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Summer by Edith Wharton

Summer (1917)

by Edith Wharton

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When she was a young child, Charity Royall was rescued from “the Mountain” by Lawyer Royall, who is now her guardian. Now she’s eighteen, feeling bored in the small town of North Dormer, and itching to spread her wings. When she meets Lucius Harney, an architect from the city who is visiting his cousin, her eyes are opened to possibilities she hasn’t dared dream about. Their mutual attraction garners some unwanted attention and results in gossip that Charity ignores until it is too late.

Wharton wrote this circa 1917 when she was living in France. When published, it shocked readers; they were not used to reading about a young woman’s awakening sexuality. I wonder if they would have been so shocked if Wharton had set the novel in France, rather than in the Berkshires.

Charity is head-strong and passionate, but also naïve. As frequently happens in Wharton’s novels, the principal characters never come out and say what they mean. They are frequently acting based on assumptions, rather than on a true understanding of the facts. Wharton knew the social makeup of turn-of-the century America, and used her novels to explore the nuances of the “rules” – spoken and unspoken – by which people, especially women, had to live. In this, as in other novels, the social fabric of the community is as much a character as any of the people in it.

It’s a slim novel, and a great introduction to Wharton’s writing. I still prefer House of Mirth, but this was an enjoyable read. ( )
  BookConcierge | Dec 7, 2016 |
A hundred years old but the novel still reads like a modern take on the slow-burning, sensual passions of a young woman trapped by her 19th century small town milieu with no opportunities but the glimmer of a more hopeful future offered by the potential of love. Harshly but also justly realistic, the unhappy characters are deeply flawed, petty and unwilling to better themselves or helpless due to circumstances, seemingly a trait of Wharton characters.

The author captures the uncertainties and thrills of a burgeoning affair, but also the depressing reality of the time. The novel is a departure from the usual Wharton setting of high society but as demonstrated here, privilege is relative to your surroundings but the theme of well-developed female characters carry throughout her novels. Recommended for Wharton fans and beware of the hypocritical, misogynistic cads. ( )
  kitzyl | Jun 26, 2016 |
I adore Edith Whartons writing and was pleased to finally be reading Summer as I have heard that it is her most controversial, shocking... Unfortunately the biggest disappointment comes from the build, but if I set that aside as I should, and allow the book to stand on it's own merit, it is a good read with interesting conflict, but in no way her best work. ( )
  StephLaymon | Mar 12, 2016 |
Ugh. Expecting something more along the lines of "Age of Innocence", this is just depressing and well, icky. Horrid ending. ( )
  Oodles | Feb 16, 2016 |
I enjoyed this short novel by Edith Wharton. The writing is beautiful and evokes the small town, countryside and behaviors of the unsophisticated townsfolk and the renegade Mountain folk living on the fringes of Society. None of the characters are sympathetic, but written so fully you feel you know them well. The protagonist, Charity Royall is by turns ungrateful, petty, naive, impulsive and impressionable. All in all, a very satisfying tale by one of America's best writers. ( )
  Zumbanista | Feb 13, 2016 |
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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 Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:18:47 -0400)

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

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

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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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