Summer’ is a book which can be symbolised by the atmosphere which surrounds the life of heroine Charity; the novel begins with he gentle undulations of a summer day, the refraction of sunlight on a gentle June afternoon hide the storm-clouds on the way with coming of Harney, whose passionate love raises Charity from her slumber, from her boredom, saves her from the drudgery of life in a quiet village, a life of calmness and quiescence but lack of vitality and passion. The third part in this love triangle is Charity’s lachrymose and lugubrious benefactor Mr Royall, whose doleful nature hides a loneliness and love for Charity which he is finding it increasingly difficult to conceal.
On the surface ‘Summer’ recycles some of the most well-used tropes of romantic fiction; the superficially charming rake, the naive heroine, the moody suitor whose exterior hides a selfless souls, yet ‘Summer’ should not be judged for its exterior shell, but instead for the inner radiance of the New England she creates. The ethereal beauty of the world which surrounds summer, from the torrents which are released by her pent-up passion, to the tenuous beauty of a spring morning, the superficial artificiality of the characters is subsumed within the richness of the world Wharton creates;
“The lake was so smooth that the reflection of the trees on its edge seemed enamelled on a solid surface; but gradually, as the sun declined, the water grew transparent, and Charity, leaning over, plunged her fascinated gaze into depths so clear that she saw the inverted tree-tops interwoven with the green growths of the bottom.”