Summer is often referred to as Wharton’s “erotic novel” and the description is apt if one considers that the most powerful eroticism comes from one’s own mind.
Considered by some to be among her finest work, 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 follows the life 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 affair with a young rake. Lucius Harney, an educated young man from the city. But Charity soon finds herself pregnant and unmarried — a cruel combination in the 1900s.
Praised for its realism and candor by such writers as Joseph Conrad and Henry James and compared to Flaubert's Madame Bovary, Summer was one of Wharton's personal favorites, and remains as relevant today as when it was first published.
EDITH WHARTON (1862-1937), one of the greatest American authors, transformed the art of fiction. The Pulitzer Prize winning author of numerous novels and short stories, including The House of Mirth, Ethan Frome, The Age of Innocence, and The Descent of Man, she is considered to be a literary colossus, and a central figure in the development of the modern novel.
"Perhaps, the greatest female novelist that America has yet produced."
—Cynthia Griffin Wolff