"…[a] delicious novel of romance in late 19th—century Italy."
— Michael Dirda, The Washington Post
"Again and again in Indian Summer, the felicity of the writing makes us pause in admiration….A midlife crisis has rarely been sketched in fiction with better humor, with gentler comedy and more gracious acceptance of life’s irrevocability."
— John Updike
"A lesser—known entry in the Americans—in—Europe genre, the school of novels ruled by Edith Wharton and Henry James, William Dean Howells’ comedy of manners, Indian Summer, is as sublime as they come…Indian Summer is not, however, a tragic novel. Ultimately, it’s one of those rare works…about the deep, unexpected satisfactions to be found in compromise…Indian Summer is what we mean when we invoke irony that does not mean hollow attitude, when we say something is civilized without meaning rarefied, when subtlety does not preclude accessibility, when optimism is earned. It’s exquisite."
About the Author
William Dean Howells (1837–1920), the author of thirty-six novels, twelve books of travel, and many short stories, articles, essays, and poems, grew up in Martin’s Ferry, Ohio, the son of a printer with strong antislavery and egalitarian beliefs. Largely self-taught, Howells began his writing career as a reporter and was soon publishing poetry, fiction, and criticism in national magazines. He wrote a campaign biography for Abraham Lincoln and was rewarded with an appointment as the US consul in Venice. In Europe Howells met Eleanor Mead, whom he married in 1862, and for the rest of his life he would rely on what he called her “unerring artistic taste.” In 1866, Howells became the assistant editor of the Atlantic Monthly, which led to close friendships with other American writers, among them Henry James, Samuel Clemens, Oliver Wendell Holmes, Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, and James Russell Lowell. He championed the work of Emily Dickinson, Stephen Crane, and Paul Laurence Dunbar, and was one of the only prominent Americans to protest execution of four Anarchists after the 1886 Haymarket Bombings. In 1881, Howells resigned his editorship to concentrate on writing fiction—among his best-known novels are The Rise of Silas Lapham (1885), Indian Summer (1886), and A Hazard of New Fortunes (1890)—and in 1908 he was elected the first president of the American Academy of Arts and Letters.
Wendy Lesser is the founding editor of The Threepenny Review and the author of six books of nonfiction. Her reviews and essays have appeared in periodicals around the country, and she has been a fellow of the Guggenheim Foundation, the National Arts Jouranlism Program, and the American Academy in Berlin. She lives in Berkeley, California.