A tale of forbidden sexual passion and thwarted dreams played out against the lush, summer backdrop of the Massachusetts Berkshires Edith Wharton called Summer her ‘hot Ethan’. In their rural settings and their poor, uneducated protagonists, Summer (1916) and Ethan Frome represent a sharp departure from Wharton’s familiar depictions of the urban upper class. Charity Royall lives unhappily with her hard-drinking adoptive father in an isolated village, until a visiting architect awakens her sexual passion and the hope for escape. Exploring Charity’s relation to her father and her lover, Wharton delves into dark cultural territory- repressed sexuality, small-town prejudice, and, in subtle hints, incest.
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