Summer by Edith Wharton
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Filled with all the bittersweet promise of frustrated desire and forbidden love discovered and undone, Edith Wharton’s Summer has too long languished as an overlooked classic.
Written in bursts whilst Wharton performed charity work in France during the First World War, Summer drew an equal measure of fame and scandal upon first publication for its defiant depiction of female sexual awakening. Subsequently overshadowed by the success of her Pulitzer Prize-winning masterpiece The Age of Innocence, Summer exemplifies Wharton’s biting social critique and her sympathy for women imprisoned by convention and circumstance.
One of only two novels set in Wharton’s beloved sometime home of small-town New England but layered with the sensibilities of nineteenth-century European fiction, Summer follows the progress of Charity Royall. Frustrated by the limitations and petty-mindedness of home and the unwanted attentions of her adopted father, Charity begins a passionate affair with a charismatic outsider. Unlike Wharton – recently escaped from a stifling marriage to a new life in Europe - her heroine is not so fortunate.
Our favourite quote: 'She had always thought of love as something confused and furtive, and he made it as bright and open as the summer air.'
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