Summer by Edith Wharton was my first pick for the Read-a-thon. It took me about a half a day to read it.
As the title suggests, the book is set in the summer of the 17th year in the life of Charity Royall. When she was just a toddler the lawyer Royall, went up into the Mountain and brought her down to raise her as his ward in the village. Her parentage has always been a mystery to her and she hardly cared until the appearance of Lucius Harney. Harney is a young architect come to spend the summer with his aunt drawing the local houses. Charity falls for the young man and he with her. But like most summer romances, it's sure to end in heartbreak.
Wharton did an excellent job conveying angsty teenage romance, especially the turbulent emotions of the girl, Charity. Young love hasn't changed all that much in 100 years. Hopefully, the role of young women has by now. Charity does have a lot of opportunities for freedom. She works at the library to earn money for little day excursions to the larger town nearby. I could feel her claustrophobia in the tiny village where everyone knows everyone else's business. She's not at all like the other girls who chase the local village boys. She wants something different. I wonder if she was really in love with Harney or did he just represent every thing she wanted for herself. He was free to do and go as he liked, where she was trapped in the little village. She only wishes to escape to the Mountain and her past after she meets Harney. It's an awakening of some kind.
At times, Charity was hard to like. Although I felt sorry for her, she was quite spoiled and arrogant. Mr Royall is by no means a saint but the way she spoke to a man who took care of her when he didn't have to was terrible. She gloats to herself about the power she has over him. Still, there were parts of her personality I'm ashamed to admit I related to as a teen.
Summer is a very interesting read and an interesting look at young women at the beginning of the last century.