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These 11 spine-tingling tales of the supernatural bring to light the author's interest in the traditional New England ghost story and her fascination with spirits, hauntings, and other phenomena. Fine line-drawings by Laszlo Kubinyi enhance the mysterious and sometimes chilling mood. The lady's maid's bell (1904) The eyes (1910) Afterward (1910) Kerfol (1916) The triumph of nig These 11 spine-tingling tales of the supernatural bring to light the author's interest in the traditional New England ghost story and her fascination with spirits, hauntings, and other phenomena. Fine line-drawings by Laszlo Kubinyi enhance the mysterious and sometimes chilling mood. The lady's maid's bell (1904) The eyes (1910) Afterward (1910) Kerfol (1916) The triumph of night (1914) Miss Mary Pask (1925) Bewitched (1925) Mr Jones (1928) Pomegranate seed (1931) The looking glass (1935) All souls' (1937)


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These 11 spine-tingling tales of the supernatural bring to light the author's interest in the traditional New England ghost story and her fascination with spirits, hauntings, and other phenomena. Fine line-drawings by Laszlo Kubinyi enhance the mysterious and sometimes chilling mood. The lady's maid's bell (1904) The eyes (1910) Afterward (1910) Kerfol (1916) The triumph of nig These 11 spine-tingling tales of the supernatural bring to light the author's interest in the traditional New England ghost story and her fascination with spirits, hauntings, and other phenomena. Fine line-drawings by Laszlo Kubinyi enhance the mysterious and sometimes chilling mood. The lady's maid's bell (1904) The eyes (1910) Afterward (1910) Kerfol (1916) The triumph of night (1914) Miss Mary Pask (1925) Bewitched (1925) Mr Jones (1928) Pomegranate seed (1931) The looking glass (1935) All souls' (1937)

30 review for The Ghost Stories Of Edith Wharton (Virago Modern Classics)

  1. 4 out of 5

    Bill Kerwin

    If you read about ghosts in order to be filled with dread, then Edith Wharton may not be your favorite supernatural author. On the other hand, if you are a fan of elegant realistic fiction but like a few chills from time to time, Wharton's ghost tales may belong at the top of your list. Each of Wharton's stories is a subtle exercise rooted in everyday reality, and the ghostly presences--such as they are--emerge from the nourishing soil that constitutes her finely crafted realism. Many of her sto If you read about ghosts in order to be filled with dread, then Edith Wharton may not be your favorite supernatural author. On the other hand, if you are a fan of elegant realistic fiction but like a few chills from time to time, Wharton's ghost tales may belong at the top of your list. Each of Wharton's stories is a subtle exercise rooted in everyday reality, and the ghostly presences--such as they are--emerge from the nourishing soil that constitutes her finely crafted realism. Many of her stories touch on the cruelty of domestic power relations, not only between husbands and wives, but also between mistresses and their servants. Specters haunt those who once had the power to change things for the better but did not do so, and visit the living not only as a reproach for past sins, but also as a silent exhortation for redress. All the stories here are worth reading, but when Wharton's seriousness of purpose and subtlety of style combine with genuine ghostly thrills, the result is a handful of first-rate ghost stories ("The Eyes, "Afterward," "Bewitched," "Kerfol, "The Pomegranate Seed") that should be on everybody's reading list. "Afterward" is not only the finest tale in this volume: it is also a masterpiece of the form that not only rivals the achievement of Henry James but also deepens and enriches the Jamesian theme of how a richer knowledge of evil often derives from young America's encounter with old Europe. In "Afterward," Wharton shows us that the ghosts that haunt Americans in Europe may not be the ancestral specters inhabiting ancient houses, but rather the embodiments of crimes committed by American businessmen in their "wild cat" days back in the States, crimes that cry out for expiation.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Paul

    Edith Wharton may be an unlikely ghost story writer, but she does it rather well. As you would expect they are well written and have subtlety and nuance and don’t have the gore and bludgeoning of some modern horror. There is a sprinkling of the gothic, a few rambling and creepy houses and a variety of settings: England, the eastern US states, France and the desert in an unspecified Middle Eastern country. Some of the tales aren’t really ghost stories, but explore everyday moral dilemmas and huma Edith Wharton may be an unlikely ghost story writer, but she does it rather well. As you would expect they are well written and have subtlety and nuance and don’t have the gore and bludgeoning of some modern horror. There is a sprinkling of the gothic, a few rambling and creepy houses and a variety of settings: England, the eastern US states, France and the desert in an unspecified Middle Eastern country. Some of the tales aren’t really ghost stories, but explore everyday moral dilemmas and human conflicts in an innovative way. Most of the stories take place in daylight (or even artificial light) amidst modern technology (modern for when they were written). Several of the stories do explore the relationship between servants and their employers and the tensions between the two. Locks and keys play a significant role. All Souls is an interesting Halloween story that makes more sense when you know it was written at the end of Wharton’s life, the last story she wrote before her death. The sense of helplessness, collapsing competence and fear of the unknown are very telling. There are some interesting explorations of the nature of marriage (Pomegranate Seed in particular) and relations between the sexes, although Bewitched has an interesting take on the sexual motivations of men and their ability to control them. Wharton herself said that she did not believe in ghosts, but she feared them; and what is needed here is imagination rather than belief. What makes Wharton’s stories interesting is the usual supernatural dread filtered through scepticism. These ghost stories often follow a familiar format but Wharton does manage to subvert the genre in unusual ways.

  3. 5 out of 5

    mark monday

    Edith Wharton, delicate yet cruel, casts a cold eye on the misdeeds and toxic egos of men, and an occasionally more empathetic one on women and their struggles, in this collection of beautifully written stories. Precise prose: each sentence has a crystalline clarity, a careful distillation of words and ideas. Gorgeously atmospheric imagery: Wharton knows her way around sprawling manors of course, but has equal talent at evoking lonely moorlands, quiet roads at dusk, even a nearly empty fortress Edith Wharton, delicate yet cruel, casts a cold eye on the misdeeds and toxic egos of men, and an occasionally more empathetic one on women and their struggles, in this collection of beautifully written stories. Precise prose: each sentence has a crystalline clarity, a careful distillation of words and ideas. Gorgeously atmospheric imagery: Wharton knows her way around sprawling manors of course, but has equal talent at evoking lonely moorlands, quiet roads at dusk, even a nearly empty fortress in the Middle East. The sort of menacing ambiguity in which Robert Aickman would eventually specialize: there is no jarring, thudding obviousness in any of the horrors. A rather sour tang of misanthropy that makes the collection less than perfect - often coming out in some unnecessarily mean-spirited descriptions of various characters. And yet a clear genius in showing the depth and relatability of her characters: many times I saw myself in these disparate protagonists, be they men or women, young or old. My favorite stories: "All Souls'" was written the year of Wharton's death. An unnerving and surprisingly strange story about an inexplicable loss of time, of sorts. This portrait of an older woman recovering from an injury, waking up in a house where everyone else seems to have disappeared, was both prosaic and nightmarish. "Kerfol" has a young man visiting a French manor, a tragic tale within a tale about a wife suffering appalling emotional abuse from her noble husband, the well-deserved, bloody end of said nobleman, and a winsome yet eerily silent band of diverse ghost dogs who haunt the manor grounds. "Pomegranate Seed" has an unhealthy attachment between living husband and dead but still quite controlling wife. It also has the most resonant title in the collection - and the myth the title comes from isn't even mentioned in the story. Loved both the subtle irony of that title and how it enhances the mystery of the tale. and especially "Mr. Jones", which includes many features of prior stories: an independent, not-so-young heiress and a sprawling, creepily underpopulated mansion, a menacingly passive-aggressive ghost, and another horrific tale within a tale of an emotionally abused wife... and yet for me this was the most striking of the stories. All of those elements coalesced into perfection, delivering a story ripe for contemplation. Plus an especially ghastly murder at the end, when the ghost - in a fit of temper - becomes rather less than passive. ⌛ I actually read the Appleton Century hardcover edition of this collection, published in 1937. I was unable to find this book on Goodreads, so had to go with the collected stories published in 1973, eye roll. Oh the petty things that frustrate me to no end! I think I would make a good ghost.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Sara

    I seem to love all things Wharton, but I must say she outdoes herself with these strange and eerie tales of ghostly happenings. They are all quite well done, but there are a few that are beyond excellent. What makes most of them work is the lack of surety that they could not all be explained away with a little logical and clear thinking. Of course, here in the real world, that is how ghostly encounters always are, inexplicable phenomena or explained away--and those of us who have them are never I seem to love all things Wharton, but I must say she outdoes herself with these strange and eerie tales of ghostly happenings. They are all quite well done, but there are a few that are beyond excellent. What makes most of them work is the lack of surety that they could not all be explained away with a little logical and clear thinking. Of course, here in the real world, that is how ghostly encounters always are, inexplicable phenomena or explained away--and those of us who have them are never truly sure what we have seen, and doubt our own senses. The Lady’s Maid’s Bell gets one immediately into the gothic feel and atmosphere that carries over into all the other stories. Perhaps my least favorite, but still, very well done. The Eyes This made me think of Poe’s Tell Tale Heart and the way the narrator there feels the old man staring at him, for this is a tale more about what is going on internally than externally. Afterward Really loved this one, perhaps because the setting was so well pictured that I felt as if I were inside this story participating. There is a building sense of doom approaching that begins with a chance comment from a minor character and intensifies as soon as the main action of the story begins. This is a true ghost story, in that I never asked myself if the ghost was real. Kerfol This is an very atypical ghost tale; the ghost is not human. Enough said, but another tale that is fraught with the gothic setting and mood. The Triumph of Night What if you could see what no one else in the room saw and it spelled doom for someone else? What would you do? Wharton deals with that situation with a bit of mystery and a touch of terror. Miss Mary Pask This one almost felt more lighthearted to me, as it was more about perceptions than realities. Bewitched My hands down favorite of the bunch; five-plus stars. This story put me in mind of the Salem Witch Trials because, while it operates on two levels, it might well just be about ignorance and a willingness to ascribe to the occult what is done by man. Superstition can be a very dangerous thing. Mr. Jones The most straightforward of the tales, but set in a masterfully spooky environment. Pomegranate Seed More than one new wife has been haunted by her predecessor, but few quite like this. The Looking Glass A bit about vanity and creating ghosts. Liked the ending and the ambiguity it provided. All Souls’ This one felt like a classic horror film--don’t open the door!

  5. 5 out of 5

    Blair

    I loved this collection of short stories. The writing is absolutely excellent - the perfect balance of intrigue, satire and subtlety, with a hint of humour. The tales are just macabre enough to hold your attention without being too obvious or sensational, and they're all the perfect length. My favourite thing about many of these stories was that they are very open-ended, open to all kinds of interpretation - the ghostly, the metaphorical, the satirical. 'The Eyes' was genuinely frightening, asid I loved this collection of short stories. The writing is absolutely excellent - the perfect balance of intrigue, satire and subtlety, with a hint of humour. The tales are just macabre enough to hold your attention without being too obvious or sensational, and they're all the perfect length. My favourite thing about many of these stories was that they are very open-ended, open to all kinds of interpretation - the ghostly, the metaphorical, the satirical. 'The Eyes' was genuinely frightening, aside from being brilliantly original, and I thought 'Kerfol', with its (literally) haunting dogs, was fantastic. I took this out from the library but will probably buy it at some point as I know I will want to read these stories again.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Connie G

    Most of Edith Wharton's ghost stories have a sense of ambiguity. Is the supernatural at work, or did people misinterpret real events? Wharton writes her works with a Gothic atmosphere--foggy nights, creepy old houses, strange servants, and unreliable narrators. The weight of a guilty conscience leads to supernatural events in some cases. Women are victims of controlling men in a few stories, but women manipulate the men in others. Wharton's writing is elegant, and she exhibits a deep understandi Most of Edith Wharton's ghost stories have a sense of ambiguity. Is the supernatural at work, or did people misinterpret real events? Wharton writes her works with a Gothic atmosphere--foggy nights, creepy old houses, strange servants, and unreliable narrators. The weight of a guilty conscience leads to supernatural events in some cases. Women are victims of controlling men in a few stories, but women manipulate the men in others. Wharton's writing is elegant, and she exhibits a deep understanding of people's emotions, strengths, and failings. This collection included 11 ghost stories. Great storytelling!

  7. 5 out of 5

    Classic reverie

    This is an interesting collection of 11 Ghost Stories which are short stories written by Edith Wharton spanning from 1909 through 1937. The following stories are listed & a brief review. All these stories are a different kind of ghost story which have outcomes with uncertainty & bewildering. Many stories have you wondering how it will end & your own imagination will have to suffice. The Lady's Maid Bell- 1902 Hartley is in need of a job after recovering from a lingering illness. Due to this many This is an interesting collection of 11 Ghost Stories which are short stories written by Edith Wharton spanning from 1909 through 1937. The following stories are listed & a brief review. All these stories are a different kind of ghost story which have outcomes with uncertainty & bewildering. Many stories have you wondering how it will end & your own imagination will have to suffice. The Lady's Maid Bell- 1902 Hartley is in need of a job after recovering from a lingering illness. Due to this many not wanting her help but she finds employment as a Lady's maid where many maids don't last a fortnight. Afterward - 1909 An American couple seek life in a castle in England occupied by ghosts unseen. Living there for many months without a ghost in sight, they are disappointed but should they have left well enough alone? The Eyes- 1910 Ghost stories are being told by old Culwin's friends but it becomes clear that Culwin has seen some of his own! The Triumph of Night- 1914 Faxon on his way to his new employer finds a friend in young Rainer who is quite sickly. Faxon starts seeing a dark sinister man not seen by others that makes him wonder about his friends safety. Kerfol- 1916 What are Yves de Cornault's secrets regarding his wife & the little dogs who guard the castle? Bewitched- 1925 Three men are summoned to help Saul Ruthedge & his wife right something that seems impossible. Miss Mary Pask- 1925 Visiting a relative in England for a friend who is found dead but seems alive at night only & without a single visitor. Mr. Jones- 1928 Lady Jane Lynke inherits the Bells estate but Mr. Jones is invasive caretaker which seems quite not what he seems. Pomegranate Seed- 1928 Charlotte's husbands receives mysterious letters which her husband refuses to explain & leads to upset. The Looking Glass- 1935 Mrs. Attlee helps out a wealthy friend to help lessen her pain. All Souls- 1937 Sara Clauburn stays at Whitegate after her husband's death & has an experience which seems to be the spookiest of all the stories to me. One excerpt from Wharton's preface-I found this interesting from her perspective on cinema/movies on the effect on the readers & books. Love this quote! "But in a few years more perhaps there may be; for, deep within us as the ghost instinct lurks, I seem to see it being gradually atrophied by those two world-wide enemies of imagination, the wireless and the cinema. To a generation for whom everything which used to nourish the imagination because it had to be won by an effort, and slowly assimilated, is now served up cooked, seasoned and chopped into bits, the creative faculty (for reading should be a creative act as writing) is rapidly withering, together with the power of sustained attention; and the world which used to be so grand ala charte des lampes is diminishing in inverse ratio to the new means of spanning it; so that the more we add to its surface the smaller it becomes." Excerpt from The Triumph of Night "Oh, facts-what are facts? Just the way a thing happens to look at a given minute..."

  8. 5 out of 5

    Kay

    Some might feel that Wharton was out of her element here, but I found these perfectly jewel-like tales. They are, as is to be expected, stylistically elegant -- Wharton doesn't lower her standards just because she's writing in a sometimes-maligned genre. These are classic "literary" ghost tales, best appreciated for the subtle shadings of tone and rich evocation of atmosphere. There are (this being Wharton, after all) heavy infusions of social class and the weight this imposes on the central cha Some might feel that Wharton was out of her element here, but I found these perfectly jewel-like tales. They are, as is to be expected, stylistically elegant -- Wharton doesn't lower her standards just because she's writing in a sometimes-maligned genre. These are classic "literary" ghost tales, best appreciated for the subtle shadings of tone and rich evocation of atmosphere. There are (this being Wharton, after all) heavy infusions of social class and the weight this imposes on the central characters. In order to fully appreciate these stories, readers need to let them unfold gradually and not feel impatient with what may at times seem peripheral elements. It all comes together; the patient reader is rewarded. Personal favorites in this collection include "Afterward" and "The Lady's Maid."

  9. 5 out of 5

    Carla Remy

    I quite like Edith Wharton's writing, but not every story here penetrated with me. A couple of them did. Kerfol is very emotional, with the ghosts of the murdered dogs. I really loved The Pomegranate Seed, with its mysterious mythological title, vague creepiness and open ended.ness I quite like Edith Wharton's writing, but not every story here penetrated with me. A couple of them did. Kerfol is very emotional, with the ghosts of the murdered dogs. I really loved The Pomegranate Seed, with its mysterious mythological title, vague creepiness and open ended.ness

  10. 4 out of 5

    T.D. Whittle

    My husband and I enjoy reading Edith Wharton stories to each other, and in fact have managed to get through all, or at least nearly all, of her shorter works in this manner. I love her writing and these stories are no exception but, as other GR members have mentioned, these stories are not horrifying and some are not even scary. They are simply great stories, some of them chilling and others sad.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Sandy

    Perhaps because she is one of the most esteemed writers of the 20th century, Edith Wharton may not be immediately associated with the genre of horror. Today, she is probably best remembered for her novels "The House of Mirth" (1905) and "The Age of Innocence" (1920), which latter book copped her the Pulitzer Prize, as well as for her classic novella from 1911, "Ethan Frome," a staple reading assignment for all English majors. In novel after novel, Wharton examined the members of the upper crust Perhaps because she is one of the most esteemed writers of the 20th century, Edith Wharton may not be immediately associated with the genre of horror. Today, she is probably best remembered for her novels "The House of Mirth" (1905) and "The Age of Innocence" (1920), which latter book copped her the Pulitzer Prize, as well as for her classic novella from 1911, "Ethan Frome," a staple reading assignment for all English majors. In novel after novel, Wharton examined the members of the upper crust in turn-of-the-century NYC, a society and a town that she knew well by experience. But as she would reveal in her autobiography "A Backward Glance," the author was a big fan of the ghost story as well, a shivery pot in which she would ultimately dip her quill on any number of occasions. After all, her close personal friend, Henry James, had been hugely successful with his chilling novella of 1898, "The Turn of the Screw," so why not herself? Happily, Scribner's 1973 collection "The Ghost Stories of Edith Wharton" brings together 11 of the author's efforts in the field of horror to winning effect. Prefaced by an introduction by the author herself, and featuring beautiful illustrations for each story by one Laszlo Kubinyi, the book may prove a real eye-opener for readers who'd thought they knew this author well. The 11 stories in the collection were released over a 35-year period, from 1902 to 1937, and take place in a wide range of locales; indeed, very few of the stories transpire in the NYC most commonly associated with Wharton's writing. All, as might be expected from an author of Ms. Wharton's stature, are meticulously crafted and beautifully written. And while none of the stories is especially gruesome (especially when compared to the shock and gore tactics frequently employed by many horror practitioners today), all of the tales here are highly atmospheric, and many of the pieces do indeed manage to chill. In some of the stories, the reader is required to read between the lines so as to understand what has transpired; others are more explicitly spelled out. But every tale still manages to impress, in one way or another; this is a very pleasing collection, over all. As to the stories themselves, the collection kicks off with the earliest piece, chronologically: 1902's "The Lady’s Maid's Bell." The tale is narrated to us by young Alice Hartley, a typhoid convalescent who begins a new job as a maid in a "big and gloomy" house on the Hudson, in upstate New York. But Alice's life is soon beset by the ghost of the former maid, Emma Saxon, who rings her bell in the middle of the night and seems to be endeavoring to communicate some message. In the story's most chilling scene, Emma leads Alice through a dreary field in the snow, on some mysterious mission. By the tale's end, the reader may feel that he or she has not been given enough information to solve this puzzle, although a residual chill surely remains. In "The Eyes," which transpires mainly in England and Rome, an aged man of the world, author Andrew Culwin, tells his cronies of the one ghostly experience that he had witnessed; namely, a pair of eyes that would stare at him, at intervals, in the dark, over a period of some years. During this time, Culwin had treated his fiancée callously and taken up with a young and inexperienced writer whom he was nurturing. (The gay subtext in the story is quite pronounced.) But what is the cause of those damnable, staring orbs? Once again, the reader is required to look between the lines, especially regarding the tale's final two pages. No wonder one of Culwin’s auditors mentions being "disquieted by a sense of incompleteness".... In "Afterward," an American couple, Mary and Ned Boyne, moves to Dorsetshire and takes over a Tudor home that is supposedly haunted by a most unusual ghost: one whose presence is never known till long after its appearance. And once settled into their rustic abode, named Lyng, Ned begins to act nervously, a mysterious and dead-voiced stranger comes calling, and Ned ultimately vanishes, leading to a rather shocking revelation concerning his business dealings, as well as a fulfillment of the ghostly legend. In all, a very satisfying story, expertly paced and handled. "Kerfol" presents us with a most unique group of ghosts...of the canine variety! Here, a man visits an abandoned castle in Brittany and comes across the spectral mutts, who stand and stare at him dolefully. A little investigation reveals their tragic background, in a tale that stretches all the way back to the early 1600s, involving the cruel Baron de Cornault and his miserably neglected wife. This is a wonderful story, meticulously detailed and pleasingly ghoulish. Wharton makes but a single misstep here--when she refers to the Baron's "widowhood," rather than "widowerhood"--but this one boo-boo only seems to set off the perfection of the rest. In "The Triumph of Night," a young man is marooned at a train station during the height of a New Hampshire blizzard and accepts an invitation from an even younger man to spend the night at his uncle's home, that uncle being the renowned writer John Lavington. But after being comfortably ensconced and meeting his famous host, our protagonist begins to see a doppelganger of Lavington, seemingly trying to communicate some message. A bleak, atmospheric and wintry tale, conflating a will and (again) shady business dealings, this story concludes with the forces of benevolence thwarted, and the evils that men do triumphant.... "Miss Mary Pask" finds Wharton at her most playful, offering up a chilling tale and then pulling the rug out from under the reader's expectations. This story also takes place in Brittany, and finds our narrator about to visit the sister of a close friend, the Mary Pask of the title, who was "like hundreds of other dowdy old maids, cheerful derelicts content with their innumerable little substitutes for living." But just after knocking on her door, our narrator recalls that Mary had died the previous year...a circumstance that does not change the fact that the deceased woman shortly descends the stairs and ushers him in, in this very cleverly put-together tale. In "Bewitched," which takes place in the Anywheresville of Hemlock County, a snowbound rural area reminiscent of the one in "Ethan Frome," a small community is alarmed when one of its prominent citizens is seen trysting with Ora Brand...a young woman who had died over a year before! Wharton perfectly captures the speech patterns and thought processes of the characters in this isolated backwater, and her wintry locale is once again expertly rendered. And then matters grow quite grim indeed, when Ora's father, Sylvester, grabs his revolver and sets forth to hunt his ghostly daughter down.... Our next tale, "Mr. Jones," tells of the Lady Jane Lynke, who inherits a mansion in the English countryside, in Kent. She learns from the oddball servants there that the house is overseen and managed by one Mr. Jones, who is very old and frail and thus never ventures from his room. Before long, Lady Jane discerns the ghostly figure of an old man in the mansion's "blue room," after which the tragic story of another neglected wife, back in the 1820s, comes to light. As in "The Lady's Maid's Bell," here, even death is no barrier for the dedicated servant who wants to give eternal assistance to his or her master or mistress.... Next up is the story that turned out to be this reader's personal favorite of the collection, "Pomegranate Seed." Here, NYC newlywed Charlotte Ashby grows increasingly alarmed by a series of letters, which always arrive in the same grayish envelopes and addressed to her husband Kenneth. Kenneth had been showing signs of mounting strain after receiving these missives, a fact that becomes understandable when Charlotte finally recognizes the handwriting on the envelopes: that of Kenneth's first wife, Elsie, who had died some time before! Featuring beautifully written and realistic dialogue, great tension and a heartbreaker of an ending, this really is one very impressive piece of work. "The Looking Glass" features no actual hauntings or ghosts per se; still, there is a made-up one to be had here. In this story, an old grandmother, living in a NJ suburb, tells her granddaughter of the time when she used to be a professional masseuse, and of a wealthy and vain woman who she used to treat. To make this dowager happy, our narrator had pretended to be able to communicate with the spirit world, and thus contact a romantic interest of the matron's youth; a young man who had gone down on the Titanic. Despite the lack of chills and overt frights, this remains a touching story, well told, in which Wharton seemingly admonishes those who are overly preoccupied with their fading beauty, while at the same time showing them some sympathy. As the grandmother says, "For you and me, and thousands like us, beginning to grow old is like going from a bright warm room to one a little less warm and bright; but to a beauty like Mrs. Clingsland it's like being pushed out of an illuminated ballroom, all flowers and chandeliers, into the winter night and the snow...." In the collection's final offering, "All Souls'," an elderly widow, Sara Clayburn, encounters a strange woman while taking her afternoon walk by the Connecticut River. Immediately after, she twists her ankle on a frozen puddle and is confined to her bed. But her ordeal grows even greater when she awakens in the middle of the night to find all her servants gone missing, and a preternatural silence covering the entire world. Sara's experiences during the next 36 hours are quite nerve racking, and could well have served as the basis for a perfectly respectable episode of TV's "The Twilight Zone." They bring this collection to a very satisfactory conclusion, indeed. So there you have it...11 finely crafted and wonderfully atmospheric tales of ghosts, hauntings, the deceased, and ancient tragedies from the pen of a true American master. I read this marvelous bunch of stories over the course of a week during mid-October and found them to be a perfect accompaniment to the season. "The Ghost Stories of Edith Wharton" is more than highly recommended.... (By the way, this review originally appeared on the FanLit website at http://www.fantasyliterature.com/ … a most ideal destination for all fans of the type of ghost story as written by Edith Wharton....)

  12. 4 out of 5

    Sue

    Edith Wharton has written what I term "genteel" ghost stories, with a variation in success if achieving a sense of mood and dread are the measure. There are several that I specifically enjoyed, "Afterward", "Kerfol", "The Triumph of Night", "Mr Jones". All are well written of course (it seems silly of me to judge Wharton). If I judge them as ghost stories then some don't seem as successful. "Eyes" in particular seems a let down (as discussed in the story section). Overall though I find the storie Edith Wharton has written what I term "genteel" ghost stories, with a variation in success if achieving a sense of mood and dread are the measure. There are several that I specifically enjoyed, "Afterward", "Kerfol", "The Triumph of Night", "Mr Jones". All are well written of course (it seems silly of me to judge Wharton). If I judge them as ghost stories then some don't seem as successful. "Eyes" in particular seems a let down (as discussed in the story section). Overall though I find the stories a success in the "genteel" setting.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Sarah

    I got off to a rough start with this one because I didn't like the first two stories. I persevered and I'm very glad I did because I enjoyed these stories tremendously. There was a remarkable range of types of stories and causes of the events. I really should read the deliciously creepy All Souls' every year on Halloween. I got off to a rough start with this one because I didn't like the first two stories. I persevered and I'm very glad I did because I enjoyed these stories tremendously. There was a remarkable range of types of stories and causes of the events. I really should read the deliciously creepy All Souls' every year on Halloween.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Scott

    These stories were okay, if a bit dry, and unmemorable for the most part. The exception for me was "Afterward," which I had read before and seen dramatized. It involves a married couple that intentionally purchases a home with ghost included. The caveat: They won't know they have encountered the ghost until long afterward. Classic. These stories were okay, if a bit dry, and unmemorable for the most part. The exception for me was "Afterward," which I had read before and seen dramatized. It involves a married couple that intentionally purchases a home with ghost included. The caveat: They won't know they have encountered the ghost until long afterward. Classic.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Cynda

    Good stories. Well told. Wide variety. I liked 9 of the 11 stories. List of the 11 stories. "The Eyes" "Afterward" "Kerfol" "Triumphs of Night" "Miss Mary Pask" "Bewitched" "Mr Jones" "Pomegranate Seeds" "The Looking Glass" "All Souls" I did not like "Triumphs of Night". Some in buddy read group liked it, and others did not. But it is always good to have a bad one in the bunch to show as contrast to the good. What I would like to see as a movie: "Miss Pask" "Pomegranate Seeds" "All Souls" (The story is named for Good stories. Well told. Wide variety. I liked 9 of the 11 stories. List of the 11 stories. "The Eyes" "Afterward" "Kerfol" "Triumphs of Night" "Miss Mary Pask" "Bewitched" "Mr Jones" "Pomegranate Seeds" "The Looking Glass" "All Souls" I did not like "Triumphs of Night". Some in buddy read group liked it, and others did not. But it is always good to have a bad one in the bunch to show as contrast to the good. What I would like to see as a movie: "Miss Pask" "Pomegranate Seeds" "All Souls" (The story is named for the wring holiday/holy day. Any moviemakers should consider changing the name of their movie.) I have liked some of Edith Wharton' novels. Now I know that I will like some of her ghost stories too.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Jack Tripper

    Cover of the 1976 Popular Library mass-market. You can tell it's post-Exorcist, as it definitely imitates the style, as did a lot of horror or occult-themed paperbacks of the day. Cover of the 1976 Popular Library mass-market. You can tell it's post-Exorcist, as it definitely imitates the style, as did a lot of horror or occult-themed paperbacks of the day.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Mary Durrant

    I loved these stories. Not too scary more of was that a ghost or a real person! Beautifully written.

  18. 5 out of 5

    Tristram Shandy

    Who Are the “Real” Ghosts? Up to now I have never read anything by Edith Wharton but after these 15 fascinating ghost stories Mrs. Wharton is definitely on my reading list. I would be hard put to choose my favourite from among those tales of the supernatural but if I had to make a choice, I would probably vote for “Bewitched”, where a married farmer is haunted by the ghost of a young woman with whom he seems to be carrying on an affair. (view spoiler)[Or is it not a ghost at all but the young gir Who Are the “Real” Ghosts? Up to now I have never read anything by Edith Wharton but after these 15 fascinating ghost stories Mrs. Wharton is definitely on my reading list. I would be hard put to choose my favourite from among those tales of the supernatural but if I had to make a choice, I would probably vote for “Bewitched”, where a married farmer is haunted by the ghost of a young woman with whom he seems to be carrying on an affair. (view spoiler)[Or is it not a ghost at all but the young girl’s sister? (hide spoiler)] Having made my choice, I am already wondering why I did not pick “All Souls’”, or “Afterward”, or “The Eyes” or “Pomegranate Seed” because they all rank among the finest ghost fiction I have read, and I have read a lot of ghost stories in my life. Edith Wharton’s stories remind me of Henry James’s The Turn of the Screw but also of the haunting tales of M.R. James in that they conjure up indirect horror. In your traditional ghost story, the spectres often have explicable motives, e.g. redressing old wrongs, and this often tones down the effect of horror, which is based on the knowledge that our familiar patterns of reasoning won’t get us very far. Simultaneously, Wharton’s stories are not just meant to chill the marrow of our spines but they also seem to address social wrongs: Most of the stories are focused on relationship problems, on exacting and jealous husbands, on dominant and controlling wives, on class distinctions between servants and their masters – “The Lady’s Maid’s Bell” and “All Souls’” – and on people who have lost their ability to aptly interact with their surroundings as they are stalemated by their adherence to social conventions. Ironically, some of the flesh-and-blood characters in Wharton’s stories are more ghostly, or at least as ghostly, as the Wanderers from Beyond she invites into our vespertine reading hours. Anyone who is interested in subtle, breath-taking ghost stories should read Edith Wharton’s.

  19. 5 out of 5

    Doug

    [EDIT: Note, if this pops back up in my feed as some new thing...Goodreads seems to be having issues with multiple editions of a book and somehow marked both the paperback and kindle versions of read at the same time (which is, technically, true) and I was trying to not cheat on the "challenge" so I've been trying to get it to combine my reading, and it was glitchy, so I had to sort of delete one instance of the review so the other one could stand alone...and who knows what will happen next] I'm [EDIT: Note, if this pops back up in my feed as some new thing...Goodreads seems to be having issues with multiple editions of a book and somehow marked both the paperback and kindle versions of read at the same time (which is, technically, true) and I was trying to not cheat on the "challenge" so I've been trying to get it to combine my reading, and it was glitchy, so I had to sort of delete one instance of the review so the other one could stand alone...and who knows what will happen next] I'm not sure if there is a best way to approach this book. Which is quite good, by the way. Not the best ghost stories, but good stories generally written with skill and great pacing and at least a couple manage to hit something like true spookiness. She admits, in her preface, that what triggers one person vis-à-vis a ghost story might leave another unaffected, but even in that regard one should not be mining these for pure spookums (if one tries, they will be a bit disappointed). She is slightly playing with the slowburn ghost story the same way some musicians play with jazz while also playing jazz, if that makes sense. The overall impression is stories from a transitional era: between the traditional ghost story and the more modern type (which is a misnomer, really, since a lot of ghost stories written nowadays are more traditional than, say, something Henry James or later M.R. James or definitely something Oliver Onions or Robert Aickman might write). Her voice is not unique, per se, but it is also personal to her and her writing. Few to none of the games she plays are utterly groundbreaking, even for the era, but they are more to the front of development than behind the curve. Like I said, no one best way to appreciate this. Mostly, read it for what it is: Edith Wharton's contribution to a somewhat full body of ghostly works, and one that stands out from the vast majority in terms of quality and spirit (no pun intended, but also pun intended). I first found this book some years ago (maybe 12ish?) and read "Pomegranate Seed" and that gave me a mixed impression of the book. Upon reread, I found elements of that story quite effective and the sort of punch at the end all the better because how faint it is (read her preface afterwards for something of a humorous anecdote relating to readers' reactions to the mechanics of the story). At the time, though, I was three knuckles deep in the more Leisure Horror flavor of horror and so subtlety was not necessarily what I was looking for in my horror reading (though Leisure did help to catapult my reading interests more firmly towards Ramsey Campbell and some others, like Douglas Clegg, that eventually set me on a path to preferring more careful spooks over loud ones). When I first read it, I had the impression of, "She's just retreading old stories, meh," and somewhat that is right. Few of her horror tropes are exceptionally different than other, previous horror trope - someone comes to a house and has a visitation or some folks sit around a fireplace and tell about their experiences or someone has a strange encounter and reads some old papers explaining it - and you would be possibly right to suggest that her command of the tropes is lesser than other authors. In that regard, if you approach it as such, you might find it lackluster and overlong for the stories it is telling, for Wharton tells no tale in eight pages when she can instead tell it in thirty (or more). However, working through this over a month and mostly giving myself downtime between stories to think about them, and now with more of a mindset to read more subtle stories and to pluck out elements in-between the spooks, I find myself appreciating her style much more. Take the first one as an example. On the surface, it is a perfectly boilerplate story about a new servant in an old house seeing some questionable stuff - sickly wife, neglectful (and abusive) husband, an attempt at a tryst, and a ghost - and eventually there's some death and some interacting with the ghost and nothing groundbreaking. And while it is the weakest story in the collection (though "All Souls'" tries to tie it by having a...twist of an ending that sours the moody set up that preceded) you still get more out of it by thinking through why certain folks, including the ghost, acted they way they did. Other stories are even more interesting when it comes to plucking out those details. In some, like "Afterward" or "Pomegranate Seed", all the details and motivations are given, but there are still elements the reader must co-create with Wharton (a fact she hints at in the preface) to understand the precise outcome more fully. Even in those like "Mr. Jones" or "The Looking Glass" (the latter being one of two or three stories that might be perfectly non-ghostly in a basic reading), where motivations and outcome are both given, there is enjoyment to be had in Wharton's characterization and prose and restraint. This is a book in which there are delights to being a more active participant. Like I said, it is good. Quite so. Full of great little moments. I doubt Wharton will ever be considered one of the true greats in the genre, but she deserves more recognition. One does long for stories to be a little more compact, here or there, and maybe a tad more adventurous, but she has still taken a few trite ideas and made something interesting out of them.

  20. 4 out of 5

    Janelle

    Well written atmospheric ghost stories, not overly scary but Wharton leaves plenty of mystery so the supernatural is always the possible answer.

  21. 5 out of 5

    Robert Adam Gilmour

    There's quite a few tales about people waiting for an absent person to return and wondering if they'll never return, as repetitive as that might be, these are probably the best stories in the collection. There's a humorous non-horror story that Wharton seems to regret writing (keep in mind the contents of this book varies in different versions, I have the 2009 Wordsworth version) but it has an ecstatic description of a church and I liked the way she compares women to houses with lots of rooms. W There's quite a few tales about people waiting for an absent person to return and wondering if they'll never return, as repetitive as that might be, these are probably the best stories in the collection. There's a humorous non-horror story that Wharton seems to regret writing (keep in mind the contents of this book varies in different versions, I have the 2009 Wordsworth version) but it has an ecstatic description of a church and I liked the way she compares women to houses with lots of rooms. Wharton mocks some of her characters a bit much, I've never liked it when characters seem to be like punching bags that represent people the writer doesn't like. "Kerfol" is probably my favourite of the lot. This is a pretty good collection but I don't really love any of the stories. I have a fondness for some of them so I'll give this a gentle recommendation.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Lissa

    On the other hand, Edith Wharton is a fantastic twentieth century author. Though I find her full length books a bit meandering, she is the master of the short story. (I have similar feelings about Henry James.) All of these ghost stories are interesting, easy to read, and paint a fabulous picture of life in the early twentieth century in New England and abroad. Even if you couldn't quite stomach The Age of Innocence or The House of Mirth, any collection of her stories is worth a second look. On the other hand, Edith Wharton is a fantastic twentieth century author. Though I find her full length books a bit meandering, she is the master of the short story. (I have similar feelings about Henry James.) All of these ghost stories are interesting, easy to read, and paint a fabulous picture of life in the early twentieth century in New England and abroad. Even if you couldn't quite stomach The Age of Innocence or The House of Mirth, any collection of her stories is worth a second look.

  23. 5 out of 5

    Ashley

    These stories are somewhat clever, but not very scary. The only story that I found even remotely scary was about a French chateau that was haunted by dogs. I know it sounds stupid, but it kind of creeped me out. However, the rest of the stories were pretty predictable--they might have scared you if you were living in 1910 and reading them by candlelight, but they're not going to scare you in today's world. These stories are somewhat clever, but not very scary. The only story that I found even remotely scary was about a French chateau that was haunted by dogs. I know it sounds stupid, but it kind of creeped me out. However, the rest of the stories were pretty predictable--they might have scared you if you were living in 1910 and reading them by candlelight, but they're not going to scare you in today's world.

  24. 4 out of 5

    Margaret

    I found several of these to be rather anti-climactic, but the longer, more character-driven stories worked really well: "Afterward", about a husband and wife who buy an old country estate with a ghost they won't know about until "long, long afterward"; "The Triumph of Night", in which a doppelganger threatens an ill young man; and "The Pomegranate Seed", a chilling tale of a second marriage and a first wife who won't let go. I found several of these to be rather anti-climactic, but the longer, more character-driven stories worked really well: "Afterward", about a husband and wife who buy an old country estate with a ghost they won't know about until "long, long afterward"; "The Triumph of Night", in which a doppelganger threatens an ill young man; and "The Pomegranate Seed", a chilling tale of a second marriage and a first wife who won't let go.

  25. 4 out of 5

    Suzanne

    I always enjoy her writing, but this sort of genre-thing is not what Edith does best. Read House of Mirth instead, and Age of Innocence. Then House of Mirth again.

  26. 5 out of 5

    Jessie Morford

    Read as a part of a postal book club. My first Wharton and not characteristic of her other writing, I gather. I am not much of a horror fan but I do enjoy suspense and stories that might involve the unexplained. In some cases, the stories themselves were unexplained, unresolved, or so open to interpretation it seems there continues to be uncertainty as to what had happened. I enjoyed the atmospheric writing and misdirection or plot twists (not so much plot twists as twists in characters’ ideas of Read as a part of a postal book club. My first Wharton and not characteristic of her other writing, I gather. I am not much of a horror fan but I do enjoy suspense and stories that might involve the unexplained. In some cases, the stories themselves were unexplained, unresolved, or so open to interpretation it seems there continues to be uncertainty as to what had happened. I enjoyed the atmospheric writing and misdirection or plot twists (not so much plot twists as twists in characters’ ideas of what is happening).

  27. 4 out of 5

    Michele

    Her ability to immediately draw you in to a story is just so impressive! She is such a gifted writer. I wanted more with every story I read. Some of the endings seemed terribly abrupt, like she had a word limit or deadline. The truly beautiful thing about a pandemic is when your library is closed and you are forced to read books that have been sitting on your shelf for years. Luckily for me, this was one of those books.

  28. 4 out of 5

    Beth

    edith sure can write a sentence !

  29. 5 out of 5

    Terris

    A nice variety of ghost stories from Edith Wharton, with her wonderful descriptions that make you feel like "you are there"! A nice variety of ghost stories from Edith Wharton, with her wonderful descriptions that make you feel like "you are there"!

  30. 4 out of 5

    Kaion

    One has difficulty imagining Edith Wharton being big into ghost stories, until one realizes what Wharton thought constituted a ghost story is so very schoolmarmy. It's the haunted house equivalent of hanging up some sheets and putting up doleful lights. Under the right suggestion, some may be scared, but most will be hard-pressed to get any suggestion of ghostliness out from the impenetrable coyness of Wharton's prose here. (One pines for the luridness of Poe.) In the better stories of this group One has difficulty imagining Edith Wharton being big into ghost stories, until one realizes what Wharton thought constituted a ghost story is so very schoolmarmy. It's the haunted house equivalent of hanging up some sheets and putting up doleful lights. Under the right suggestion, some may be scared, but most will be hard-pressed to get any suggestion of ghostliness out from the impenetrable coyness of Wharton's prose here. (One pines for the luridness of Poe.) In the better stories of this grouping, Wharton leans on the more familiar ground of the psychological rather than the supernatural. "Pomegranate Seed," the story of a third wife whose husband is being haunted by letters beyond the grave from her deceased predecessor, is another is a long line of Wharton's explorations of marriage anxieties. (One remembers the shock of the doppelganger in the remarriages of "The Other Two", as well as Ellen Olenska as the unspoken third in between Newland and May in The Age of Innocence.) My favorite is "After Holbein", which begins as a familiar satire of an old New York socialite before becoming something stranger. People being psychologically left behind as their gilded society fades away is a common Whartonian motif, but "Holbein" is the first I've encountered that approaches it with the element of physical aging. Underneath its phantasmagorical exterior, there's something surprisingly tender in Wharton's portrait of the last people dancing when the party is over. Rating: 2 stars

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