Summers at Castle Auburn is a quiet romantic fantasy that addresses social problems, but keeps it in the background. Our heroine is a young woman named Coriel who spends summers at Castle Auburn, the royal palace. She is the bastard child of the bastard son of noble and is--pretty much without her actual awareness for most of the novel--being groomed for an advantageous or at least politically useful marriage. She has a close relationship with her half-sister, has a crush of her sister’s fiancée, and is somewhat feckless and fancy free. Fortunately, she has a strong vocation for becoming a healer and has no intention of ruining her relationship with her sister by acting on her crush.