Friday, April 26, 2019

A to Z: Letters to Dead Writers: Edith Wharton

This month I'm writing one post for each letter of the alphabet, all on the theme of "Letters to Dead Writers." You can see my theme reveal post here and learn more about the blogging challenge here.

Today's writer is Edith Wharton

Dear Ms. Wharton,

You broke my heart, one winter when I was about twenty.

With no idea what I letting myself in for, I picked up your novel Ethan Frome. My goodness, but Thomas Hardy has nothing on you when it comes to dark ironies of life and the cruelty of fate.

In literature at least, I have taste for having my heart broken. I like a good, sad story, one that hits me right in the feels. You were a master of it.

Much more recently, I read your Age of Innocence, another tragic love story where two hearts that seem destined to be together are kept apart.

You wrote longing and guilt and feeling trapped so beautifully, capturing the romantic ache of yearning for something you can't have like few artists can.

Some readers make a mistake in overlooking your work, assuming from the covers that it's another stodgy period piece more about corsets and hairstyles than about anything of worth, but about the depths of a person's heart.

It's true that a person could learn a lot about the circles you moved in by reading your novels. You're the main voice the world remembers when it comes to capturing "Old New York." But all that was just the setting in the end. The jewels were in the characters.

Thanks for breaking my heart so breathtakingly,


  1. The older I get the less I want to read stories which don't have a happy ending so I think I would have suggested writing happily ever afters in my letter.

    Visiting from A-Z
    AJ Blythe

  2. Nice tribute. I like Wharton's work (I'm a total classic literature buff) and I find what's most interesting is when I reread her work, I feel differently about it. That happened to me with The House of Mirth. I saw it totally different after reading it again a few years ago. But that's the sign of great literature, I guess - that it causes you to see different things because your perspective on life changes as you grow older and experience more :-).

    Tam May