Bunner Sisters

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Edith Wharton's Bunner Sisters takes place in New York, 1916, where hard times have fallen upon two sisters who run a shabby little dressmaker's shop adjacent to their dwelling. The younger sister, Ann Eliza, has encountered a sickly, but educated clockmaker who sells her a clock. At first, knowledge of his personality and previous lifestyle are unknown to the sisters, but they slowly befriend the lonely man and his visits to the home are frequent throughout the next few months. He becomes a part of their lives. And his interest in one of the sisters moves the story in another direction and into another phase of their lives. The writing style of Wharton is unlike others, as she uses words that not only describe a scene in an era or condition, but with descriptive phrases that depict feelings, moods, attitudes, and mystery. She has given the reader just enough information about the man to carry the story forward without revealing too much. The air of mystery is always around as we learn about the old man, his relationship with the sisters and the confidence they have in him. You will learn the symbolic references to time, age and transition, as the clock tic tocks and winds. This is a wonderful read on the socio-economic hard times during the era, the smaller run dressmaking industry, and mostly, relationships between three people. Like any other Wharton short novel, this one is filled with interest.

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