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Summer by Edith Wharton
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Summer (1917)

by Edith Wharton

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When she was 5-years-old Charity Royall was rescued from a life of poverty with her prostitute mother when a wealthy man became her guardian. Instead of growing up in the mountain community with her mother she is raised in a life of privilege by Lawyer Royall and grows up to be a librarian. When we meet her she is a grown woman just beginning to stretch her wings. After turning down her guardians’ marriage proposal (eww) she is restless and discontent in her life. She soon finds momentary fulfillment in a clandestine relationship.
The material is a bit racy for its time period (which makes it tame by today’s standards.) It gives readers a tragic look at an ambitious girl who flouts the societal restraints imposed on her. It felt like a weak precursor to The House of Mirth, though it was published more than a decade later.

BOTTOM LINE: For me, the ending was deeply dissatisfying and disappointing. It felt more like a morality lesson for settling down as quickly as possible. I was frustrated that Charity was left with so few options, though I understand that’s a realistic view of the time period. ( )
  bookworm12 | Mar 3, 2014 |
I was told this book was dirty, and ...well, to be fair, I was told it was dirty "for Wharton," which I suppose is true as far as it goes, but still: oblique references to illicit trysts aren't exactly begging for the fap when you fade out after they hold hands. Remind me this though: next time I'm sitting next to a leathery woman from Lowell on the bus and she's all "Hey, what are YOU reading?" and I say "Edith Wharton" and she mishears me and thinks I said "It's for work," and gives me a lecture about reading for work on buses, which apparently is bullshit, not that I disagree, the right response is not "No, Edith Wharton, and it's gonna be cool because I heard it was dirty." You won't really get a disapproving look - I mean, wtf, she's from Lowell, that's probably the nicest thing she's ever heard on a bus - but she will decide that you're now buddies and you might want to see a picture of a cat her friend died red, white and blue for the Superbowl. Because, y'know, the cat is a Pats fan. I'm not kidding about any of this. You know I don't kid. And I guess it's working; we're up 17 - 9 in the third quarter. Dear Boston, the only reason I looked up the score is so I could reference it in this Edith Wharton review I'm writing during the Superbowl; after this I'm gonna go back to reading Nathaniel Hawthorne. I ain't gotta defend my masculinity to the likes of you. Wharton and Hawthorne were both here before the Patriots were so don't go yelling at me about loyalty, yahdood. ( )
  AlCracka | Apr 2, 2013 |
This book failed to capture me. It's a character driven book, but for this particular book, the character didn't work for me. Charity Royall was suppose to be a independent modern woman, in touch with her sexuality. But I didn't see it. For the time period I suppose it was seen as modern and a bit scandalous, Charity was likely seen as a heroine, but I still don't think there was enough good characterization to move the book forward. She didn't have anything special to keep her apart from all the other women written in that time, save for a job, and she would try to stand up against her guardian, but even then, it wasn't to different than other books written in the time. There was some innuendo with her lover, but I'm not sure how much happened in her mind and how much actually happened with him besides a passionate kiss. Nothing stood out to impress me, especially the lead character. Which was probably why I was so bored with the book - so many others like it written at the same time have almost the same plot devices.

I did enjoy the glimpses of her background story of the mountain people, and wish that was explained in more detail, I felt like it was just scratched at the surface, and was looking for more. Otherwise, the story was bland, and not a lot kept me interested.

Also on my book review blog Jules' Book Reviews - Summer ( )
  bookwormjules | Dec 30, 2012 |
This story of a New England waif at about the dawn of the Twentieth Century who finds herself under the spell of a charming young man who is engaged to someone else, and who eventually finds herself "in trouble" could be cliché. In fact, Wharton's writing lifts it far above other stories of that ilk.

I love her portrayals of the characters. The heroine is no helpless victim. The man she is involved with is not particularly exploiting her. Even her guardian who enters her bedroom once, unbidden, is not especially evil.

I'm sure, especially with the extremely thinly veiled reference to abortion, and the underlying sexual themes throughout the book that this was a particularly shocking book in its time. Even more so in light of the fact that the heroine was able to find a kind of redemption after having gone astray.

This book confirmed, again, my love for Edith Wharton. ( )
  bookwoman247 | Jul 7, 2012 |
Those who claim Edith Wharton is prim and dull are clearly missing something when"...all were merged in a moist
earth-smell that was like the breath of some huge sun-warmed animal"
1 vote ahovde01 | Mar 8, 2012 |
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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.
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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 Mon, 30 Sep 2013 13:48:52 -0400)

(see all 6 descriptions)

A young girl's rite of passage into adulthood is evoked in Wharton's classic novel.

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Audible.com

Four editions of this book were published by Audible.com.

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Penguin Australia

Two editions of this book were published by Penguin Australia.

Editions: 0451525663, 0140186794

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