A tale of forbidden sexual passion and thwarted dreams played out against the lush, summer backdrop of the Massachusetts Berkshires Edith Wharton called Summer her 'hot Ethan'. In their rural settings and their poor, uneducated protagonists, Summer (1916) and Ethan Frome represent a sharp departure from Wharton's familiar depictions of the urban upper class. Charity Royall lives unhappily with her hard-drinking adoptive father in an isolated village, until a visiting architect awakens her sexual passion and the hope for escape. Exploring Charity's relation to her father and her lover, Wharton delves into dark cultural territory: repressed sexuality, small-town prejudice, and, in subtle hints, incest.
Edith Wharton was born Edith Newbold Jones on January 24, 1862, during the American Civil War. Wharton published her first short story in 1891; her first story collection, The Greater Inclination, in 1899; a novella called The Touchstone in 1900; and her first novel, a historical romance called The Valley of Decision, in 1902. The book that made Wharton famous was The House of Mirth, published in 1905. She died in 1937.