Edith Wharton’s Ghosts

Krithika Varagur at The Nation:

The more affecting terrors in Ghosts include domestic violence, lonely marriages, undignified old age, and suppressed identity. There are disastrous marriages galore: The titular housekeeper of “Mr. Jones” turns out to be the malevolent, long-dead servant who once helped an 18th-century nobleman isolate his deaf and mute wife there. In “The Lady’s Maid’s Bell,” servants come and go; the only constant is the abuse and neglect of the invalid lady of the house by her alcoholic and philandering husband. In “Kerfol,” it turns out that the “most romantic house in Brittany” is haunted not by the sadistic 17th-century aristocrat who owned it but by all the dogs he killed there, pets that had briefly enlivened his wife’s “desolate” and “extremely lonely” life. That backstory is related through the records of a long-ago court case, which diffuses the real-time suspense but does not dull the horrors of that cruel marriage.

more here.