Author: Sylvia Townsend Warner
Publish Date: 1936
Genre: Historical Fiction
Page Length: Unknown
Summer Will Show, published in 1936 by Sylvia Townsend Warner, is a riveting historical fiction novel that takes place in mid-19th century Paris and Britain amidst the political unrest and social transformation of the time. Through a captivating narrative, Warner delves into themes of love, sexuality, revolution, and the struggle for women's emancipation, exploring the lives of its complex characters as they navigate a changing world.
Part I: Setting the Stage
Chapter 1: Sophia and the Situation
Set in 1848, Sophia Willoughby, an Englishwoman married to a French count named Fredéric, discovers her husband's infidelity after receiving love letters from his mistress. Determined to seek revenge, she embarks on a journey to Paris, leaving behind her two children.
Chapter 2: A Dark Horse
In Paris, Sophia seeks assistance from her radical and politically active brother, Timothee. As she arrives, she must confront the political upheaval engulfing the city, particularly the February Revolution. Sophia begins to immerse herself in the revolutionary spirit of the time, focusing on the struggle for gender equality.
Chapter 3: At the Sign of the "Golden Mouse"
Sophia visits her friend Babette, who introduces her to Minna Lemuel, a fiery and independent Irishwoman. Through their encounters, a deep friendship develops as Sophia is drawn to Minna's liberalism and dedication to women's rights.
Chapter 4: The Art of Love
Sophia discovers Fredéric's involvement in conservative politics and his anti-revolutionary sentiments. Feeling estranged from her husband and her own country, Sophia's bond with Minna intensifies as they explore their shared passions and desires, eventually leading to a romantic relationship.
Part II: Love and Revolution
Chapter 5: The Limbo of the Ephemeral
The social and political unrest engulfs Paris, leading to the June Days Uprising. Sophia becomes increasingly involved in revolutionary activities while maintaining her relationship with Minna. Meanwhile, she befriends various radical figures, including Monsieur Talabot, who is attracted to her, unaware of her true nature.
Chapter 6: Greenwood
Sophia and Minna travel to Britain, where they visit Sophia's ancestral home, Greenwood. Here, Sophia confronts her past, including her childhood loss and the strict expectations placed on her as a woman. The visit reinforces Sophia's determination to challenge societal norms and fight for freedom, both for herself and others.
Chapter 7: A Bird Set Free
While in England, Sophia becomes acquainted with her cousin Sir Humphrey Wynch, an aristocrat whom she initially despises. Despite their differences, they bond over their shared commitment to social reform and the struggle against gender inequality. Sir Humphrey eventually unveils his romantic feelings for Sophia, adding another layer of complexity to her relationships.
Part III: The Fall of Empires
Chapter 8: The Volcano's Voice
Sophia's involvement in the Italian Unification movement leads her to Naples, where she works alongside revolutionaries. She remains deeply invested in the fight for equality, supporting women's rights and challenging societal expectations. Amidst the chaos, her personal relationships face turmoil, and she experiences heartbreak and loss.
Chapter 9: The Black Stone
Sophia's political activities lead her to Russia, where she becomes embroiled in the Polish Uprising against Russian rule. Encountering violence and repression, her idealism is put to the test as she witnesses the harsh realities of revolution. She must also confront the remnants of her past and reconcile her emotions.
Chapter 10: The Stone Ground
Returning to Paris, Sophia reunites with Babette and Minna. The events of the 1848 revolution have left their mark, altering the political and social landscape. Amidst her newfound freedom and struggle for liberty, Sophia begins to question the nature of love itself, observing the complexities and compromises that come with relationships.
Summer Will Show, a compelling historical fiction novel by Sylvia Townsend Warner, transports readers to a tumultuous era of revolution, political unrest, and the fight for women's equality in mid-19th century Europe. Through the diverse and dynamic characters of Sophia Willoughby, Minna Lemuel, and Sir Humphrey Wynch, Warner explores themes of self-discovery, the pursuit of freedom, and the enduring struggle for love and liberation. This thought-provoking novel serves as a reminder of the challenges faced by women seeking agency and the power of perseverance in the face of adversity.