Summer by Edith Wharton

SUmmerSummer is known to be Edith Wharton’s provocative piece of literature and when reading the book I didn’t quite get why it was called erotic, because it really wasn’t… Until I realized that it was first published in 1917, so now I can definitely understand why this would be perceived as provocative. The story involves the sexual awakening of a young girl, however subtly mentioned in the book.

Charity Royall is a young woman from the wrong side of the tracks who was rescued and raised by Mr Royall. She worked at the local library where she met Harney, the man she falls in love with in the story. Although Charity seems a strong woman, she was in fact weak and naïve.  It’s a sad story about a young woman’s hopes and dreams when she falls in love for the first time and then being betrayed. In this case, it’s her trust that’s being betrayed. Was Harney ever really hers? Did he ever intend on marrying her, or did she give him an easy way out? She eventually settles down to a future she never wanted for herself.

Now overall I am a fan of Edith Wharton’s work, she is a good author whose work you can explore if you’re interested in Edwardian literature.  I’ve read Xingu, which I really enjoyed, but I’ve also read Bunner Sisters, Madame Treymes and Ethan Frome (yet to review). Summer is quite similar to Ethan Frome in a way. I think that Summer is a good and quick read – perfect for adding to your classics club list!

Have you read Summer or any other Edith Wharton books you’ve enjoyed?

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  • I haven’t read any Edith Wharton books, but I have heard lots of good things about her. Do you recommend one to start with?

    • I think Xingu, because it’s funny. Otherwise, I did like Bunner Sisters the best.

  • I never read a book by Wharton. It sounds interesting though. Sometimes it is difficult to understand the controversies surrounding a book when you read it in a different time or with a different background

    • Definitely! Some people even referred to it as “erotic”! I can see how it would have been shocking to read at that time, when sexuality didn’t feature so much in books at that time.

  • It’s interesting that was thought of as provocative in an earlier era is seen as tame today. I remember reading Samuel Richardson’s Pamela in high school (with the subtitle: “Virtue Rewarded”) with the same conclusion. Soft, soft stuff when compared to some lustful lit nowadays.

    • When I started reading it, I kept waiting for something “provocative” to happen. Definitely is soft when compared to the books we have nowadays, which is so easily accessible. Like 50 Shades of Grey… openly displayed in the book stores – anyone can just pick it up.

  • Ethan Frome is the only Wharton I liked and it was quite a nice read with an interesting twist.

    I am struggling right now as I just can’t get into reading any of the classics on my Classics club list. I should look out for this one since you recommend it.

    • I didn’t like Ethan Frome as much as the others once I’ve read. I’ve decided to read more books from my classics list this year, I’ve neglected it last year. Good luck to you!

  • I read Ethan Frome, which was good. Depressing ending and made my husband not trust my taste in books for awhile after he read it! Lol. This one sounds like one of those warning tales. At certain periods of time some authors would write novellas where characters came to a bad ending based on not following certain rules or morality. The story was often lauded for its moral teaching. These were mostly in colonial times…like Charlotte Temple by Susanna Rowson, which was after American Revolution I believe.

    • Ethan Frome was good, but from what I’ve read so far, it’s one of my least favourite by Wharton. I guess your husband just didn’t enjoy Wharton’s stories or style of writing, LOL

  • I have only seen a movie..or was a tvseries based on her books

  • le sigh, dunno if I commented or not

    • You did 🙂 Was it The Age of Innocence (movie)?

      • Ok good 😀 I have had a bit of trouble with chrome lately and everything is a mess. Yup that one and…more?

        • Ok, I have seen that one, but I don’t remember much, because it was llooonnnggg ago.

  • Is this a short one, too? It’s so funny sometimes how un-exciting sexual awakening can be in old books! 😀

    • Yes, it’s a novella. About 130 pages. I’m yet to read a full length novel of hers, I’m thinking The Age of Innocence, since it’s on my classics club list.

      Yeah, I was like “it’s not THAT bad”, but back in the day I’m sure the ladies were clutching their pearls 😛

  • I really liked Summer, I’m glad to hear you did too!

    • Yep 🙂 Did you read Ethan Frome?

      • I did! I actually liked Summer a bit better, maybe because I read it first? Maybe because it had better weather and no attempted suicide by sled? Hard to say.

        • Lol! Ok, I liked Summer better too…

  • It is on my Classics Club list! Hoping to read it soon since it’s on the short side. Thanks for the review 🙂

  • I need to read Ethan Frome first, but this one is definitely going on my list along with Xingu.

  • The only Edith Wharton I have read was Ethan Frome and I really enjoyed it, despite it being so depressing. Maybe this will be my next.

    • I liked Ethan Frome too, but I like this one better. Enjoy!

  • I felt so bad for Charity in this one but I greatly enjoyed this title as a whole! Perhaps not as much as The House of Mirth or The Age of Innocence but there was a lot of food for thought in this one 🙂 I really need to read another book of hers soon…it’s been a while!

    Great review 🙂

    • Thanks Lianne! I still need to read The House of Mirth and The Age of Innocence, the latter I believe will be my next Wharton read!

  • I haven’t read this one yet but definitely will. I’ve read Wharton’s House of Mirth and Age of Innocence and loved them both.

    • Another person that liked those two titles! I will have to read them soon 🙂

  • I read The Age of Innocence and really liked it… I haven’t read this one yet, but it sounds great. Thanks for the review!

    • The Age of Innocence is definitely my next Wharton read….

  • Isi

    I still haven’t read this author, but I want to!!
    I have to confess I didn’t know this title, but well, if you think it’s a light classic, I should take it into account for my Classics Club list 🙂

    • You should! She wrote a few novellas and I’ve been reading them. I’m still to read one of her full length novels. Xingu was quite funny 🙂

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