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Lost Summer, by Christopher Davis

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First published by Harcourt, Brace, 1958
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"Best book by a new writer, 1958: Christopher Davis's Lost Summer."

—John Wain, the Observer, London

Toni Newman, the eighteen-year-old daughter of a prosperous Main Line Philadelphia family is the victim of rape. The crime occurs at a period in mid-20th century America when much of society still thinks of rape as necessarily victim-participatory. Toni is put on trial as surely as if she herself had committed the crime. She confronts first loving, if suspicious, sympathy; and then, by stages, rejection by community, society, and family. At length, transformed—matured beyond her years by the ordeal of guilt by association—she begins a search for love in a society that will not reject her.

Selected comments and Review quotes:

"Lost Summer is never less than gripping. I read it at a sitting. Mr Davis is a real discovery."

—New Statesman

"By keeping his voice down and his judgments out of this first novel, Author Davis, 29, enlists full sympathy for his victim. Though the jacket claims that his book is a blast at 'contemporary American society,' it is really a timeless story about two kinds of brutality: that of the criminal who hurts by not caring for the feelings of his victim and that of the victim's loved ones who hurt even more by not caring enough."

—Time Magazine

"[A] remarkably fine first novel...acutely perceptive...finely textured."

—New York Times Book Review

"A realistic study [that] turns a sensational theme into a skillful pyschological novel."


"Blunt, ironic and consistently compelling."


Lost Summer was adapted for the stage by Daniel Taradash and produced at the Cort Theater in New York City under the title There Was a Little Girl. Jane Fonda, in her first stage role, played the principal part.

Click here to read an excerpt from the 2007 book Working Words, Creative Reading, Writing, and Teaching by Christopher Davis.