Monday, 1 November 2010

The ghost stories of Edith Wharton

Another Edith Wharton - they seem to be coming in swift succession, and yet I'm still to read the House of Mirth which I was given or Custom of the Country which I've been lent. Maybe it's turning into an Edith Wharton Autumn here on the VVV.

This time it is The ghost stories of Edith Wharton and they have won me over where her previous novels have failed. I was alerted to the existence of this book by Elaine from Random Jottings, and I swiftly orderd it from the library in order to have it in time for the Halloween weekend. I've been dipping in and out of it over the last few days and have to say that the stories are spooky and chilling, particularly the more that one thinks about them, and absolutely perfect for Halloween reading. My favourite was "All Souls", a creepy tale of mystery where an old woman wakes up and finds her house absolutely deserted, without explanation. When her servants later deny this - what is the mystery that occurred?

Edith Wharton cites Henry James' Turn of the Screw as a strong influence on her writing; although I have not read this novel, I know he is considered one of the leaders of the genre of ghost stories, and I can see that this has obviously filtered down to Wharton.

I LOVED these stories - they drew me in and I cared about the characters far more than in any of her novels. It's only been published once in a modern green Virago edition, and I would certainly buy a copy if I spotted it in a second hand bookshop!


  1. These sound like perfect Hallowe'en reading for next year!

    I'm not sure which volume it is from but I greatly enjoyed Wharton's short story "Roman Fever" when Persephone published it in a Biannually last year.

  2. I haven't read any of Edith Wharton's ghost stories, but maybe I'll have to check some out. I was disappointed in The Turn of the Screw, it developed so slowly that it didn't seem very spooky at the time, but I think Wharton might do it better.