Welcome Visitors! I am your unnamed narrator, and I’ll serve as your tour guide for today’s historic snowshoe tour of Starkfield, Massachusetts, made famous in Edith Wharton’s classic novel, Ethan Frome.

Don’t you just LOVE a blustery New England winter in rural western Mass? If your answer is “NOPE!” then I agree. It’s pretty fucking miserable here.

But, you chose to join us today—only God knows why—to tour this little town that laid the foundation for arguably THE most depressing book ever written. Starkfield housed perhaps the most infuriatingly frustrating literary character of all time: Ethan Frome. Boy, you’re in for a treat! Alright, people! Zip those coats, snap on those snowshoes, and follow me!

Our first stop, at the top of this hill, will be The Frome Farm, in the Frome family for generations. As you can see, this dilapidated place has been abandoned for years, understandably. As you observe the architecture, you’ll take note of the missing “L structure” which you may remember from the novel symbolizing Ethan’s empty life. His life WAS indeed empty due to his own inability to harness guilt, therefore allowing said guilt to bring about his own voluntary entrapment and full responsibility for his wastefully deferred dreams. Isn’t it all just hideous?

Legend has it that to this day, curious passers-by who shine their flashlights through the windows at night will discover Zeena’s rocking chair eerily creaking back and forth. One local reported he saw a silhouette of a cat inside. One wonders: WAS it the ghost of Zeena’s shitty kitty who broke her stupid pickle dish? Talk about heebie jeebies! Let’s move onto our next unpleasant tour stop.

Okay, folks, into the Frome family graveyard we go! Here, you’ll observe the grim mini-cemetery which contains multiple generations of dead Fromes. Right over here is Ethan’s tombstone, sandwiched between Zeena’s and Mattie’s, just as he darkly and pathetically predicted in the novel. To quote Mrs. Hale: “Down there, they’re all quiet.” Get it?! Quiet because they’re dead bodies! Is the desolate fucking melancholy setting in yet? That was a rhetorical question. Sorry. I need a new job.

Okay, folks! After you wrap up taking your spooky-ass headstone pics, we’ll snowshoe onward.

Here we are! You may now take a brief shopping trip at Eady’s Grocery. Pick up your souvenir red ribbon, just like the one Mattie wore in her hair. You may also purchase some glue, like Ethan bought to fix that stupid fucking pickle dish. F.Y.I., glue and ribbon are the only two products the store sells. If only Eady’s sold Starkfield postcards; your friends back home will be jealous of your visit! Okay maybe not.

We’re at the Starkfield Train Station, where Mattie arrived, and where Zeena left for her trip to the expensive doctor for her umpteen maybe-real-but-maybe-not-real ailments. Jotham Powell endured that totally awkward carriage ride to drop that bitch off right here.

To my right, you will see the commemorative plaque honoring Jotham: the most underrated and overlooked character of the entire novel. He was just trying to do his job, but unfortunately had to constantly dodge getting stuck in the middle of his co-worker’s imminent marriage implosion, and the tremendously uncomfortable Cousin vs. Cousin vs. Cousin love triangle. Incest! Gross. Jotham: the real MVP. Onward to our last stop!

Finally, the moment you’ve all been waiting for… which is pretty fucked up, by the way. At the bottom of this hill, you’ll get to see the most famous Starkfield landmark: THE notorious Big Elm Tree. Desperately hopeless lovers who also share desires of solidifying their not-at-all-romantic, way-too-impulsive suicide pacts trek here every winter to gaze at this very tree: the mother of all suicide attempt fuck-ups. Travelers may read the memorial plaque beneath the tree engraved with Mattie’s famous line: “Right into the big elm.” What a wordsmith that homewrecker was.

HOWEVER, thankfully UNLIKE Mattie and Ethan, those dumbasses, our visitors are smarter. They take a moment to really CONTEMPLATE things. They ponder to themselves: “Hmm. On one hand, we COULD sled to our quick and painless deaths together; BUT on the other hand, WHAT IF I suddenly think of my spouse, let guilt take over and swerve, leaving both of us mangled and disfigured, or even worse: paralyzed vegetables stuck in bed forever? Maybe we better not.”

Weirdos love to take selfies with this tree. I am also happy to take group pictures. You may pose on the sled if you’d like a prop. If you want, you can also grab the spray bottle and squirt fake blood onto the snow; it adds some gore, making the pictures more brutally realistic for you sick fucks.

This brings us to the end of our tour, folks! Please turn in your snowshoes. If you’re normal, I’m guessing that you probably DIDN’T have a good time today, but on the off-chance that you did—because you’re a total sicko, I might add—we ask that you please rate us FIVE STARS on Tripadvisor! “Like” us on Facebook, and take our fun quiz: “Are You a Mattie… or a Zeena?” Also on our page, check out our self-help article called “How to Keep Your Sweetheart With You, No Matter What, Forever and Ever and Ever.”

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