“There it lay, a weather-beaten sunburnt village of the hills, abandoned of men, left apart by railway, trolley, telegraph, and all the forces that link life to life in modern communities. It had no shops, no theatres, no lectures, no ‘business block’; only a church that was opened every Sunday if the state of the roads permitted, and a library for which no new books had been bought in twenty years, and where the old ones mouldered undisturbed on the damp shelves. Yet Charity Royall had always been told that she ought to consider it a privilege that her lot had been cast in North Dormer.”
Charity resides in the bleak town of North Dormer under the care of her guardian, lawyer Royall, who brought her down from the Mountain, an impoverished area, as a young child. Royall has made advances toward her and wants to marry, although their age difference is large – Charity is only eighteen. Charity views him as an old, lonesome man who has nothing for her in North Dormer.
Her response to his proposal is: “’Marry you? Me?’ she burst out with a scornful laugh. ‘Was that what you came to ask me the other night? What’s come over you, I wonder? How long is it since you’ve looked at yourself in the glass?’ She straightened herself, insolently conscious of her youth and strength. ‘I suppose you think it would be cheaper to marry me than to keep a hired girl. Everybody knows you’re the closest man in Eagle County, but I guess you’re not going to get your mending done for you that way twice.’
She takes a job at the library in earnest to earn money with the intention of leaving the village. Her ambitious dream is the epitome of unsatisfied youth: to leave everyone she knows and to begin anew, hopeful that what she will have to be eternally better than her current life. She is haunted by her familial background, which she wishes she could escape from. One day, an architect from out of town, Lucius Harney, comes into the library and she is instantly drawn to him. He is intelligent, thoughtful, and calm and contrasts the dullness of North Dormer, and so unravels their relationship....
Charity is petulant, arrogant, and immature. She is ONLY 18 years old, and I thought her romantic behavior fit her age very well. Her tantrum-like personality in the beginning of the book is somewhat annoying, but I remember being her age and being in a relationship, immune and unaware of anything happening outside of it, and thinking everything is amazing and wonderful. That is what Wharton does very well - telling the story of a young girl's first relationship.
The ending of the book isn't that great and I was surprised that it ended quickly. I expected Charity to end up being more desperate, yet everything wrapped up in a few pages, like Wharton didn't want to tell the hard part. The book is called Summer, anyhow, and she would have had to written a book named Winter to describe the rest. The relationship between Charity and Royall was creepy. Imagine that happening next door to where you live! I am sure it does somewhere, but all the same, very unromantic.
Not a very exciting book, but I think Wharton writes in an elegant way that still remain simple.