Thursday, March 13, 2008

Children's Book Hiatus: Frome-In

Edith Wharton has never before struck me as funny, but she was priceless at the Frome-in. I doubt I'll ever again hear so many interpretations of the same novel over the course of a single evening. One laugh riot I had to share:

"It was right there I found your locket," he said, pushing his foot into a dense tuft of blueberry bushes."I never saw anybody with such sharp eyes!" she answered. She sat down on the tree-trunk in the sun and he sat down beside her. "You were as pretty as a picture in that pink hat," he said. She laughed with pleasure. "Oh, I guess it was the hat!" she rejoined. They had never before avowed their inclination so openly, and Ethan, for a moment, had the illusion that he was a free man, wooing the girl he meant to marry. He looked at her hair and longed to touch it again, and to tell her that it smelt of the woods; but he had never learned to say such things.

Seriously? Since when is telling someone she looks cute in a particular hat a declaration of love? Since when is "your hair smells woodsy" a suave compliment? I feel there's a number of possible interpretations for those lines, and maybe the tragedy of Ethan Frome is that the characters understood each other too well.

In fact, with that in mind, I vow to be grateful for misinterpretation, monosyllabic answers, and overanalysis, since besides inspiring so much fiction by women, it's so far saved me from becoming a parapalegic.

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