Edith Wharton's often disparaging remarks about her New England “predecessors”—Sarah Orne Jewett, Mary E. Wilkins Freeman, and others—remain well known, and many critics have studied her relationship to these writers and the regional tradition their work exemplifies. This analysis, however, reads Wharton's novel Summer in relationship not only to Jewett's “A White Heron,” but also alongside the story “A Star in the Valley” by another writer in the regional tradition, Mary Noailles Murfree of Tennessee. Comparing these three stories of encounter between an urban, male visitor and a local rural girl suggests the subversive nature of both Jewett's and Wharton's works—something Wharton may not have recognized in Jewett's piece. Moreover, the comparison among the three authors demonstrates that Wharton worked within and against a network of women writers closely associated with the Atlantic Monthly, a network that included writers from the Appalachian South and other locales as well as New England. The analysis reads her final New England novel, Summer, through the lens of this tradition.

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