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Ghosts: Edith Wharton's Gothic Tales cover art

Ghosts: Edith Wharton's Gothic Tales

By: Edith Wharton
Narrated by: Alison Larkin,Jonathan Epstein,Corinna May,Jim Frangione,Tod Randolph
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Summary

Beneath the brilliance that was behind The Age of Innocence and Ethan Frome was a dark side. A dark side which produced magnificent tales of the unseen influences in our lives, such as "Mr. Jones", "The Eyes", "Kerfol", "The Ladie's Maid's Bell", and "The Looking Glass".

©2011 Public Domain/ The Mount Press (P)2011 Bma Studios, The Mount Press

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Good Halloween Read

I like two stories out of the collection most, but all the stories were worth a listen.

4 people found this helpful

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  • Diane
  • 16-10-12

Ghastly Shadows of the Feminine Condition

Perhaps no author can surpass Wharton in delving into the darker corners of the feminine experience. Four of the five stories in this collection are premised on the lingering horror engendered by the harrowing experiences of women ensnared in oppressive circumstances or by their own demons. The fifth, "The Eyes," has more to do with the repercussions on men who touch the lives of women living in silent agony.The conclusion to this tale is particularly unexpected, and it was only after I thought about it for a while that it literally gave me goosebumps--true horror which relies not on gore or violence but strikes at the very core of our own existence.

As always, Wharton's writing is superb and inexorably draws the listener into the gothic atmosphere of these tales. Each story has its own excellent narrator and wonderfully creepy music is employed at various points, enhancing the macabre theme.

28 people found this helpful

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  • Adeliese Baumann
  • 09-12-12

A quintet of eerie tales

After reading Wharton's "The Duchess at Prayer," I looked for more examples of her ghost stories and found this excellent collection.

In the first tale, a young heiress inherits an estate, but before she can settle in to her new life there, she must master the situation involving the caretaker, "Mr. Jones."

In "Kerfol," a man looks at a prospective property in northern France. There he is met with a pack of phantom dogs. Searching for an explanation leads him far into the past where he discovers a tragic love story.

"The Looking Glass," has an aged Mrs. Atlee looking back to her youth when she was a masseuse to wealthy ladies. She is ambivalent as to whether she should regret or excuse "the wrong she did" her benefactor by involving herself in an occult conspiracy.

"The Eyes" finds us in the midst of that old familiar favorite of Wharton and James: gentlemen at brandy and cigars telling tales. The ending is haunting, ambiguous, and likely to stay with one for longer than the rest of these stories.

"The Lady's Maid's Bell," perhaps the best-known of Wharton's ghost stories, revolves around a frail private-duty nurse who finds herself caught up in drama and intrigue during what was expected to be a quiet assignment to care for an affluent, amiable lady patient.

I loved the narrators, music, and selections. I certainly hope we will have more of her ghost stories in the future, presented just as well as these were. May you enjoy them as well.

12 people found this helpful

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  • Christine Ehren
  • 06-02-15

You really can't beat the classics for chills.

What did you love best about Ghosts: Edith Wharton's Gothic Tales?

I love Ms. Wharton's ability to set a scene. Most of us have never lived in a household with servants, or have any idea what that kind of household's routine's are, but within a few short "pages" she can get you right into the life of a lady's maid.

What was one of the most memorable moments of Ghosts: Edith Wharton's Gothic Tales?

I hate to write anything that would be a spoiler, but I love the way she essentially draws a word portrait for each individual dog.

What about the narrators’s performance did you like?

It seemed like there was a group of narrators, each narrator chosen according to the work, almost like a theatrical performance or a radio play. It was really really well done.

If you were to make a film of this book, what would the tag line be?

So much for the quiet of the grave...

6 people found this helpful

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  • Madeleine
  • 08-09-18

Lovely collection of Creeping Dread

If you like understated historically set horror or psychological thrillers, you'll really enjoy this collection. The narrators are perfect for the stories. I just wish it were twice as long.

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  • Judy
  • 17-01-13

So Predictable

I am a big fan of Edith Wharton's work. This 1926 collection of short "ghost" stories, however, fails the reader of 2013.

As is characteristic of Wharton's writing, the narration is understated, never veering into OMG territory. She gives the reader credit for having a brain.

Unfortunately, she treads a well-worn path in each of these tales. The stories move slowly and the outcomes are predictable. I had to force myself to hear them all through to the end, hoping that somewhere in the pack I'd uncover an "Ethan Frome" experience.

I would recommend any of this Pulitzer prize-winning author's other books or short stories, but suggest you leave this collection of ghost stories on the shelf.

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  • MamaBear
  • 04-09-22

Few writers are as fine as Edith Wharton

This is a wonderful collection of Edith Wharton’s darker works, even if my favorite of her stories, “Afterwards,” is not included.

The 5 stories collected here have a kind of through line; the quiet desperation of white women’s lives and the way in which they support one another, even across class divides. This can even be detected in the one story with a male protagonist.

Wharton writes as deliberately and carefully as Henry James, but without his heaviness or convolution. Her prose is crystalline. It rings as delicately as a struck glass, and the sound echoes farther than expected. Her style is perfect for delivering ghost stories.

To me, Wharton is an absorbing writer. I enjoy her stories as stories, and I enjoy considering them long after I’ve read them. Her voice is that of a woman, and an American. Her treatment of class is distinctly different from British writers of her age, as her sympathy for women is distinct from her male peers.

Wharton must have been amazing to talk quietly with during a party. One senses that she saw everything, and dissected everyone’s character. Her sympathy is always with those who are kind, and yet she is in no way naive.

Her unique position as a writer, her skills of observation and understanding, her imagination, her compassion for her characters, and her tremendous skill make her an incomparable writer.

All of that said, Wharton was definitely writing what she knew - and what she knew best were the wealthiest echelons of New York society. Black people must have been invisible to her, as they certainly don’t appear in these stories. Nor do immigrants to America, Native Americans, or even the struggles of the white middle classes. These stories give us glimpses into a very proscribed time, place, and condition of being. These are stories of the Anglo-American upper class, and their servants. Nothing less, and nothing more - and that says something in and of itself about how tightly circumscribed even this talented woman’s life really was.

If you enjoy ghost stories, subtlety, gothic stories, or stories of the gilded age of the fin de siècle, you will enjoy these.

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  • Dizzy Broad
  • 22-01-20

Great stories from Wharton

Each of these ghost stories exhibit Wharton’s keen understanding of the class and sexual roles of the time. The narrator is very good and easy to listen to.

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  • Kadeen
  • 19-03-13

Very Entertaining!

Would you listen to Ghosts: Edith Wharton's Gothic Tales again? Why?

I would definitely listen to Ghosts again. It was a fun listen and I plan to share it with others.

What did you like best about this story?

I like that the stories were short and the plots were almost innocent in nature. All I had to do was sit back and enjoy.

Have you listened to any of the narrators’s other performances before? How does this one compare?

I have listened to Edith Wharton's classics before and she did not disappoint with her fun Gothic Tales.

If you could take any character from Ghosts: Edith Wharton's Gothic Tales out to dinner, who would it be and why?

Definitely Mr. Jones! LOL

Any additional comments?

If you are looking for a quick break from your normal reads, this is a great book to distract you.

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  • thia burke
  • 17-10-22

Only Five Stories

I have Wharton's book, GHOSTS, published by The NY Review of Books, copyright 1937. I was hoping to read along while listening, but this audio book has only four of its eleven stories.

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  • T.J.
  • 01-08-22

wonderful tales

I've listened to these stories at least 5 times. Spooky and awesome. Most likely I will listen again.