I have a very deep love for Edith Wharton. I am not really sure what exactly draws me to her writing, but I love everything I have read by her (which is pretty much everything, excepting a few novels that are more difficult to find). My first experience reading any of her work was back in my senior year of high school, when we were assigned to read Ethan Frome on the first day of school.
While I didn't love that little novella then, I gave it a second chance and adored it. Since then, I have read it over again almost every year and each time I read it, I find something new to love in Wharton's prose. She is a writer I truly admire for style and depth. Her stories always find a way inside me and linger.
I am reading a number of her novels for this challenge. I already finished Ethan Frome back in January, but I also have The House of Mirth, The Age of Innocence, and still left to read. The Glimpses of the Moon. Summer, a much smaller novel(la), is one that didn't make the cut, but I wanted to feature it anyway.
It is a significantly different novel than many of Wharton's other works. She very often writes about the well-to-do and upper society. In The Custom of the Country, she discusses at length the means in which many people make their way up in society, which is, the custom of the American country, otherwise known as the American Dream. And while she does focus on the upper class quite often, she really likes to torture her characters. If anyone has read The House of Mirth, you know what I mean by that.
Unlike those society novels, Summer takes place in the country. And instead of having a rich young woman as the heroine, we have Charity Royall, an adopted daughter of the "mountain people." She is an uneducated woman, but works in the town's library. It is there that she meets Lucius Harney and falls in love.
The novel focuses a lot on their love affair, and Charity's awakening as a sexual woman. She discovers what love is and what it means to be a woman. Obviously, things don't go well for Charity (I don't want to give away the plot).
It is a wonderful novella and strikingly different than Wharton's other well-known novels. If you haven't given Wharton a try, I definitely suggest this, but in my opinion, anything by Wharton is well worth it and excellent!