Bunner Sisters by Edith Wharton

BunnerSistersBunner Sisters is the second novella I’ve read by Edith Wharton. After reading Madame de Treymes and not being particularly impressed with it, I decided to give this one a try.

The story is about two sisters, Ann Eliza and Evelina, living in New York 1916, who runs a sewing/hat/dress maker shop. Things are not going well financially for the two spinster sisters, however on Evelina’s birthday Ann Eliza decides to buy her a clock for her birthday. The latter she purchased from a german watchmaker, Herman Ramy, who soon afterwards befriended the two sisters. Ann Eliza likes Ramy, however decides to take a step back once she learns that her younger sister Evelina has developed an interest in him.

Herman Ramy courts Evelina, yet surprisingly one day he shows up at the dress shop knowing Evelina won’t be there and proposes to Ann Eliza! She declines and manages to convince him that Evelina would make a better wife.  Soon afterwards he proposed to Evelina, the two gets married and move away. The two sisters kept in contact corresponding via letters, until one day Evelina stops writing…

Turns out that Herman Ramy is not the person they thought he was – the naivety of the sisters (as a results of living in their own secluded little world, maybe?) leaves for a disastrous ending to the story. The story line was a little predictable, however I think it was much better than Madame de Treymes!

Have you read this novella? And what did you think of it?

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  • I haven’t read it, but did you end up reading Xingu? I forgot if you had or not. It’s Wharton and it’s really short, free on Kindle, and good! It’s about snooty book club women, and I think you’d like it!

    I’ll have to add this one to my list. I think I like Edith Wharton as a writer, especially because her novels are so short!

    • Mel

      A lot of Edith Wharton’s novellas are free on kindle, which is great! I popped over to your blog to check out your review – wow 48 pages is really short. This one is about 150.

      I really am starting to like Edith’s work!

      • I’m going to have to grab more of her stuff! The Kindle just makes it so easy to read classics!

        • Mel

          That’s one of the reasons why I love my Kindle! I get all the classics for free 🙂 I know I can get it in pdf etc but I hate reading on a pc, so getting it free on my kindle is great!

  • I haven’t read any Edith Wharton, yet, and I didn’t know her books were so short — I think I’ll get started on one. 🙂

    • Mel

      She has quite a few novellas. They range from between 90 – 160 pages 🙂 Nice, quick reads and there are some that’s actually good.

  • I’ve only read one of Edith Wharton’s novels, but I really enjoyed it. I think these books of manners are fun. But this one sounds a little more adventurous, perhaps? I will have to give it a try sometime!

    • Mel

      Hi Kim. Which one did you read? This one was an interesting read, the story line was believable and sad, but also it provides a good insight into how the ladies were ‘courted’ back in the day 😉 Do give her work a try.

      • I read The Age of Innocence, which I thought was fun. I’d like try her again with short stories, since her books are a little long.

        • There’s a lot of her novellas free on amazon for kindle and it ranges in length. You should check it out 🙂

  • Wow it is a short novel though. Question though, did Evelina know that Ann Eliza liked Herman? If so, were people not more morally inclined in the 1916? As in wasn’t the rule more “golden” that your sibling/friend’s love interest becomes off limits to you… Anyway was just thinking, lol.

    • Mel

      It is short yes, she has quite a few novellas – quick reads, although some of them aren’t always easy reads. She does have some novels, but I haven’t read any yet. I’m planning to read Age of Innocence, which is a novel. Kind of excited about it, because I’d love to see how I like her writing style/story telling when I read something a bit longer.

      No, she did not know Ann Eliza was in love with Herman, she never told her. In fact, she liked Herman before Evelina met him. I think that she was quite selfless in that manner. I wanted her to say yes to his marriage proposal, good thing she didn’t!

  • Ali

    I love Edith Wharton. Writers who’s work mirrors and is sartorical or nearly so are very entertaining. I’ve read House of Mirth, Ethan Frome and The Age of Innocence. I wish she had been able to finish The Buccaneers before she died. I wonder what the ending would have been like.


    • Thanks for that little fact, Ali (The Buccanneers, haven’t heard of it or knew that she never finished it). I have only read this one and Madame de Treymes , but House of Mirth, Ethan Frome and The Age of Innocence are all on my kindle!

  • I definitely recommend “House of Mirth.” It’s not a very happy book, but it is gorgeous. Haven’t read the novellas, but just downloaded “Bunner Sisters” from Kindle (per your recommendation!).

    • I love how a lot of the classics are free on Kindle 🙂
      Enjoy Bunner Sisters! (And the rest ;))

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