I don't understand why anybody would think that this book is a waste of time. The reader does indeed feel sort of sorry for Ethan Frome, but for good reason. Even though he is cheating on his wife, look at her! She's a hypochondriac who pretends to be sick for attention! Ethan obviously sees through this and as a result goes after love from a different direction. In modern society this story would be easily resolved, and that makes it ironic. However, the ending keeps the reader aware that nothing really works out, especially in instances like this.