Dave Barry on Learning
Reviewed by: Chris Salzer Chrissalzer@aol.com Date: 23 June 2004
Cogent theme, yet boring plot:
While I appreciated the germane theme of "life is short -- so make the most of it," I did not, however, particularly appreciate the utter despondency and insufferable malaise of Wharton's storyline. The morose setting of a fictitious New England town in the cold winter adds to the gloom and dreariness of an already hopeless milieu engendered by the abject despair of title character Ethan and the incorrigible antagonism of his wife, Zeena.
I didn't know whether to pity Ethan - or to laugh at him. His weak lack of resolve against the insufferably truculent and extremely annoying Zeena as well as his glaring inability to make his own decisions both contribute to make this book to be anything but a "page-turner" -- to put it mildly. Ethan is nothing short of pathetic. I empathize with Mattie to a certain degree, yet the ending (with Mattie) of this short novella is so pathetic that I was left shaking my head -- at how stupid they all are.
I gave it a generous 3 stars for its pertinent message of "hey, don't be like us because we're morons." While I highly enjoyed Wharton's The House of Mirth, this book, in essence, is no House of Mirth - in more ways than one.
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