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3.66 of 5 stars 3.66  ·  rating details  ·  6,771 ratings  ·  542 reviews
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 proud and independent Charity Royall, a child of mountain moonshiners adopted by a family in a poor New England town, who has a passionate love ...more
Paperback, 150th Anniversary Edition, 214 pages
Published January 1st 1993 by Signet (first published 1917)
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this book is touted as "edith wharton's most erotic book". the introduction blabs on and on about its eroticism, and how scandalous it is. so i have devised a little drinking game. i invite you - i entreat you - to prepare a shot glass with your favorite scotch or whiskey, and do a shot every time you start feeling a little hot from all the sexy good times. i pretty much guarantee that shot glass will be untouched by the end of your readings. this book is not erotic, even in the broadest, most m ...more
Charity Royall. I loved her, hated her, sympathized with her, and cried for her.

She's a young woman at age 19, bored with her life in a small New England town. Adopted by Lawyer Royall at a young age, she was saved from a life of poverty on the "mountain". One would think she would have been grateful, but not Charity. She hates Mr. Royall for what she sees as her imprisonment in small town drudgery, and also for his proposal of marriage.

Enter Lucius Harney, sophisticated man about town; a young
As much as I am fond of Edith Wharton's work, every time she writes about them poor peoples, I am weary. Her Ethan Frome, describing woes of some peasants, wasn't authentic or credible enough, IMO, and neither is Summer.

The main character in this novella, Charity Royall, was "brought down from the Mountains" in infancy and raised by a big wig lawyer in a tiny town of North Dormer. Charity is smart, albeit not particularly educated, and holds a very peculiar position in town. She is too good for
Feb 01, 2014 Lobstergirl rated it 3 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Maureen McDonnell
Shelves: fiction

Intensely creepy and sordid. Although the novel's main plot is the romance between Charity Royall and her handsome young beau Lucius, I couldn't get past the whole incest thing (view spoiler). There's also some extreme poverty herein which is almost painful to read about (much worse than in Ethan Frome - I'm talking some near animalistic
Jun 04, 2009 Sherien rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: everyone who loves edith wharton
Recommended to Sherien by: boof
Shelves: 20th-century
…She had always thought of love as something confused and furtive, and he made it as bright and open as the summer air…

This is a story about a young girl from a very low social status who lives in a dull, dreary, 'sunless' world and does not have many options to alter that situation. This goes on until one summer a man enters her life, turns her world up side down, and sparks some light of hope of happiness. Will her relationship with this man finally bring a brighter light to her dark world?
Oct 01, 2007 Karen rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: everyone
This is a book about a girl's sexual awakening and the pure pleasure she derives from it. Of course, there are consequences involved, especially since this is a poor girl near the bottom of the social ladder in a small western New England town.

Summer is very different from The House of Mirth or The Age of Innocence where sex was either avoided, unfulfilled or occured offstage. This book deals with both sexuality and class distinction and touches on incest as well. While these topics are openly
Edith Wharton once again manages to draw me into one of her stories - a relatively simple novella, where much is at stake for the main character, Charity, who seems to be a mix of other of Wharton’s heroines (she’s feisty, opinionated and isolated). There is a lot to stand in a young woman’s way: There are the opinions of other people, as in Wharton’s New York based novels, and there is the bleak, forbidding countryside (or mountain, in this one) as in Ethan Frome. Above all, there are society’s ...more
Edith Wharton was certainly a lady who could put words to a page that could definitely propel a reader quickly through a book. It was certainly true with this novel. Simply stated and told, it is a novel of the awakening of a young, unsure, woman, Charity, who seems held back in attitude by her questionable roots. Born to an unwed mother in a mountain community of dirt and squalor, she is rescued by the Royall family after her father is convicted of manslaughter. Raised within this household, Ch ...more
Christopher H.
Edith Wharton's novella, Summer (1917), while still very Ethan Frome-ish, is the antithesis of the frosty and wintry characters and landscape of Ethan Frome. Summer is charged with an erotic undercurrent that runs through it. The novella starts in the Spring with young Charity Royall daydreaming in a meadow full of wildflowers, buzzing insects, birds singing, and the sap coursing through the branches of the trees with new leaves unfurling. Her world has just emerged from the cold grip of winter, ...more
Jenny Blounts
I loved this book so much more than I thought I would! It has all of the compelling romance and drama that one would expect from a short novella about the sexual coming-of-age of a young woman in a small New England town and, admittedly, that's what kept me turning the pages. However, Wharton is no writer of silly, frivolous romances. The story of Charity Royall is also one of complex class structures, gender limitations, the discovery of one's identity, and missed opportunities.

Charity Royall,
Wharton - one of my top top favorites - calls this short novel the "hot Ethan Frome" and that's exactly right: it's very similar to EF, and very different from most of her novels, in many ways. And yet - you see glimmers of what become hallmarks for her, for example, her adoptive father and his ways echo or foreshadow Mr. Rosedale, and the internal monologue and subtle and slow change in perception of these men, by each heroine, glimmer with the other. I've always thought of Ethan Frome as so ve ...more
Elizabeth (Alaska)
Such a short, sad tale.

Charity Royall was "brought down from the mountain" into a town at the edges of civilization, northwestern Massachusetts I believe. But the household seems not to have been a loving one. The Summer of the title Charity is about 18 years old. She is uneducated and unsophisticated and very very lonely.

Wharton writes of Charity so that I felt great empathy for her. Charity yearns for love and life as do most young women, but her hope in achieving it is small. Summer brings a
It's some book that make you dislike a character but yet fall for her over time, that can make you never want to live in a forgotten little place like that while all the time making you love to feel the sun on your face, marvel at the butterflies and smell the flowers on the mountain. Very clever.

This is the story of Charity Royall, a young, bored girl in a backwater town. When a stranger arrives, things start to get more interesting for her. I don't want to write any more than that for fear of
Sometimes when I reread parts of The Mill on the Floss, I wonder what Maggie Tulliver would have done if the flood never happened. By the end of that novel it feels so impossible for her to move forward, but of course in reality people keep living through impossible situations all the time. It almost feels like George Eliot can't bear that fate for Maggie. It's too heartbreaking to think of what might have come next for her.

Summer has been keeping me awake at night for the past week, and I think
Edith Wharton: a queen of New England gothic literature despite the fact that the majority of her works take place in the circles of upper class New York society from where she came. Summer is like a sister companion to the more popular Ethan Frome (a sort of winter sibling to Summer), equally dark and dismal. If you are familiar with Ethan Frome, I encourage you to read Summer regardless of your opinions of the former. I think Frome has outshined Summer in popularity in our time, perhaps becaus ...more
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 lectu ...more
Seemed appropriate to read this over Labor Day weekend, the last true summer weekend. However, this book seemed dark and a bit oppressive - it was hard to recall the 'summer' atmostphere other than by mentions of extreme heat.

I had a hard time relating to Charity Royall, or even seeing her as a character with whom I could empathize. She seemed merely stubborn, overly proud, and then, unfortunately, naive.

Not to give away the ending, but her marriage at the end seems more a sign that she has gi
Moonlight Reader
People refer to this as Wharton's most erotic book. I disagree with that characterization - I think that The Age of Innocence, with its unrequited, simmering passion between Countess Olenska and Newland Archer is much more erotic.

Charity Royall is a young woman who has been raised by Lawyer Royall in North Dormer, a small New England town. Her family comes from the mountain, a poverty-stricken area. At some point, Lawyer Royall finds himself attracted to the young woman and proposes to marry her
I just finished this as a book on tape, during my journeys back and forth between Rochester and Syracuse. Just like The House of Mirth (the only other Wharton I've read, if I recall), Wharton really catches the various subtle ways, as James Brown sang so well, "it's a man's world." The old double-standard of women running the risk of pregnancy by acting on their sexual desires for men and the men seemingly suffering no consequences...
I made an edit to my review because the story is intense. A story that stayed with me. I have been thinking about it since I finished the book. The writing style was amazing, beautiful descriptions of time and place. The main character, Charity was selfish, obnoxious and not very smart. She came from the wrong side of the tracks, the mountain. The mountain was where the poor and ex convicts lived. Descriptions of the mountain people were vivid, one dimensional. It really made the point of the ha ...more
Described as her ‘hot Ethan’ Summer was written by Edith Wharton in a burst of feverish creativity during a holiday she took from her WW1 relief work. In style and tone Summer is certainly similar to Ethan Frome, here too, we have a rural setting among people far removed from the protagonists of Wharton’s novels of upper class society.

In this exquisite novel, small town prejudices meet the sudden awakening of passions in a young woman whose life has been one of lonely, unhappiness in her isolate
This is a fantastically feminist book that shows a young woman, Charity Royall, whose independence, identity, and happiness is taken away from her on the whim of a couple of men. Wharton's ability to show things for how they are is uncanny, and in this novel takes classically romantic themes and portrays them with a cruel irony.

This book is not just an attack on the patriarchal male. This book is an illustration of the destructive nature of a patriarchal society as a whole. Even the women in the
Originally published on The Book Musings

ummer 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
I loved this book so much more than I thought I would! It has all of the compelling romance and drama that one would expect from a short novella about the sexual coming-of-age of a young woman in a small New England town and, admittedly, that's what kept me turning the pages. However, Wharton is no writer of silly, frivolous romances. The story of Charity Royall is also one of complex class structures, gender limitations, the discovery of one's identity, and missed opportunities.

Charity Royall,
Brenda Sorrels
This book was part of a recent blog posting I did at so I'll just give the "gist" of it here.

I tried to read this book freshman year in college, but I couldn't get into it. This time I let the cover make me believe I was in for a perfect "summer" read, and delved in knowing really nothing about the nature of the book. I was in for a surprise. Wharton's main character, Charity, is young and unformed, a time in her life when first love seems to be everything, a
Barb Terpstra
This is the first book I've read by Edith Wharton I think (it's possible I read "The Age of Innocence" but I'm not 100% certain).

This book centers around a girl, her name is Charity, who is, in fact a charity case. She was brought "down from the mountain" which, in her town, would be where all the undesireables live. Charity has a complicated relationship with her guardian, Mr. Royall. Although he is the one who brought her down from the mountain, she views him as a hard man who does not care fo
This is the first time that I’ve revisited Wharton since having thrust upon me when I could properly appreciate her in high school. The flow of the narrative was simple and clear, but it was profound. I think that the sentences unadulterated by lofty adjectives and convoluted sentence structure that was sometimes preferred at the time very well suit the story that Wharton was telling.

Still, I remained unmoved by the story. I couldn’t connect with the characters; I couldn’t find myself sympathizi
Jul 29, 2010 Sera rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Fans of Edith Wharton or the classics in general
I really enjoy reading Edith Wharton novels. Similar to her others, she focuses on class differences as one of the themes in this book. However, unlike the others, instead of focusing on the upper echelons of society and who's in and who's out, she looks at the middle to low classes in this one. Interestingly, what happens to the characters in this story and how they act is so much more scandalous than anything that happened in The Age of Innocence. I wonder if Wharton's treatment of the charact ...more
Ayu Palar
Apr 30, 2010 Ayu Palar rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Ayu by: Sherien
Shelves: classics
If you have read Wharton’s novels before, I believe you already know that Wharton never offered us a happy ending. Without meaning to spoil you all, I will say that Summer doesn’t give you a happy ending either. However, when I closed this book, I must say that I’m satisfied with the ending. I think the protagonist character, Charity Royall, deserves it.

Summer is a story about a girl’s sexual awakening. Charity falls in love for the first time with a young gentleman named Lucius Harney. They spe
The plot of Summer is a story that we are very familiar with. A young lower class girl in a small town falls in love with a visiting wealthy young man, and starts a sexual relationship with him under the assumption that he wants to marry her. But, when she gets pregnant, she realizes that he never intended to marry her. But Wharton tells this story with such unique characters (and a slight plot twist) that it makes this novella an enjoyable read as well as giving you something to ponder about hu ...more
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Edith Newbold Jones was born into such wealth and privilege that her family inspired the phrase "keeping up with the Joneses." The youngest of three children, Edith spent her early years touring Europe with her parents and, upon the family's return to the United States, enjoyed a privileged childhood in New York and Newport, Rhode Island. Edith's creativity and talent soon became obvious: By the a ...more
More about Edith Wharton...
The Age of Innocence The House of Mirth Ethan Frome Ethan Frome and Other Short Fiction The Custom of the Country

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“...though she had not had the strength to shake off the spell that bound her to him she had lost all spontaneity of feeling, and seemed to herself to be passively awaiting a fate she could not avert.” 66 likes
“How I hate everything!” 14 likes
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