Wharton's novel Summer (1917) is one of only two she sets in New England, this one following Charity Royall's journey of sexual awakening.
Charity comes from poverty and is taken in by the wealthy and successful Lawyer Royall when she is five years old. Lawyer develops a romantic interest in Charity after his wife dies, but things go awry. First when Lawyer loses drunken control and enters her bedroom when she is seventeen and then again in response to the apparent love between her and the already betrothed young architect, Lucius Harney. A predictable result of her actions forces her to make some difficult choices.
Painting by John Singer Sargent, Violet's Morning Walk, 1888
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