Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Summer (by Edith Wharton)

I can't write about this one without a ton of spoilers so--spoilers! I went and read this one on the advice of some people on Snarkfest who said they liked it more than Age of Innocence, which of course I love. But I was underwhelmed. It's The Awakening meets Heaven by V.C. Andrews.

Charity is a girl from a small town who rejects ambition and education in favor of physical pleasure. The book is well written (especially all the "blossoming womanhood" metaphors) and the sexual elements are handled forthrightly. But of course, it all ends badly. My initial reaction was that it was irritating in its predictability, but I take the point of this critic, who says, "it is a nice piece of muted irony that Charity has not read the books around her in her own library, books that would tell her the inevitable end of her relationship with Harney." That's not only true, but interesting.

Another critic (here) points out the interesting Freudian elements of the text. Of course, the author also fails to realize that the marriage that ends the book is not in the least "positive." It is complete subjugation and even possibly incest. We want to wish the best for Charity and think that her husband is really a hero, but come on. I think that's wishful thinking.

It's well written, of course, because it's Wharton. In examining a sexual awakening, I guess it's brave. But I didn't find Charity all that sympathetic, in the end, and the inevitable tragic ending didn't excite me.


Blogger Purl said...

I love Edith Wharton, especially Age of Innocence and House of Mirth. Like you, I was let down by Summer.

11:10 AM  

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