August is a Wicked Month Summary

  • Last updated on July 12, 2023
Title: "August is a Wicked Month" by Edna O'Brien

Publication Date: 1965

Genre: Fiction

Page Length: Approximately 200 pages



Author: Edna O'Brien
Title: August is a Wicked Month
Publication Date: 1965
Genre: Fiction
Page Length: Approximately 200 pages

"August is a Wicked Month" by Edna O'Brien, published in 1965, is a work of fiction set during the 1960s. The novel explores themes of love, desire, identity, and the overwhelming nature of human emotions. O'Brien's masterful storytelling and rich character development offer readers an intriguing glimpse into the complex layers of human relationships.

Plot Summary:

Chapter 1:
The story unfolds through the eyes of Ellen, a thirty-year-old writer and mother, as she embarks on a reckless journey of self-discovery. Feeling suffocated by her mundane life in England, Ellen decides to leave her husband and child for a solo trip to the picturesque countryside of the French Riviera in August. The chapter introduces Ellen's yearning for an escape from the responsibilities of her life and her pursuit of liberation and passion.

Chapter 2:
Once arrived in France, Ellen settles into a quaint cottage in a small village. As she explores her surroundings, she encounters a young Casanova named Marius, who is intrigued by Ellen's beauty and mysterious aura. A passionate affair ensues between the two, blurring the lines between infatuation, love, and lust. Their encounters are marked with intense sensuality, but underlying emotions of fear, guilt, and longing plague Ellen's mind.

Chapter 3:
The narrative takes a dark turn as Marius becomes more possessive, controlling, and unpredictable. Ellen's initial excitement and escape from her monotonous life start to erode, gradually revealing Marius's true nature. Faced with the harsh reality of their relationship, Ellen faces a tumultuous internal struggle as she battles between her desire for freedom and reclaiming control over her own life.

Chapter 4:
As Ellen contemplates the choices she has made, she meets Flora, an enigmatic woman who becomes a confidante to her innermost thoughts. Through their conversations, the reader gains insight into Ellen's inner turmoil and the complexities of the human experience. Flora, with her resilience and wisdom, serves as a guiding force for Ellen, helping her navigate the treacherous path of self-discovery and liberation.

Chapter 5:
Ellen's awakening reaches a critical climax as she confronts the destructive nature of her relationship with Marius. Her internal turmoil is mirrored by the summer storms that ravage the coastal village, heightening the tension and atmosphere of the novel. The storms serve as a metaphor for the emotional turbulence within Ellen, as she realizes that the pursuit of passion and desire can come at a great cost.

1. Self-discovery: "August is a Wicked Month" delves into the exploration of one's identity, desires, and the consequences that accompany personal liberation.
2. Love and Lust: The novel explores the blurred boundaries between love and lust, highlighting the complex nature of human relationships and the risks involved.
3. Freedom and Control: Ellen's journey represents the struggle between the attraction of freedom and the need for control, forcing readers to question the true nature of liberation.


"August is a Wicked Month" presents readers with a captivating portrayal of human desires, the intricacies of relationships, and the internal struggle for self-fulfillment. Through Edna O'Brien's evocative prose, the novel reveals the consequences and challenges that come with pursuing one's desires while also raising profound questions about the nature of love, passion, and the cost of personal liberation. Students studying this book gain a deeper understanding of themes surrounding human emotions, the importance of self-reflection, and the complexities of human relationships.

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