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Summer by Edith Wharton
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Summer (1917)

by Edith Wharton

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I am so in love with the writing of Edith Wharton. It makes me feel foolish to have had such a writer in full view and passed her over for so many years in favor of lesser ones.

Edith Wharton's Summer is a different kind of novel than the others of hers that I have read, but not one bit less rich and enthralling. The main character, Charity Royall, is unsure of her place in society, raised in the home of one of the most prominent men in a small town but always made aware that she comes "from the mountain". The mountain is peopled with the poor and uneducated, who are so lowly placed as to have no status whatsoever in the society on whose fringe they live. Charity bounces between a feeling of position and power and one of abject inferiority, her very name being a reflection of her lack of legitimate claim on the society in which she lives.

Wharton brings all her elaborate writing skills to bear on this story, painting vivid pictures of the town, the natural surroundings and the people. The "love story" at the heart of the tale is full of tension and societal taboos, just as those entanglements we see in The Age of Innocence and House of Mirth. I became very involved in Charity's situation and anxious for her in the choices she was forced to make.

The odd thing for me was that I kept thinking of Thomas Hardy and found this novel had an atmosphere and feeling that was more akin with him than with the Wharton works I know. Perhaps this springs from the fact that Wharton sets this novel in a rural, small town area without any of the glitz, riches and style that are her usual trademarks. Charity Royall isn't trying to climb the social ladder or gain entrance into a society she watches from outside, she is inside the society already trying to figure out exactly where she fits.

If you have enjoyed other Wharton novels, you are almost sure to find this one a satisfying read. It is short, but powerful, and I closed the book feeling as if the story had come full cycle and reached its inevitable conclusion. ( )
  phantomswife | Jul 6, 2018 |
Boring ( )
  Sean_Murphy | Dec 23, 2017 |
Boring ( )
  Sean_Murphy | Dec 23, 2017 |
I was the only person in my sophomore English class that enjoyed reading Edith Wharton's "Ethan Frome" so it's no surprise to me that I really enjoyed her novel "Summer" as well all these years later. I find Wharton's characters to be unlikable people that you really want to root for anyway, (and that is a difficult balance to achieve in my experience.)

This novel is the story of Charity Royall, who was "brought down the mountain" and raised by a lawyer and his wife. Mrs. Royall dies and her benefactor sets his sights on marrying her. Charity also experiences a sexual awakening when she bumps into Mr. Harney at the local library.

While this work was controversial in Wharton's time, it is pretty tame today. I liked the story overall and Charity's growing knowledge of her circumstances was portrayed very well. I wouldn't put this up there with Wharton's best work, but it definitely was a worthwhile read. ( )
  amerynth | Oct 17, 2017 |
I'm adding Edith Wharton to the list of historical people I wish I could meet. ( )
  Pamici | Jul 13, 2017 |
Showing 1-5 of 44 (next | show all)
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» Add other authors (21 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Edith Whartonprimary authorall editionscalculated
Rattray, LauraEditorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Waid, CandaceIntroductionsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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A girl came out of lawyer Royall’s house, at the end of the one street of North Dormer, and stood on the doorstep.
Edith Wharton was fifty-five years old when she wrote the novella "Summer" in 1917. (Introduction)
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0553214225, Mass Market Paperback)

Considered by some to be her finest work, Edith Wharton’s Summer created a sensation when first published in 1917, as it was one of the first novels to deal honestly with a young woman’s sexual awakening.

Summer is the story of Charity Royall, a child of mountain moonshiners adopted by a family in a poor New England town, who has a passionate love affair with Lucius Harney, an educated man from the city. Wharton broke the conventions of women’s romantic fiction by making Charity a thoroughly independent modern woman—in touch with her emotions and sexuality, yet kept from love and the larger world she craves by the overwhelming pressures of heredity and society.

Praised for its realism and honesty by such writers as Joseph Conrad and Henry James and compared to Flaubert’s Madame Bovary, Summer remains as fresh and powerful a novel today as when it was first written.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:18:47 -0400)

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Charity Royall enjoys an idyllic summer romance with visiting architect Lucius Harvey.

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Penguin Australia

2 editions of this book were published by Penguin Australia.

Editions: 0451525663, 0140186794

Tantor Media

An edition of this book was published by Tantor Media.

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