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Interesting. I'll read the story and get back to you. The only book I've tried of Edith Wharton's is The House of Mirth, which I gave up on, so I'd like to see if I like her short stories better.


Oh I wish I had time to read the story today - maybe I'll get back to it. But without having read a word, I might plump for a hysterical solution a la Turn of the Screw as that was popular back then. The set-up sounds really intriguing!


I haven't read any ghost stories by Wharton, but I felt the same way about The Turn of the Screw by James. I think you're right. I think they're meant to be open-ended.

Dorothy W.

Hmmm ... this sounds interesting! I wonder if Wharton was purposely working in a Jamesian mode. This style seems pretty different from her other work.


BooksPlease--I read several of her novels when I was younger and have really enjoyed a short story and Glimpses of the Moon that I read earlier this year. I think I missed something on this one, though she got the feeling of servant and mistress down really well. I would *love* to hear what you think!
Litlove--If you manage to squeeze it in in the near future I would love to hear your thoughts on it. I think I will have to research it a bit in the library--surely there must be some criticism on it and I can see what I missed!
Lisa--This one certainly seemed to be open for interpretation. James's The Turn of the Screw is wonderful and I need to reread it, too!
Dorothy--I think James wrote Turn of the Screw at about the same time. I've only read one other of her short stories and it wasn't all that difficult to figure out, so this one surprised me. I will have to read more of the stories in this collection and see how they compare.

kristen m.

Hmm ... I just read it and I was totally on board until the last few paragraphs. I was into the suspense and the leadup but then it was like running into a wall. The story felt like it just stopped. There was no satisfaction at all. I definitely think that the ghost was a protective one but was the ending a protective outcome?


Kristen--I was stumped by the ending as well. I thought Emma was trying to tell Hartley what happened to her, but it didn't turn out that way. I suspected Ranford and Mrs Brympton were having an affair, but I don't know why Emma brought Hartley to his house--was she trying to warn them off? In any case I read some criticism, which offered some interesting insights (that I completely missed). I plan on posting about it again later this week (too much to share here). I'll be curious to hear what you think of the explanation--I raised of an eyebrow, but who knows?! I also thought I was on one track and then she threw me for a loop with that odd ending!


I so loved Wharton's ghost stories! They are quite subtle and not suitable when you're tired or easily distracted. I remember being scared by "the eyes" and also by "Pomegranate seeds". I recommend both to you!


My interpretation of the ending is that Mrs. Brympton and Ranford were planning to elope, and the maid's ghost was trying to warn them that Mr. Brympton was coming home. (Just my interpretation based on the fact that Mrs. Brympton was still fully clothed late at night, and the hostility between Mr. Brympton and Ranford at the funeral.)



I was intrigued by your post and popped over to read the story. I love Wharton. (Roman Fever, though not a ghost story, is my absolute favorite short story of hers.) I read Maid's Bell, and I'm perplexed. Will have to think about it for a while and get back to you. I love complex stories like that! Thanks for the rec!


Smithereens--Both of them are in the collection I borrowed. You are right--these are stories that require total attention! I will have to read both of them now!
Ellen--Thanks for your insights. I thought she was also trying to warn someone (well, that is after I thought it was something more sinister--like someone murdered her or something and she was trying to show what happened--I read too many thrillers!). I think the husband also caught her out as he wasn't expected home, though I am still confused by the wife collapsing and dying.
Sarah--I read Roman Fever earlier this year and loved it, too! I'm glad I was not the only one confused. I'd love to hear further thoughts on it!


I've read it now and am just as puzzled as everyone else. I thought the husband caught her out and Ranford injured his leg when he had to leave suddenly. But right now I'm wondering about the title and its significance ...
I may write a post on this to see if I can clarify my thoughts - that does sometimes happen when I've not been sure what I think.


BooksPlease--I would love to hear more of what you think--reading other's thoughts always makes me think more about a story as well. And I, too, think there has to be more about that bell. I read some criticism, which offered some rather interesting insights and I want to post on it again--perhaps on Saturday. I'll watch for your post, too! Thanks for reading it!


I just read this and I am totally frustrated! What happened? Did anyone ever figure it out?

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