Updated: Sep 15, 2020
Welcome to The Open Book Café: a weekly gathering of book lovers, from around the world. Share your thoughts on moving passages, and characters in play. What better way than to spend a small sweet slice of a somber Sunday?
Are you new to The Open Book Café? Here's a link to the Introduction. This is now a bi-monthly post, that may eventually be turned into into a podcast, along with previous posts.
Summer's End - The Open Book Café
Let's walk over to the stacks of classic literature and pick out a tale of heartbreak.
Summer by Edith Wharton
This nove was published in 1917 by Charles Scribner's Sons
Charity Royall, a small town librarian, meets a refined architect, Lucius Harney, when his work takes him from his home in New York to North Dormer, New England, to sketch colonial houses for a book. With Charity as his guide, they explore the countryside, and, each other.
Here are some of my favourite poetic passages from this book, as well as my added prose...
There had never been such a June in Eagle County. Usually it was a month of moods, with abrupt alternations of belated frost and mid-summer heat; this year, day followed day in a sequence of temperate beauty. Every morning a breeze blew steadily from the hills. Toward noon it built up great canopies of white cloud that threw a cool shadow over fields and woods; then before sunset the clouds dissolved again, and the western light rained its unobstructed brightness on the valley.
On such an afternoon Charity Royall lay on a ridge above a sunlit hollow, her face pressed to the earth and the warm currents of the grass running through her. Directly in her line of vision a blackberry branch laid its frail white flowers and blue-green leaves against the sky. Just beyond, a tuft of sweet-fern uncurled between the beaded shoots of the grass, and a small yellow butterfly vibrated over them like a fleck of sunshine. This was all she saw; but she felt, above her and about her, the strong growth of the beeches clothing the ridge, the rounding of pale green cones on countless spruce-branches, the push of myriads of sweet-fern fronds in the cracks of the stony slope below the wood, and the crowding shoots of meadowsweet and yellow flags in the pasture beyond. All this bubbling of sap and slipping of sheaths and bursting of calyxes was carried to her on mingled currents of fragrance. Every leaf and bud and blade seemed to contribute its exhalation to the pervading sweetness in which the pungency of pine-sap prevailed over the spice of thyme and the subtle perfume of fern, and all were merged in a moist earth-smell that was like the breath of some huge sun-warmed animal.
'The air was cool and clear, with the autumnal sparkle that a north wind brings to the hills in early summer, and the night had been so still that the dew hung on everything, not as a lingering moisture, but in separate beads that glittered like diamonds on the ferns and grasses.'
'They rounded a point at the farther end of the Lake, and entering an inlet pushed their bow against a protruding tree-trunk. A green veil of willows overhung them. Beyond the trees, wheat-fields sparkled in the sun; and all along the horizon the clear hills throbbed with light.'
'...and striking out of them continuous jets of jewelled light, the velvet darkness settled down again,...'
'She was always glad when she got to the little house before Harney. She liked to have time to take in every detail of its secret sweetness -- the shadows of the apple-trees swaying on the grass, the old walnuts rounding their domes below the road, the meadows sloping westward in the afternoon light -- before his first kiss blotted it all out. Everything unrelated to the hours spent in that tranquil place was as faint as the remembrance of a dream. The only reality was the wondrous unfolding of her new self, the reaching out to the light of all her contracted tendrils. She had lived all her life among people whose sensibilities seemed to have withered for lack of use; and more wonderful, at first, than Harney's endearments were the words that were a part if them. She had always thought of love as something confused and furtive, and he made it as bright and open as the summer air.'
Suddenly living and dreaming as fleeting feathers in the wind, living two lives, tasting one hat she desired, the other: made her feel helplessly trapped; unworthy of that overwhelming amount of happiness. Another woman was by his side. Sometimes it's good to have a backup plan. Scratch that. It is always good to have a backup plan.
The tapestry of life. Interwoven, all characters arrive and depart the network.
Lessons are learned or ignored and repeated. Darkness and light -
all will be revealed.
'Suddenly it became clear that flight, and instant flight, was the only thing conceivable. The longing to escape, to get away from familiar faces, from places where she was known, had always been strong in her in moments of distress. She had a childish belief in the miraculous power of strange scenes and new faces to transform her life and wipe out bitter memories.'
And for many, that can be true. Hasty decisions in fight or flight mode can be draining. But climbing to higher places can help raise frequencies all around us.
For Charity, a spark of hope arrives in the form of new life.
Thank you for reading.
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