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Summer

By: Edith Wharton
Narrated by: Grace Conlin
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Publisher's Summary

Wharton's most erotic and lyrical novel, Summer explores a daring theme for 1917, a woman's awakening to her sexuality. Eighteen-year-old Charity Royall lives in the small town of North Dormer, ignorant of desire until the arrival of architect Lucius Harney. Like the succulent summer landscape in the Berkshires around them, Charity's romance is lush and picturesque, but its consequences are harsh and real.

Praised for its realism and candor by such writers as Joseph Conrad and Henry James and compared to Flaubert's Madame Bovary, Summer was one of Wharton's personal favorites of all her novels and remains as fresh and relevant today as when it was first written.

(P)1994 Blackstone Audiobooks

Critic Reviews

"Reader Grace Conlin distinguishes both men's and women's voices easily, using hushed, intimate tones to convey the sweetness of the romance. Yet an ephemeral quality in her delivery casts a shadow of reality on the story and reminds the listener that seasons change." (AudioFile)

What listeners say about Summer

Average Customer Ratings
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  • 4 out of 5 stars
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  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars

Excellent first audible purchase!

Grace Conlin is a great reader. At first I thought she was going to be too fast, but her pacing is excellent. She sweeps you right into the story. And this is a concise Wharton tale. Similar tragic tones to her other books. However, some lovely descriptions of New England countryside in the summer. A sad contrast to her heroine. I'm not done yet, about half way, but I find myself looking for excuses to pop in the headphones and listen.

13 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars

basic, satisfying Wharton

The central character, Charity Royall, I found unsympathetic, but her troubles are vivid as she faces the traditional moral struggle of virtue vs restraint with convincing small-minded impulsiveness.

Wharton is wise and worldly. Her understanding of the primacy of trivial things in relationships is profound. Charity blunders stupidly through life in a very human way. This is not a great novel like The House of Mirth, but Wharton weaves melodrama out of the stuff of an ordinary life.

The reader is very good, except for the occasional odd pronunciation.

8 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars

The negative reviews frightened me

but I found the story enchanting, enthralling and somewhat ominously predictable. My first Edith Wharton but I believe I'll try another.

6 people found this helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

My favorite Wharton book so far

This is the third book of hers I've read. It's the least depressing, which is a good thing in my opinion. E. Wharton wrote beautiful prose and also knew how to tell a fast-paced story. My book club had a very lively discussion about class, gender, marriage, nature, and other interesting issues raised by this book.

5 people found this helpful

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    3 out of 5 stars
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It's Okay

Would you recommend this book to a friend? Why or why not?

I'm trying to get through all of Wharton's novels- I'd recommend this to a Wharton fan but not necessarily someone looking for that all encompassing "good read". It was scandalous at the time but it sort of has a predictable ending and I wasn't particularly satisfied with the heroine.

If you’ve listened to books by Edith Wharton before, how does this one compare?

There wasn't anything particularly wrong with the reader- I just didn't like her style. The reading felt very clipped and almost rushed.

Would you be willing to try another one of Grace Conlin’s performances?

Probably not.

3 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars

Required "Summer" reading

Grace Conlin's initial rapid delivery of Edith Wharton's sensitive penetration of the Summer of adolescent dreams collapsing into the Fall of the realities of adult choices is worth the investment of the listener's patience. Once Conlin settles into her natural rhythm, she crafts a gem that should become the centerpiece of the setting of required summer reading for every high school girl--and her mother.

3 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars

More complex than Ethan Frome

This novella may be compared to Ethan Frome in that it is about country people rather than about the wealthy about whom Edith Wharton more commonly wrote. And yet this novel is more complex and emotionally compelling than the more famous work. The tragedy of this young woman's life and her seemingly unavoidable doom is spellbinding.

3 people found this helpful

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    4 out of 5 stars

Good story - wish there was more!

Wish there was a sequel to the novel. I would have liked to have known what happened to Charity as the rest of the year progressed.

2 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars

Sluggish and Disappointing

It's very hard to like Wharton, and having never studied her within the academic world, I cannot understand her popularity and enduring publication. The story descriptions seem like ripe plums, but instead we bite into hard, green, sour flesh with no juice.

Again we have a heroine who seems to drift, along with the story as a whole. Will we ever just get somewhere? If we must be languid, couldn't we at least enjoy the characters?

I can only recommend this one if you are a Wharton fan or you're seeking a quiet ride in dull country.

2 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

Beguiling and Devastating

The Gilded Age indeed—gilded women in gilded cages. There is always a long suffering man who swoops down to rescue the wayward maiden. She is wayward in mind if not in body; intellectually if not in her determination to live as her authentic self. The wayward man slips embarrassedly but relievedly away without sanction.

The lover is this Wharton gem is beguiling. I was half seduced by him myself. Wharton’s descriptions of her wayward protagonist’s experiences are veiled but unmistakably erotic: The protagonist presses her body into the warm grass as she lolls on round hills, gazing into a shimmering blue sky. As she flowers in her lovers arms, Wharton lavishly describes the blooms of summer. There are many glimmering moon rises and piercing dawns; the
bulk of a mountain looming over the town are rolled out again and again lest the reader miss the point
But I don’t mind it because Wharton’s prose is a delight.

The story is devastating. Nothing has changed since this book was published in 1916. Women still have price tags dangling from them —the appraisals of men. The terms of value have changed; and the gilded cages much more disguised. But they serve the same devastating purpose.

1 person found this helpful

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  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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  • Bridget
  • 01-08-08

Summer (unabridged), Edith Wharton

This was my first audiobook download and I loved it so much that I stayed awake until 2.00 a.m. to hear it out. The reader perfectly captured the elegant, ironic tone of the writing without sentimentality. The story itself never falters, moving rapidly from one development to another while perfectly encapsulating both character and setting. It is extraordinary to think that this story of a small town girl's sexual awakening, understanding and betrayal was written in 1916.

4 people found this helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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  • "oboejoebo"
  • 08-07-19

Heartbreaking and beautiful

Charity is a wonderful protagonist, and the ending is so heartbreaking.

Lovely narrator, who brought the story to life.

1 person found this helpful

  • Overall
    2 out of 5 stars
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  • Linton Edwards
  • 07-14-22

pretty girl. young man. Guess who comes off worse

very rapid reading makes it hard to listen
story is so dispiriting I couldnt finish it. You know. Like Thomas Hardy books. You know the girl is going to be in lots of trouble. We dont get to know her quite well enough; she is interesting but a bit distant. I dont know. A classic of its time but thank god the world is different. I think.

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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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  • tyto14
  • 06-24-22

excellent 5*

Great story, plot and characterisations
amazing lucid vivid descriptions
beautifully read and well narrated
recommended 5*

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars
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  • Anonymous User
  • 06-18-22

Incorrect Speed?

I believe this novel is recorded/reproduced at the incorrect speed. As one or two others have mentioned, if you can slow the narration down to 0.9, it improves the listening experience drastically.

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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  • Anna
  • 06-09-22

Superb

This totally took me by surprise.
An excellent reading of a great story.
Would recommend.

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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    2 out of 5 stars
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  • Pamela
  • 05-25-22

Not Wharton's Best.

There are some excellent descriptions here and there. And Wharton writes with a fluid style that can carry you along. The narration for me is good, although I have read others had a problem with it. No, the weakness is in the plot and for me, this is Wharton's weaker area. There are too many contradictions and inconsistencies in the character's behavior.

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    5 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars
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  • Miss M.
  • 04-13-22

Surprising

I was surprised by how gripping this 1916 novel was. It was easy to become immersed in Charity Royal's world & her burgeoning romance with Lucius Harney. However there are darker forces at play which threaten to sweep her along towards tragedy. I had not previously rated Edith Wharton but she is a masterful storyteller. Grace Conlin's voice was wonderfully evocative to listen to, first class narration.

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars
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  • J. Speakman
  • 03-31-22

An enjoyable listen

Notwithstanding that it was a predictable story in some ways and the narrator spoke a little too fast, the author's descriptions and characters put this book above the norm. An enjoyable read.

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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  • Amazon Customer
  • 03-17-22

Slow the playback speed down a notch

If your app allows slowing the playback down one notch x0.9 make this book a beautiful listen. Give it a go it’s worth it