Charity Royall. I loved her, hated her, sympathized with her, and cried for her.
She's a young woman at age 19, bored with her life in a small New England town. Adopted by Lawyer Royall at a young age, she was saved from a life of poverty on the "mountain". One would think she would have been grateful, but not Charity. She hates Mr. Royall for what she sees as her imprisonment in small town drudgery, and also for his proposal of marriage.
Enter Lucius Harney, sophisticated man about town; a young architect visiting nearby. Suddenly, Charity's hopes of escaping North Dormer and her new found sexuality awaken.
Charity learns some ugly life lessons, some sooner rather than later. This novel must have been shocking in 1917 when it was released. A young woman with sexual needs and desires was not something openly discussed in those days, certainly not in small New England towns.
I have a fondness for Edith Wharton's work. She lived not too far from me, in a home she designed and had built herself. To me, she has always represented a fighter against the rules of society and their affect on women of the day. Unfortunately, the women in her stories often lose their fights. In this case, I choose to view the ending as a victory for Charity. She certainly made out better than poor Lily Bart.
Recommended for fans of classics and readers that enjoy social commentary disguised as an entertaining tale.