
Tamra I love this classic tragedy. ❤️🥲 That cover is wonderful! 1w
Cathythoughts @Tamra I love the cover too. The three main characters are there ( and the fourth, the snowy winter cold ) 1w
CarolynM Lovely review❤️ 1w
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Ethan Frome | Edith Wharton
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This left my high school mind with a warped view of Wharton. Unwilling or unable to see the masterpiece, I came away with “droll”, and a sled. Starkville, MA is far away from the New York elite. And it‘s winter and there‘s no money - and these define Ethan‘s marriage and spoken words. And drive his impulsive pursuit of the dancing Mattie Silver. After a slow start, I got really into this sparse shadowy cold world. Great stuff. #whartonbuddyread

BarbaraBB I loved this one. 1w
Cathythoughts Great review. I loved this one too. 1w
Graywacke @BarbaraBB @Cathythoughts it‘s such a perfectly executed little thing. 1w
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Ethan Frome | Edith Wharton
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(I thought I‘d start with a little levity, because that‘s all we‘re going to get.) Is this the anti-Romeo & Juliet, or at least Wharton‘s response to that romantic trope? An argument against the belief that suffering makes one noble? Or just a bleak view of human nature? I‘ll post some favorite quotes below. #whartonbuddyread

Lcsmcat “my heart tightened at the thought of the hard compulsions of the poor.” 1w
Lcsmcat “It‘s horrible for them all,” I murmured. 1w
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Lcsmcat “and the way they are now, I don‘t see‘s there‘s much difference between the Fromes up at the farm and the Fromes down in the graveyard; ‘cept that down there they‘re all quiet, and the women have got to hold their tongues.” 1w
Lcsmcat “She had taken everything else from him, and now she meant to take the one thing that made up for it all.” 1w
Currey Yep, great quotes. Even on the second reading it still packs a punch of utter despair. When I wrote my brief review upon my first reading I said: “he had no choices and still managed to make the wrong one” 1w
Lcsmcat @Currey Love that quote from your review! 1w
Currey @Lcsmcat and Wharton gives us a glimpse of what would have happened to our beautiful horse rider without euthanasia in The Fruit of the Tree…not only did the sleigh ride destroy all hope, but it destroyed all beauty, in mind as well as body. 1w
Lcsmcat @Currey Good point. One wonders how long she had been thinking about the subject. 1w
Graywacke @Currey The Fruit of the Tree had a a memorable sleigh ride too. A curious Wharton symbol for romance. 1w
Lcsmcat @Graywacke It makes me wonder if she was contemplating the scenario and then working it out with different variations. “What if they died? Didn‘t die? What if they were rich? Or poor?” Like she really needed/wanted to explore the idea of what makes life worth living, or not. I‘m not expressing myself very well. 1w
Graywacke Even though I did read some or all of this in high school, this was essentially a first read. Nothing was familiar. The first five chapters were so slow, I was surprised how intense this became. I got really into Ethan‘s various moves and Zeena‘s reactions. 1w
Graywacke @Lcsmcat hmm. Certainly there is a feeling of chance, the sled skating recklessly over the surface, taking fate where is may. But then I think Ethan was fully in control of the sled. 1w
Graywacke @Lcsmcat i love the comic, by the way. Was i the only one who found an element of humor in the ending? (I‘m not saying it wasn‘t moving. It certainly was for me.) 1w
Lcsmcat @Graywacke I think there was some dry New England humor in that last sentence. You can almost hear him chuckling to himself and shaking his head as he says it. 1w
jewright I just love this story even though it‘s so sad. Wharton just makes you feel and sympathize with all the characters. I hate Zeena, but I feel sorry for her too. And poor Ethan has just had the worst luck his whole life. My question after our last two reads is: Why is Wharton obsessed with spinal injuries?! 1w
Lcsmcat @jewright There is thought that EF was inspired by/based on a real coasting accident in Lenox in 1904, prior to the publication of either work. One girl died and others were wounded. It may have gotten her thinking. https://theberkshireedge.com/the-real-life-tragedy-that-might-have-inspired-edit... 1w
Graywacke @Lcsmcat Well the last line is brilliant. I was thinking how Zeena‘s hypochondria and Ethan‘s innocence are both unmasked, and how Zeena distracts him at the penultimate moment. Although I guess it‘s arguable that Ethan gets unmasked - it takes me some leaps to get there. Should I go there? 1w
Cathythoughts Just starting second half …. I‘m scared for what‘s coming ! 1w
Leftcoastzen I loved the writing, the quotes you picked are so good. 1w
Lcsmcat @Graywacke Zeena‘s face hovering before him made me picture some bad movie animation with a disembodied head floating in the air. 😂 1w
Cathythoughts @Lcsmcat Yes , and the rocking chair when Ethan and Mattie are alone that night. Zeena‘s haunting presence.. ‘as they sat thus he heard a sound behind him and turned his head. The cat had jumped from Zeena‘s chair….and as a result of the sudden movement the empty chair had set up a spectral rocking ‘ very scary (edited) 1w
Lcsmcat @Cathythoughts Ooh yes, very cinematic! I haven‘t watched any of the adaptations but I might have to now. 1w
Graywacke For what it‘s worth I loved this novella. I loved how Wharton created this stark Starkville, with few words, none reliable, with strong fallen personalities, all (starkly?) portrayed in black against the cold white snow and ice. 1w
Lcsmcat @Graywacke I did too. It‘s a stunning display of virtuoso prose, portraying a place and the internal lives of characters so well. 1w
arubabookwoman I don"t have much to add--all the comments are great. Definitely a devastating ending, and Ethan, Mattie and Zeena are imprisoned in Starkville for life. I think this is one of her more perfect novels. 1w
Leftcoastzen @Graywacke maybe the book should be renamed Starkville.😀 1w
CarolynM Love the cartoon😆 Well, I wasn‘t expecting that story at all. It‘s certainly an affecting piece of writing. I‘m astonished by how few words she needs to create so much atmosphere, in terms of both the stark, cold landscape and the claustrophobic household. While I felt for Ethan and even more for Mattie (did she really have feelings for Ethan, or was it just the bleakness of her immediate future?) I didn‘t understand Zeena at all. 1w
Graywacke @Leftcoastzen we should definitely rename it! Outer Starkville? 1w
Graywacke @arubabookwoman I agree it‘s about perfectly done. 1w
Graywacke @CarolynM I like how her few words mirrored the characters words. (I wonder - if we are watching EF make Mattie a Zeena, maybe Zeena once was a kind of Mattie too, before Ethan came along.) 1w
Lcsmcat @CarolynM I wondered the same about Ethan and his feelings for Mattie. It seemed to me that he reached out for whatever was close and comforting; first Zeena, then Mattie. (edited) 1w
Cathythoughts @CarolynM I wasn‘t expecting this story either .. what a piece of writing indeed. @arubabookwoman a devastating ending it was ! I‘m left with that feeling of impact Ethan and Mattie must have felt… physically and mentally and every possible way. @Lcsmcat your quote about the dead & graveyard sums it up for me .. this story goes beyond all feeling. 1w
Cathythoughts @Graywacke I loved this book too. Ethan‘s presence took me in completely from the very beginning.. ‘ I saw his face as it probably looked when he thought himself alone … he looks as if he were dead and in hell now‘. Then the poverty, the isolation, the cold snow … Brilliantly done, what great writing. 1w
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The Reef | Edith Wharton
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repost for @Graywacke & @Lcsmcat:

The meaning of the title is symbolic. Written in the shadow of her own divorce and failed secret affair, this is a novel on fidelity and infidelity and maybe boundaries.

Wharton was unhappy with her novel, and called it a “poor miserable lifeless lump”. Critics tend to be more forgiving. If you‘re curious, make your own call in our next #whartonbuddyread

original post: https://www.litsy.com/web/post/2403410

jewright I‘m intrigued. 2w
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The Reef | Edith Wharton
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The meaning of the title is symbolic. Written in the shadow of her own divorce and failed secret affair, this is a novel on fidelity and infidelity and maybe boundaries. But the image makes a nice contrast of the New England winter of Ethan Frome.

Wharton was unhappy with her novel, and called it a “poor miserable lifeless lump”. Critics tend to be more forgiving. If you‘re curious, make your own call in our next #whartonbuddyread

Lcsmcat Love the photo! It does warm one after the snows of Starkesville! (edited) 2w
Sparklemn @graywacke I'd love to join the read for The Reef 14h
Graywacke @Sparklemn Cool. Your timing is perfect. We'll chat about Book One in about two weeks. Have you read Wharton?... or what have you read by Wharton? 12h
Sparklemn @Graywacke I've read Age of Innocence, the Buccaneers, and The Custom of the Country albeit many years ago. Looking forward to trying another Wharton. 12h
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Ethan Frome | Edith Wharton
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Well, we know this can‘t end well. 🙂 I‘m getting some Cather vibes from this one: a narrator we don‘t really get to know, the setting as a major character, the effect the climate/weather has on characters‘ personalities. Anyone else seeing that connection? And how do you feel about Ethan‘s behavior - justified because of Zeena‘s , unforgivable, or somewhere in between? #whartonbuddyread

Lcsmcat Some quotes I highlighted, this one about Ethan “I simply felt that he lived in a depth of moral isolation too remote for casual access” 2w
Lcsmcat “Zenobia, though doubtful of the girl‘s efficiency, was tempted by the freedom to find fault without much risk of losing her;” 2w
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Lcsmcat Zeena took the view that Mattie was bound to make the best of Starkfield since she hadn‘t any other place to go to; but this did not strike Ethan as conclusive. Zeena, at any rate, did not apply the principle in her own case. 2w
Lcsmcat He recalled his mother‘s growing taciturnity, and wondered if Zeena were also turning “queer.” Women did, he knew. Zeena, who had at her fingers‘ ends the pathological chart of the whole region, had cited many cases of the kind while she was nursing his mother; and he himself knew of certain lonely farm-houses in the neighbourhood where stricken creatures pined, and of others where sudden tragedy had come of their presence. 2w
Lcsmcat And finally Ethan, contemplating Mattie: “Now, in the warm lamplit room, with all its ancient implications of conformity and order, she seemed infinitely farther away from him and more unapproachable” 2w
Currey @Lcsmcat Loved the quote about Mattie making the best of Starkfield… Although I had read this previously what I remembered was the cold and of course, the ending. I had it in my head that the narrator was a woman, as it would be a woman who would be haunted by the face of a broken man. I was surprised to find it “an engineer”, who no doubt at the time was a man. 2w
Currey @Lcsmcat Ethan‘s behavior is completely above board in this section. He is well aware of not kissing her, not even touching her hand but clearly he is communicating longing and Mattie is hearing it. Wharton has made Ethan so sympathetic that it seems natural to think he deserves some happiness. However, we are also well aware that something is “not right” and that keeps seeping in with the cold 2w
Lcsmcat @Currey I like your phrase “seeping in with the cold.” Wharton is so skillful that, even though it was 80 plus degrees outside I was cold while reading it! 2w
Lcsmcat Interesting thought about thinking the narrator a woman. I had thought him a man, but also thought that a man would talk more about his own business than our narrator does. Maybe just showing my prejudice there! 2w
Graywacke @Currey @Lcsmcat it never occurred to me that the narrator might be a woman. I just assumed a man, but I have no idea why. 2w
Graywacke @Lcsmcat interesting about relating to Cather - who was little known in 1911. I felt the same at the beginning. The narrator set up and the tangible landscape. The tone felt Cather-ish and was not like other Wharton novels. But by the time I finished Ch 5 I no longer thought of Cather. Now it feels like my vague memories of Nathaniel Hawthorn. 2w
Lcsmcat @Graywacke I wasn‘t implying that Wharton was influenced by Cather, just that it gave off that vibe to me. And then, it went full Little House with the “queer” women bit. 😂 2w
Graywacke Overall I find it dense but in an interesting way. Every word has meaning. Since Ethan and the two woman don‘t say much, everything they do say conveys a world of possible stuff, much of it very dark and emotionally spare. And that seems to have drifted into the text itself. I keep thinking mainly about mostly silent Zeena vilified by Ethan. His version of her is haunting…and quietly dehumanizing. 2w
Graywacke @Lcsmcat 😂 … and I understood - overlapping vibes. 2w
Graywacke I‘m not sure I have much sympathy for Ethan. A little. But he‘s so manipulative in his few words. His backhanded flirting is creepy. And Mattie is trapped with this creep…although I‘m not sure how she feels about it. She, ya know, doesn‘t say. Maybe she‘s amused. 2w
Lcsmcat @Graywacke I‘m a bit creeped out by Ethan‘s behavior too. And I don‘t think that type of flirting is innocent. But Mattie seems to encourage him, whether because of her feelings or for some sort of gain. 🤷🏻‍♀️ 2w
arubabookwoman I read this in 10th grade English class and hated it, then finally reread it 15 or 20 years ago and I remember loving it. This time so far, I am not feeling it--maybe b/c so far we've just read the "set-up" so to speak. But Wharton's depiction of the chilly and isolating landscape is wonderful. 2w
llwheeler I'm not rereading this as I don't have time this month, but I read it a couple of years ago. I definitely remember the climate/environment having a huge impact on the story, reminded me of a lot of CanLit in that sense. 2w
arubabookwoman She is also masterful in depicting her characters. Ethan "looks as if he was dead and in hell!", with a look on his face which "neither poverty nor physical suffering could have put there." He seems part of "the mute melancholy landscape, an incarnation of frozen woe...." It was interesting that it was noted that perhaps Ethan would not have married Zenobia had his mother died in spring rather than winter. 2w
arubabookwoman And such a contrast between Zenobia and Mattie. "Zenobia's fault finding was of the silent kind, but not the less penetrating for that." Mattie with her cherry red ribbons, laughing eyes, using the best pickle dish that Zenobia always stored away in the cupboard and never used. 2w
Graywacke @arubabookwoman interesting. I find it out of tune with the Wharton novels we have read. I wonder if that impacts your impression. It does mine. For what it‘s worth, at this point Wharton‘s marriage was essentially dead. She was having or would soon be having a secret and not so great affair. And she was relocating or had settled in France. I wonder if she just needed to be away from New York. 2w
Currey @Graywacke @Lcsmcat @arubabookwoman We definitely have the common Wharton theme of not being able to communicate verbally. Not being able to just “say it”, so as Graywacke points out all the little that is verbalized contains almost too much. 2w
Currey @graywacke @lcsmcat @arubabookwoman Also, why do I not feel much sympathy for Zeena who was a cheerful helpful woman before being stuck with Ethan and Starkfield and before getting ill. Intellectually I think I am but Wharton isn‘t helping me. What did others think/feel? 2w
arubabookwoman @Graywacke It is different than what we've read so far, not HF, not a "society" novel. But previously in my mind I had categorized it with other novels of hers involving country folk or working class people, and I in the past liked some of those more than her society novels. (Thinking of Summer). I'll be interested in whether this picks up for me in the 2nd half. As I said I placed this among my top Wharton reads when I read it last. 2w
arubabookwoman @Currey Agree that the lack of communication is at the forefront here, but at least so far it's failure to communicate, not miscommunication. I also feel no sympathy for Zenobia, and I think Wharton intends that. Such a negative character. Ethan was subject to the same environment, but retained his love of nature, humanity, maybe dreams, while Zenobia became a harpy. 2w
Graywacke @Currey I‘m think Zeena is a victim of a smear campaign driven by Ethan‘s repressed sexuality, and she is in too much pain to do anything about it. 🙂 2w
arubabookwoman @Lcsmcat Re the picture--Was there a film made of Ethan Frome? This is a good visual. B/c I was having a hard time visualizing Ethan putting his face in Mattie's sewing. 2w
Lcsmcat @arubabookwoman I pulled that off the internet and yes, it‘s from a film. I think there are multiple film versions, but I‘m not sure. 2w
Lcsmcat @Graywacke Z as the victim of a smear campaign is an interesting thought. But I think there‘s more to it than that. Like, she could be cheerful when she was busily taking care of someone, but losing that importance sends her into a funk. 2w
Leftcoastzen The weather is so much a character here , made me feel cold in a hot climate.Ethan is frustrated & frustrating no doubt. I remember noting that when he married Zeena it seemed like he settled for the obvious, & would he have made a different choice in a different season? I think a bit about if Zeena was/is depressed by the whole situation.most” medicines “ of the day where really alcohol,opium or other drugs , maybe she‘s more addicted than sick. (edited) 2w
Leftcoastzen I love how Wharton era reads are so filled with that repressed tension. Even though the characters are working class , they still feel the moral norms of the time & aspire to adhere to them . A touch or gesture means so much .. 2w
Lcsmcat @Leftcoastzen Good point! She‘s probably out of it most of the time! 2w
Cathythoughts Yes good point about Zeena being out of it on medicines , I hadn‘t thought of that. I‘m really enjoying this so far, I like Ethan, at least I‘m very curious about him and interested to see where this goes. The weather and the isolation play such a big part .. I can feel the cold as I read it. I‘m just at the part with Mattie and her red ribbon and the red jar is down from the shelf .. a wedding present .. I‘m hooked 2w
Leftcoastzen I found as well the sense of downward mobility, farming & the mill not meeting their needs . Even the family house is smaller now then when the family was more prosperous.Did I remember that right.?.🤔 2w
Louise Such great comments from all of you! I bought the book but didn‘t get to it. We have to move out by May 31st and are still looking for housing we can afford in this inflated market. Say a prayer for us, dear reader friends, that we find our way. May all be well. 💗 2w
Lcsmcat @Leftcoastzen Yes, the downward mobility has been a recurring theme. 2w
Lcsmcat @Louise I‘m so sorry. Sending all the good housing karma your way! 2w
Leftcoastzen @Louise sending you hopes to find reasonable & good housing ! Rents have gone crazy in many parts of the country,just insanity! A friend of mine had to move after being informed his new lease would increase his rent $800 a month , NOT affordable 2w
Leftcoastzen @Cathythoughts I liked the reference to the red ribbon & the red jar.My grandma had the habit of considering items too nice to use. 2w
Louise @Lcsmcat Thank you, Linda! Good housing karma is always welcome! 💗 2w
Louise @Leftcoastzen Thank you for your good wishes, Linda. Yes, it‘s crazy how the prices have skyrocketed. I hope your friend found something nice and also affordable. 🏡 2w
CarolynM Definite Cather vibes for me and very atmospheric. The cold and dark is a real presence. I‘m not feeling much sympathy either @Currey I‘d like to know more about how Ethan and Zeena have reached this point. Why did E decide Z would “lose her identity” in a city? If Z was already suffering before they were married (as suggested by the comment about how she learned her nursing skills) how & why did her demeanour change? Why no communication? 2w
CarolynM I‘m not getting much sense of who Ethan is yet. I‘m intrigued by your comments about him @arubabookwoman @Graywacke I hadn‘t thought about addiction either @Cathythoughts but your suggestion makes a lot of sense @Leftcoastzen I‘d still like to know how she got to this condition, though. 2w
CarolynM @Louise Hope you find a new home soon🤞🍀 2w
Graywacke @CarolynM me too… wondering how Zeena became this person we are seeing. @Louise wish you well with your housing search. 2w
Lcsmcat @CarolynM I wonder how much we‘ll find out about how Ethan and Zeena got to this point too. I remember the twist, but it‘s been so many years, uhm, decades, since I read it that I don‘t remember. 2w
Louise @carolynM @Graywacke Thank you both! 2w
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Ethan Frome | Edith Wharton
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This copy is the one I sullenly maybe read in high school (as a junior?). It has my handwriting, it‘s falling apart, but it‘s somehow still around, 30+ years later, patiently awaiting another visit. I‘ve started it for our #whartonbuddyread

Lcsmcat Cool! 3w
Leftcoastzen 🐶 3w
Cathythoughts Love your copy 👍🏻♥️ I started too ! 3w
Graywacke @Leftcoastzen she‘s a happy lazy pup. 3w
Graywacke @Cathythoughts @Lcsmcat I‘m ready for tomorrow now. A bit slow moving, every word has a purpose. 3w
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Ethan Frome | Edith Wharton
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CarolynM Thanks Linda. Looking forward to it🙂 3w
Cathythoughts Thanks ! I‘m going to try and read this one 👍🏻❤️ 3w
Currey @Lcsmcat I will be reading with you 3w
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Graywacke Looking forward to this. Thanks Linda. (And looks like i need to start thinking about the next book.) 3w
Graywacke I got really confused when, scanning through my edition, i saw chapter 11… until I figured out it was chapter II. 3w
Leftcoastzen Cool ! Thanks for including me! 3w
Lcsmcat @Graywacke 😂 I‘ve done that before! 3w
Leftcoastzen Question, my first time with the group, I‘m supposed to start reading the first part on Saturday or have read the first part by Saturday? 3w
Lcsmcat @Leftcoastzen Have read - although we‘re not draconian about it. 😀 This Saturday we will discuss the first half. But if you haven‘t finished it, you can chime in when you are finished. 3w
Leftcoastzen Thanks ! I‘m sure I can most likely get it read .😃 3w
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