Once she settled in France, however, Wharton produced some of the most notable works of her career, including the short story collections The Hermit and the Wild Woman (1908), Tales of Men and Ghosts (1910), and Xingu and Other Stories (1916) as well as the novels Ethan Frome, The Reef (1912), The Custom of the Country (1913), and Summer (1917).
During World War I, Wharton organized war relief efforts for refugees, for which she earned the French Legion of Honor, and wrote propaganda for the Allies as well as the undistinguished war novels The Marne (1918) and A Son at the Front (1923).
However, she gradually grew dissatisfied with society life and disillusioned with marriage, so she sought personal fulfillment by writing in private.
Many of these early poems and stories first appeared in Scribner’s Magazine, and her best fiction of the period was collected in The Greater Inclination (1899), whose critical reception not only surprised her but also steeled her resolve to hone her literary skills.
He suggests to Mattie that they take a sled ride together before parting.
Upon reaching the bottom of the hill, they share a kiss.
Themes of repression and isolation play a prominent role in Ethan Frome.
The setting of the remote Frome farm during a harsh New England winter reflects the emotional impoverishment, intense loneliness, and profound inarticulateness of the troubled couple, Ethan and Zeena.
Subsequently, Wharton published the novel The Valley of Decision (1902), the story collection The Descent of Man (1904), and The House of Mirth, which established her critical and popular reputation as a leading writer of the era.
Wharton professional success, along with her husband’s eroding sanity and marital infidelity, prompted her in 1907 to take up permanent residence in France and in 1913 to divorce her husband, which greatly pained her.