Summer Light Summary (Roxana Robinson)

Roxana Robinson

Summer Light

(Critical Survey of Contemporary Fiction)

When readers meet her, Laura is an unemployed photographer unsure that she is a real “photographer.” She is separated from Nat, and she guesses that they will divorce but is not sure (according to Roxana Robinson, when a married man--Nat--engages in extramarital affairs, he is a philanderer; when his wife--Laura--does it she is merely confused). She is a concubine kept by Ward, who wants to marry her, but she is not sure she loves him. Laura’s predicament is exacerbated by her envy of sister Sarah’s long, “perfect” marriage.

So Laura is confused about her life, and needs help straightening the loose tangles in it. She gets plenty of assistance, in the process unfortunately emerging as more egocentric than her three-year-old son. Indeed, most of the characters here--including two of three children--spend an inordinate amount of time focusing upon Laura and her unremarkable problems. Author Robinson demands that the others be absorbed in her central character’s concerns; in fact, with two exceptions, the others exist here solely to enable the author to help Laura move away from the dead center of ennui. All the characters thus serve Robinson as ficelles who live on the pages only in relation to and conversations about Laura herself.

SUMMER’S LIGHT seems finally to be a short story padded with irrelevancies for novella length.