One of Edith Wharton's personal favorites, Summer "breaks, or stretches, many conventions of romandc love stories and in the process creates a new picture of female sexuality" (Marilyn French, from the Introduction).
Like Wharton's more famous novel Ethan Frome, Summer is set in the Berkshires. But the chilly hills that set the background for Ethan's tentative, ill-fated romance have been replaced by a landscape bathed in sun -- and the figure at the center of Summer is a vibrant and passionate young woman, Charity Royall.
A New Englander of humble origins, Charity is swept into a torrid love affair with Lucien Harney, an artistically inclined young man from New York City. The conventions that rule society, however, are just as potent in Charity's world as in Ethan Frome's, and her dreams, like his, are inevitably thwarted.
In her refreshing Introduction, novelist Marilyn French delves into the themes of female sexuality and feminist sentiment present not only in this novel, but in Wharton's work as a whole. A bold, provocative work, Summer was an immediate sensation when it was first published in 1917, and stands as one of Wharton's greatest achievements.