“How I hate everything!” – Edith Wharton
Why I’m Reading this Book?
I’ve recently read Ethan Frome and this book also came in the collection. This book is short too and I’m a little bit behind my reading goal, so I’m starting with it.
Synopsis (No spoilers)
Story is about a girl named Charity who was adopted by Mr Royall. Mr Royall , a lawyer, is a widower and rich for the town they are living in. Charity though is adopted and came from inferior ranks (from the mountain), is a very proud young woman. She doesn’t mingle with everyone and has a sense of her own worth. She is working as a librarian and planning to save enough to get out of the town and live life as she wants.
One summer, in the library, she meets a guy named Lucius Harney and gradually falls for him. A passionate romance follows but amidst it, Charity is constantly thinking about her humble background, her education, her limits and impressions of all these things on their relationship. She is aware about town’s gossip but doesn’t care for it and living and enjoying the moment.
But will things carry on as Charity wants? Will passion overcome social upstanding? What will become of her? Will she be able to walk again with her head held high in her town or will she be counted as one of the ‘fallen women’ townspeople joke about? Read ‘Summer’ to know the answers of all these questions.
Book is very modern for the time it was written in(1917). It is not a conventional love story and created sensation in literary world. A girl like charity is supposed to be deferential, submissive and very meek. But Charity has the very opposites of all these qualities. She is a fierce girl who always speaks her mind.
She is very honest and conceals nothing. When she thinks her background may be a problem in her relationship, she tells about it to Harney immediately and waits for his reaction. She is inarticulate and tries to express things through her actions. Although emotional, she never uses her tears for extortion. Very few times, she cries in the book and she never begs. I’ve read few books of that time and such a strong character is usually exhibits by men.
So, it was really refreshing to read about Charity who is not a crying, whining, sacrificing but a very bold girl. May be mountain blood had something to do with it but she is a really different girl and everyone around her senses that. Plot is about and around Charity, her monologues, her insecurities, her passion, her desires and her fate.
Edith Wharton has a very descriptive style of writing. She can evoke the scene in front of you with her elaborate descriptions of wind, smell, emotions, people. She can make you care for her characters, be it the proud Charity or sad and lonely Mr Royall or ambitious and carefree Harney. All of these characters have their faults, but none is hateful. After ‘Ethan Frome’, I don’t regret reading this novel as well and have already added ‘Bunner Sister’ by Edith Wharton as my next reading.
My Rating — 2
On the scale of: (1- Hate , 2- Neither like nor dislike, 3- Like, 4- Love, 5- Gaga)
Why anyone else should read this Book?
Although modern for its time, this story is not very original for current times. I’ve read/heard/watched many stories like this and predicted the end very early. This is a story about summer and descriptive writing style of author made me really sleepy while reading this book. So if you are looking for originality, keep moving on.
However , if you really like reading something which will take you to the place and make you feel like a character of the story, this is the book. I’m reading this book in winter, but I could really feel summer during the reading.
Second, the book is very small (127 pages) and can be read very fast.
Finally, Charity is a very strong character and it’s really animating to read about such character in early 20th century. It’s breaking stereotypes and who doesn’t like that?
Have you read it? Are you planning to? What is your opinion? Share them here. Till next time, Happy Reading Folks!!! Love- Richa