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Summary

Written in Paris in 1916 as Edith Wharton contemplated the German army's approach, Summer is her most erotic and lyrical novel. The setting for the book, however, is far away from Paris, in the same rigid New England she used for Ethan Frome. It is here that she explores her most daring theme, a woman's awakening to her sexual needs.

The book's heroine is an 18-year-old girl named Charity Royall. Living in the small town of North Dormer, she is ignorant of desire until she meets a visiting architect, Lucius Harney. Like the succulent summer in the beautiful Berkshires around them, their romance is lush and picturesque, but its consequences are harsh and real.

(P)1994 Blackstone Audiobooks

Critic reviews

"Reader Grace Conlin distinguishes both men's and women's voices easily, using hushed, intimate tones to convey the sweetness of the romance. Yet an ephemeral quality in her delivery casts a shadow of reality on the story and reminds the listener that seasons change." ( AudioFile)

What listeners say about Summer

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    5 out of 5 stars

Summer (unabridged), Edith Wharton

This was my first audiobook download and I loved it so much that I stayed awake until 2.00 a.m. to hear it out. The reader perfectly captured the elegant, ironic tone of the writing without sentimentality. The story itself never falters, moving rapidly from one development to another while perfectly encapsulating both character and setting. It is extraordinary to think that this story of a small town girl's sexual awakening, understanding and betrayal was written in 1916.

2 people found this helpful

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Heartbreaking and beautiful

Charity is a wonderful protagonist, and the ending is so heartbreaking.

Lovely narrator, who brought the story to life.

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    5 out of 5 stars
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  • lilyglint
  • 23-08-04

Excellent first audible purchase!

Grace Conlin is a great reader. At first I thought she was going to be too fast, but her pacing is excellent. She sweeps you right into the story. And this is a concise Wharton tale. Similar tragic tones to her other books. However, some lovely descriptions of New England countryside in the summer. A sad contrast to her heroine. I'm not done yet, about half way, but I find myself looking for excuses to pop in the headphones and listen.

11 people found this helpful

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    4 out of 5 stars
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  • Alicia Czechowski
  • 15-02-09

basic, satisfying Wharton

The central character, Charity Royall, I found unsympathetic, but her troubles are vivid as she faces the traditional moral struggle of virtue vs restraint with convincing small-minded impulsiveness.

Wharton is wise and worldly. Her understanding of the primacy of trivial things in relationships is profound. Charity blunders stupidly through life in a very human way. This is not a great novel like The House of Mirth, but Wharton weaves melodrama out of the stuff of an ordinary life.

The reader is very good, except for the occasional odd pronunciation.

6 people found this helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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  • Betty Besio
  • 16-06-08

The negative reviews frightened me

but I found the story enchanting, enthralling and somewhat ominously predictable. My first Edith Wharton but I believe I'll try another.

6 people found this helpful

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  • Debra Garfinkle
  • 08-04-15

My favorite Wharton book so far

This is the third book of hers I've read. It's the least depressing, which is a good thing in my opinion. E. Wharton wrote beautiful prose and also knew how to tell a fast-paced story. My book club had a very lively discussion about class, gender, marriage, nature, and other interesting issues raised by this book.

3 people found this helpful

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  • Jennifer
  • 26-07-12

It's Okay

Would you recommend this book to a friend? Why or why not?

I'm trying to get through all of Wharton's novels- I'd recommend this to a Wharton fan but not necessarily someone looking for that all encompassing "good read". It was scandalous at the time but it sort of has a predictable ending and I wasn't particularly satisfied with the heroine.

If you’ve listened to books by Edith Wharton before, how does this one compare?

There wasn't anything particularly wrong with the reader- I just didn't like her style. The reading felt very clipped and almost rushed.

Would you be willing to try another one of Grace Conlin’s performances?

Probably not.

2 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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  • Kenneth
  • 24-03-09

More complex than Ethan Frome

This novella may be compared to Ethan Frome in that it is about country people rather than about the wealthy about whom Edith Wharton more commonly wrote. And yet this novel is more complex and emotionally compelling than the more famous work. The tragedy of this young woman's life and her seemingly unavoidable doom is spellbinding.

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  • Reckoning
  • 05-10-20

Beguiling and Devastating

The Gilded Age indeed—gilded women in gilded cages. There is always a long suffering man who swoops down to rescue the wayward maiden. She is wayward in mind if not in body; intellectually if not in her determination to live as her authentic self. The wayward man slips embarrassedly but relievedly away without sanction.

The lover is this Wharton gem is beguiling. I was half seduced by him myself. Wharton’s descriptions of her wayward protagonist’s experiences are veiled but unmistakably erotic: The protagonist presses her body into the warm grass as she lolls on round hills, gazing into a shimmering blue sky. As she flowers in her lovers arms, Wharton lavishly describes the blooms of summer. There are many glimmering moon rises and piercing dawns; the
bulk of a mountain looming over the town are rolled out again and again lest the reader miss the point
But I don’t mind it because Wharton’s prose is a delight.

The story is devastating. Nothing has changed since this book was published in 1916. Women still have price tags dangling from them —the appraisals of men. The terms of value have changed; and the gilded cages much more disguised. But they serve the same devastating purpose.

1 person found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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  • Barbara
  • 23-04-10

Required "Summer" reading

Grace Conlin's initial rapid delivery of Edith Wharton's sensitive penetration of the Summer of adolescent dreams collapsing into the Fall of the realities of adult choices is worth the investment of the listener's patience. Once Conlin settles into her natural rhythm, she crafts a gem that should become the centerpiece of the setting of required summer reading for every high school girl--and her mother.

1 person found this helpful

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  • david mccandless
  • 01-03-21

Love gained. Love lost.

Edith Wharton’s book is beautifully written and full of wonderful imagery. It’s a story of hope and love, followed by a set of unfortunate circumstances that change a young inexperienced girl to a woman very quickly. “Summer” is a cautionary tale.

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  • Robert in Santa Cruz
  • 13-01-21

Well-written story, good narrator

I enjoyed listening to it as Edith Wharton is definitely one of America's Best novelists. The main character is very well drawn. I was somewhat disappointed with the somewhat melodramatic ending. The narrator did a terrific job: good energy and variety of voices.