Jump to content
bobblybear

Summer by Edith Wharton

Recommended Posts

Welcome to the August Reading Circle. :smile:

 

This month we are discussing Summer by Edith Wharton.

 

It is assumed that you have read the book before reading posts in this thread, as the discussion might give away crucial points, and the continuous use of spoiler tags might hinder fluent reading of posts.

 

Here are some questions below which will hopefully aid in the discussion.

 

Who was your favourite character?

 

Who was your least favourite character?

 

Was there a particular part you enjoyed more than the rest?

Was this the first book you've read in this genre/ by this author, has it encouraged you to read more?

Were there any parts/ideas you struggled with?

Overall, was reading the book an enjoyable experience?

 

How has Charity changed (come of age) throughout the novel?

 

What were Harley's intentions? Did he have feelings for Charity, or was he simply using her?

 

Were Royall's intentions purely honorable?

 

How do you feel about the ending? Did Charity make the right decision?

 

 

Hopefully these questions will fuel some discussions. You are more than welcome to add your own.

 

May the discussions begin! :smile:

 



 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Who was your favourite character?
I’m not sure I really had a favourite character – none of them seemed particularly nice, certainly in North Dormer! Liff Hyatt, despite the fact that some of the girls “ran when they saw him” seemed kind and was certainly kind to Charity.

Who was your least favourite character?
Lucius Harney, without a doubt – what a snake! He did a terrible thing, leading Charity on and allowing her to believe he was in love with her – when all the time he was engaged to be married. In the time period when this was set, Charity would have been shunned by her community if she kept the baby as an unmarried mother. I know it takes two to make a baby, but I truly believe that Charity was naïve and that Lucius, on the other hand, knew exactly what he wanted, and took it without a second thought as to what that would do to Charity.

Was there a particular part you enjoyed more than the rest?
Not really. I thought it was a good, enjoyable story which kept my interest. I quite enjoyed the glimpses we got of the people from the mountain and their unconventional lives.

Was this the first book you've read in this genre/ by this author, has it encouraged you to read more?
It’s the first Edith Wharton book I’ve read. I’d like to try some more of hers – I have The Age of Innocence, which I started once before but didn’t get into it – I think that was more to do with my frame of mind at the time. I will definitely try that again at some stage.

Were there any parts/ideas you struggled with?
No! Royall’s behaviour towards Charity after his wife died was pretty deplorable, but I didn’t struggle with reading it.

Overall, was reading the book an enjoyable experience?
Yes, I enjoyed the story and I loved the prose. The characterisation was very good.

How has Charity changed (come of age) throughout the novel?
I guess she grew up a bit, due to her circumstances. I still thought she was pretty immature at the end of the book though!

What were Harley's intentions? Did he have feelings for Charity, or was he simply using her?
I think his intention was to charm Charity so that he could sleep with her. I’m sure he had some feelings for her but he was definitely using her. I don’t think he had any intention of breaking off his engagement to be with her.

Were Royall's intentions purely honourable?
As I said above, his initial behaviour towards Charity after his wife died was pretty deplorable considering he was her adoptive father. However, I think that at the end of the book his intentions were honourable. He knew Charity was pregnant, and he also knew how this would lead her to be treated by people – she was a fallen woman and had even considered becoming like Julia Hawes (a play on the word whore?!), a prostitute, in order to provide for her child, who she assumed would be taken in by “decent people” and cared for.  By marrying her, Royall ensured this didn't happen.

How do you feel about the ending? Did Charity make the right decision?
It was the ending I was expecting.

 

In the circumstances I think Charity made the right decision for herself and her unborn child – and Royall certainly seemed to be kind to her at the end, and although he wanted her earlier on in the book, he took her on knowing she was expecting someone else’s child, in order for her not to be humiliated – so hopefully things worked out for them. :)

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

 

Who was your favourite character?

 

I don't think I had a favorite character. I found Charity to be a bit bratty, though I think she came good in the end, but I didn't really like her much. She just seemed like a child always wanting her way.

 

Who was your least favourite character?

 

I hated Dr Merkle - what a vile woman! All throughout Charity's dealings with her, I could really feel my blood boil. What a subhuman cowbag!

 

And of course, Harney goes without saying. I thought he was pathetic and weak.

 

Was there a particular part you enjoyed more than the rest?

 

I liked the parts where 'the Mountain' was referred to. Not quite sure why, but I think I was intrigued what it would be like and how much of a contrast it would be to North Dormer. North Dormer was a bit too pretty and perfect, while 'the Mountain' would have been a great contrast.

 

Was this the first book you've read in this genre/ by this author, has it encouraged you to read more?

 

Well, it's the first book I've read by the author; not exactly sure what the genre is - classic fiction? It could hardly be called a romance for everything that happened. I would certainly give other books by Edith Wharton a try, but part of me felt I enjoyed it because it wasn't overlong.

 

Were there any parts/ideas you struggled with?

 

It took me a while to figure Lawyer Royall out. When he tried to get into Charity's bedroom at night, I wondered if I was missing something as she was his adoptive daughter. Of course, the idea that he ended up marrying her.....well surely that would be just as scandalous to the townsfolk as her having a baby?

 

Overall, was reading the book an enjoyable experience?

 

Yes, it was much better than I thought it would be. I struggle with classics, due to the language and style used, but this one felt like it was quite a contemporary novel (aside from the setting).

 

How has Charity changed (come of age) throughout the novel?

 

I don't think she seems any 'older and wiser' at the end of the book, judging by her last letter to Harney ('I will always remember you.') It seems like she has given him a fond farewell, instead of the 'what for' she should have done. She actually doesn't seem too much changed or devastated by her situation; she came across as far too practical rather than emotional, I think.

What were Harley's intentions? Did he have feelings for Charity, or was he simply using her?

 

I don't think he initially intended to be devious or use her, or maybe I'm just thinking that because I think of using a woman for sex as a more modern theme. I don't know... I was puzzled by it when I finished the book. I think he was a pathetic and weak character but part of me thinks he really loved Charity but couldn't break off his engagement to Annabel for fear of losing face.

 

Were Royall's intentions purely honorable?

 

I think towards the end they were, when he offered to marry her. I do think he did it to protect her, rather than to have her as his wife. However, his actions before (trying to enter her bedroom and when she met him on her outing with Harney) suggest he was quite enamored with her and wanted a romantic/sexual relationship. Eww.

 

How do you feel about the ending? Did Charity make the right decision?

 

I think she made the right decision for her unborn child, but personally I wish she had stayed up in the Mountains because it would have been a more interesting ending.

Edited by bobblybear

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Was this the first book you've read in this genre/ by this author, has it encouraged you to read more?

 

Well, it's the first book I've read by the author; not exactly sure what the genre is - classic fiction? It could hardly be called a romance for everything that happened. I would certainly give other books by Edith Wharton a try, but part of me felt I enjoyed it because it wasn't overlong.

 

Edith Wharton wrote quite a lot of short stories as well (ghost stories as well as the more conventional subjects tackled by her novels), and I know there are a couple of collections available, if you wanted to try something else by her but didn't feel like tackling another novel.  She actually wrote one of my all time favourite short stories, The Other Two.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Who was your favourite character?


Like Janet, I thought that Liff Hyatt seemed kindhearted, and he probably counted as my favourite.  I actually had a bit of a soft spot for Lawyer Royall too, despite his trying to get into Charity's room early in the book; in those days marrying a girl carrying someone else's child would have been a really big deal, I think.

 

Who was your least favourite character?


Oh my, Dr Merkle for sure.  What a sleaze!  She was just an awful character.  According to Wikipedia, in some editions of the novel Charity just grabs the brooch and rushes out of the office rather than giving all her money to Dr Merkle.  I wish my edition had that version!


Was there a particular part you enjoyed more than the rest?

 

No, I enjoyed the whole book really.


Was this the first book you've read in this genre/ by this author, has it encouraged you to read more?

 

Edith Wharton is one of my favourite authors.  The first book by her I read was The House of Mirth (I collect Folio Society books, and bought it as part of my yearly membership one year) and I enjoyed it so much I went out and bought every paperback by her that W H Smith had!  Glancing along my bookshelves, I can see 14 of her books, some of which I have read quite a few times.


Were there any parts/ideas you struggled with?

 

It was quite a while since I had read the book last and had forgotten most of it, and like bobblybear found it hard to get my head around Lawyer Royall and his feelings towards Charity at first.  However, they weren't blood relations and he had never actually adopted her, so while trying to get into a young lady's bedroom (particularly one that he had brought up) certainly wasn't nice behaviour, I didn't think it was particularly scandalous.

Overall, was reading the book an enjoyable experience?


Yes, I enjoyed the story very much.

 

How has Charity changed (come of age) throughout the novel?


Well, she had fallen in love and had a physical relationship of course, she had discovered just how untrustworthy people can be, and she had had to take action for herself on quite a few occasions instead of the sheltered and pretty indolent life it seemed to me she led before.  But I'm not sure it had improved her character any!  I hope she was kind to Lawyer Royall in their married life but I can imagine her leading him a bit of a dance.

 

What were Harley's intentions? Did he have feelings for Charity, or was he simply using her?
 

I think he probably did have feelings for her, but in terms of the fact that he was engaged and made no effort to break that off, he did use her very shabbily.


Were Royall's intentions purely honorable?


I feel his intentions were more honorable than not; particularly his offering to force Harney to marry Charity after he learned of their relationship when he obviously had feelings for her himself.  When he married her, I guess they were both getting something they wanted - she, Lawyer Royall's protection and support for both herself and her child; and he, being able to marry someone he had asked to marry him before and had feelings for.


How do you feel about the ending? Did Charity make the right decision?

 

Practically speaking, yes, I definitely do; it was the only way her child could have a comfortable and respectable life with its mother.  Morally, I'm not so sure.  Marrying someone she didn't love and despised for his previous behaviour to get herself out of a tight spot doesn't seem terribly right; although, as I said above, I hope she was kind to Lawyer Royall after their marriage.  If she was, then hopefully it could be a positive outcome for them both (well, all three of them!)

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I've closed my eyes to above posts, as I downloaded Summer to read for the group.  I'll get to it as soon as I finish my current read. :)

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I quite enjoyed the glimpses we got of the people from the mountain and their unconventional lives.

 

I wish we heard a bit more about the people from the mountain. I know it was described in a bit more detail towards the end when Charity went back there, but I think the 'mountain people' would have interesting stories to tell!, and I would have like to have seen more of a contrast between the 'haves' and 'have-nots'.

 

No! Royall’s behaviour towards Charity after his wife died was pretty deplorable, but I didn’t struggle with reading it.

 

Yeah, that was a bit grim, and at first I wasn't sure I was reading it correctly. I mean he had raised Charity since she was 5 years old, and in my mind that makes her his daughter (whether biological or not). And then marrying her as well..... :thud: I know he did it to protect her honor, but it is quite gross!

 

I guess she grew up a bit, due to her circumstances. I still thought she was pretty immature at the end of the book though!

 

She definitely seemed as naive at the end as she was in the beginning. I found it strange that she wasn't bitter or angry about what happened; she seemed just so carefree towards Harney after he moved away.

 

Edith Wharton wrote quite a lot of short stories as well (ghost stories as well as the more conventional subjects tackled by her novels), and I know there are a couple of collections available, if you wanted to try something else by her but didn't feel like tackling another novel.  She actually wrote one of my all time favourite short stories, The Other Two.

 

Thanks, Ooshie - I will keep an eye out for her short stories. I think I would prefer to try them before tackling a full length novel, only because I know my reading tastes, and that I tend to struggle with classics.  

 

Oh my, Dr Merkle for sure.  What a sleaze!  She was just an awful character.  According to Wikipedia, in some editions of the novel Charity just grabs the brooch and rushes out of the office rather than giving all her money to Dr Merkle.  I wish my edition had that version!

 

Like I said, she was my least favorite character too. What a vile, witch of a woman! I would have expected some compassion, but there was none whatsoever. She didn't hesitate to take full advantage for her own gain.

 

I hope she was kind to Lawyer Royall in their married life but I can imagine her leading him a bit of a dance.

 

I'm sure she would take advantage of him whenever she could to provide for herself and her child, but I also think he knew what he would be getting himself into.

 

 

By the way, did everyone not think she had the ideal job at the library? I know she hated it, and neglected the books but I would have loved spending time in a small community library like that!!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

We're nearly halfway through the month - some other people must have read the book! C'mon, this poor thread is getting mighty lonely! :hide:

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Who was your favourite character?

I'm not sure to be honest, I didn't really like most of the characters.

 

Who was your least favourite character?

Dr. Merkle, I can't find anything positive about her whatsoever. It was so mean what she did! I liked Harley in the beginning but not any more later on, once we find out what a mean person he is.

 

Was there a particular part you enjoyed more than the rest?

Not particularly, though I enjoyed hearing about the little library.

 

Was this the first book you've read in this genre/ by this author, has it encouraged you to read more?

I haven't read any books by Edith Wharton before. I had to look up quite a few words (easy on the Kindle, gladly!) and some structures were weird to me, but other than that I felt it read like a contemporary written historical novel. Genre wise I have it classed as literature and indeed I do plan on reading more of that. This book did encourage me to do so, I found it to be relatively readable. I own The Age of Innocence in paperback, so I'll read that sometime.

 

Were there any parts/ideas you struggled with?

Only the words and structures that were unfamiliar to me (mainly language from back then, words used back in those days).

 

Overall, was reading the book an enjoyable experience?

Yes, it was. Though the story isn't without its flaws, I did enjoy it.

 

How has Charity changed (come of age) throughout the novel?

I feel she has changed a bit but I would've liked to see a greater change.

 

What were Harley's intentions? Did he have feelings for Charity, or was he simply using her?

I think he may have had feelings for her, however it was wrong to act upon them as long as he was in a relationship (engaged even) with another woman.

 

Were Royall's intentions purely honorable?

No, in the end he did an honorable thing (though, like others, I find it weird that he'd want to marry someone he'd consider a daughter to him) but earlier on in the book he was mean to Charity and abused her. 

 

How do you feel about the ending? Did Charity make the right decision?

I think for her child she did, however whether she will be happy this way I don't know. I would've liked a different ending, I guess a more feministic one, where she'd go out and find a job and take care of the baby herself. But considering its time, those things didn't happen back then. It wasn't a bad ending, though. It made sense, though I didn't see it coming. 

 

By the way, did everyone not think she had the ideal job at the library? I know she hated it, and neglected the books but I would have loved spending time in a small community library like that!!

x

It sounded really nice to me.

 

P. S. Can we pin this thread and unpin the July one?

Edited by Athena

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

We're nearly halfway through the month - some other people must have read the book! C'mon, this poor thread is getting mighty lonely! :hide:

 

I tried.  Twice.  Maybe I just don't care for Wharton, the style of writing isn't to my taste, at all.  The opening of her in the hated library just put me off even more.

I'm not saying never, but it's highly unlikely I'll read Summer.  Kudos to those that did!  :flowers2:

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

My wife just finished "The Age Of Innocence" by Edith Wharton and thoroughly enjoyed it. As a result I have downloaded for her 4 more of Edith Wharton's books from Amazon:

 

The Custom Of The Country

The House Of Mirth

Summer

Ethan Frome

 

All of these books are available....FREE.....no cost.....from Amazon Books. Don't search on kindle books but go to "books" and then type in Edith Wharton.

Edited by muggle not

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I tried.  Twice.  Maybe I just don't care for Wharton, the style of writing isn't to my taste, at all.  The opening of her in the hated library just put me off even more.

I'm not saying never, but it's highly unlikely I'll read Summer.  Kudos to those that did!  :flowers2:

 

:D  At least you gave it a go. Nothing worse than reading something you're hating. :D

 

My wife just finished "The Age Of Innocence" by Edith Wharton and thoroughly enjoyed it. As a result I have downloaded for her 4 more of Edith Wharton's books from Amazon:

 

The Custom Of The Country

The House Of Mirth

Summer

Ethan Frome

 

All of these books are available....FREE.....no cost.....from Amazon Books. Don't search on kindle books but go to "books" and then type in Edith Wharton.

 

Just as a suggestion, how about reading Summer next, so this thread can get a bit more activity? :giggle2::blush:

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

My wife just finished "The Age Of Innocence" by Edith Wharton and thoroughly enjoyed it. As a result I have downloaded for her 4 more of Edith Wharton's books from Amazon:

 

The Custom Of The Country

The House Of Mirth

Summer

Ethan Frome

 

All of these books are available....FREE.....no cost.....from Amazon Books. Don't search on kindle books but go to "books" and then type in Edith Wharton.

 

 

:D  At least you gave it a go. Nothing worse than reading something you're hating. :D

 

 

Just as a suggestion, how about reading Summer next, so this thread can get a bit more activity? :giggle2::blush:

 

Go on muggle!  BB has a great idea!  Since I don't like it, you probably will......... :giggle2:

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I have the book BB but sadly have little time to read at the moment, all Jojo's fault! :D

 

That's totally understandable. When we got Reuben, I only finished one book in that first month. :o:giggle2:

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now



×