Reading Edith Wharton offers an enjoyment that the reader carries through. She not only writes beautifully with a sharp account of the society she knew, but she knows how to tell the tale and take the reader along until the last page of the book. Her ghost stories just like her novels at core deal with same aspects that she is so preoccupied with, respectively wealthy people, their vanity and the questionable morality expressed in all their deeds. In Afterward by Edith Wharton, we see a young American couple going through tremendous anxiety to find a suitable old English mansion to live in but quite strikingly a mansion with a real live ghost is offered to them by chance turning the story to an interesting dimension. The thing that makes people glued to the storyline is that while reading they cannot realize they have actually come across a ghost and it is only ‘afterward’, in the course of events, that they know the truth.
The storyline goes like this. A young American couple decides to buy a large mansion in the English Countryside. They were actually looking for an old house to offer their own living mark. They even like to live in a house with a ghost. Finally, the house they buy seems to lack these aspects and though there is likely to be a ghost it is not found until long afterwards.
Mary and Edward Boyne, the couple fixes up the place quite well. They are also financially well-off thanks to the successful business of the later. They have a very bonding relationship and almost everything in their lives is perfect. In one laid out afternoon, they decide to hike the hill near their home when a man is seen walking up the driveway. When venturing to catch him the man disappears suddenly before anyone could get there. Though finally, all comes out well and settled again, the time after seeing this disappeared man offers a few intriguing twists and turns and that deserves a firsthand reading rather than knowing the storyline in review.
It is intriguing and involving
Many of us have been kind of people who are easily spooked with slight frightening things. They can be ghosts or demons or evil spirits that make the perfect nightmare deepening our fright for the darkness and invisible. Edith Wharton’s (en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Edith_Wharton) present story is just way ahead of the so called ghost story clichés. It is through and through intriguing and involving and moreover, quite living with regular characters. In ‘Afterward’, the disappearing man appears again and again for a palpable duration offering them the nerve raking fright of ghost that they were so romantic about while buying the house. We have to wait for the final revelation about the ghost’s existence until much later when one of their friend arriving suddenly recalls the past related to the house.
Wharton’s craft stand out
For many of us who have an uncanny knack for the capturing horror, may find this story more enjoyable than so called volumes of horror books. That slow build up of frightening and foreboding that only crafty writers can utilize to the fullest extent and use potently in stories, is more rewarding and impressive than so called made-to-frighten clichés with same repetitive elements in different shapes and ambiences. The true horror and tension of relating the weird events goes well together and our present writer has an exceptional skill in that.
First of all, the mansion at Lyng seems as the ideal ambience for Edward and Mary Boyne to make their home with some fantasized idea about ghosts. The scenic landscape all around and their desolation are quite complementing to each other. It is quite what seems to be the kind of place the couple were looking for. When they are informed that the mansion has the presence of a ghost, they rather took it as a fun element added to their happy life. The real turn of the story is in the discovery of the ghost long ‘Afterwards’ and the whole story is a systematic progression or building up of that horror element that surprises us all including the couple in the book.
The circumstances that ensue are undoubtedly strange and this strangeness achieves the peak when Edward is observed with a slightly distressed behavior and a strange man is seen walking up the driveway that quickly disappears as soon as he tries to get hold of him. An otherwise happy life of the couple gets threatened by this mysterious appearance and disappearance.
Wharton as a master storyteller weaves every aspect of the story to make the revelation of the ghost a surprising event taking hold of her readers and obviously her characters. The plot has been devised in a slow progression with the delicate weaving of details to build the story’s encapsulating suspense and take the reader’s anxiety to the optimum level.