In Summer, a young woman from a very small New England town wishes she could leave her narrow existence for something more meaningful. She was taken in by a lawyer and his wife when she was a child, but never actually adopted by them. Now she works as the librarian at the library no one in town is interested in, caring for books she doesn't even want to read herself. Then a young man arrives in town, an architect who wants to spend the summer drawing old and interesting houses in the area. His aunt lives there, so he's staying with her.
Obviously, Charity Royall and Lucius Harney get together. And fall a bit in love. And things go wrong. And keep going wrong. And go more wrong. And then go wronger still. And by the end of the book (this is TOTAL SPOILAGE), Charity is pregnant with Lucius Harney's baby, he's married to someone else, and she has basically been forced into marrying the weird and often icky old lawyer who raised her.
WHAT THE HECKITY HECK HECK HECK?
And worse that simply being a miserable book about miserable things happening to make miserable people even more miserable is the fact that this book actually made me anxious and depressed while I was reading it! This is not why I read books. I do not read them so that I can feel worse about the world around me, or to have myself made unhappy.
You know that saying, "If mama ain't happy, ain't nobody happy?" I take that seriously. I work hard at remaining contented, happy, and upbeat because my mood and behavior directly and deeply affects three young people and one medium-aged man. They do not need me to walk around sinking under a cloud of gloom caused by fictional characters being treated badly by their author. So, no more Wharton for me.
However, I do want to mention that I really liked the copy that I read -- it's a beautifully illustrated edition from Sweet Sequels. She has lots of books available, including several that are out of print elsewhere. I love the feel of her covers -- very smooth and tactile-ly pleasing.
If This was a Movie, I Would Rate It: PG-16 for oblique discussions of abortion and more direct discussions of unwed pregnancy. Charity does not have an abortion, but she knows a girl who did, and visits a doctor who performs them.
This has been my 24th book read and reviewed for my third Classics Club list and my 36th read from my TBR shelves for #TheUnreadShelfProject2021