A tale of forbidden sexual passion and thwarted dreams played out against the lush, summer backdrop of the Massachusetts Berkshires Edith Wharton called Summer her 'hot Ethan'.
In their rural settings and their poor, uneducated protagonists, Summer (1916) and Ethan Frome represent a sharp departure from Wharton's familiar depictions of the urban upper class.
Charity Royall lives unhappily with her hard-drinking adoptive father in an isolated village, until a visiting architect awakens her sexual passion and the hope for escape.
Exploring Charity's relation to her father and her lover, Wharton delves into dark cultural territory: repressed sexuality, small-town prejudice, and, in subtle hints, incest.
- Format: Paperback
- Pages: 224 pages
- Publisher: Penguin Books Ltd
- Publication Date: 07/10/1993
- Category: Modern & contemporary fiction (post c 1945)
- ISBN: 9780140186796
Showing 1 - 3 of 3 reviews.
Review by deliriumslibrarian
Slow days in a dusty library - and the release of first love. A book about books and what you can't learn from them. Disturbing, will never be made into a lush film.
Review by miyurose
The first thing that struck me when I finished this book was how times have changed. This was considered extremely provocative when it was published, yet Charity and Harney are only described kissing a few times, and are never described doing anything else. Charity strikes me as a very unhappy young woman, and even ungrateful. She lives with her much older (and yes, imperfect) guardian, and treats him with nothing but scorn throughout the entire story, even though he took her in and cared for her for almost her whole life without any obligation. He gets her the job she desires, and she treats it with scorn also, often abandoning it to lay in the fields for the afternoon. I can see that she is lost, but I found little reason to want her to have a happy ending. How Harney treats her is unfortunate, but she also looked at him with closed eyes. Harney fails to get his due, which I suppose is mostly a sign of the times — the man always gets away with it, and the woman is left to clean up the mess. The ending — Charity basically giving up on her dreams — may seem sad to most, but the way I see it, she had other choices and her own blindness and stubbornness led her to that ending.
Review by countrylife
I love character-driven stories. Edith Wharton did not disappoint me in this regard. Her characters were entirely, sometimes even uncomfortably, real. This was a story that you could really see happening, not just some far-fetched plot to drive a book. This corner of Massachusetts was descriptively rendered, from the melancholy small town where Charity lives to the poor mountain dwellings to the gorgeous countryside.<i>She loved the roughness of the dry mountain grass under her palms, the smell of the thyme into which she crushed her face, the fingering of the wind in her hair and through her cotton blouse, and the creak of the larches as they swayed to it.</i>In the end, Charity received what her nature had in store for her. It all happened as it ought. The reading was not easy, but the story was perfectly rendered.