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A Motor-Flight Through France
“Edith Wharton’s graceful sentences create dramatic, populous tableaux and peel back layer after layer of artifice and pretense, of what we say and how we wish to appear, revealing the hidden kernel of what human beings are like, alone and together.”—Francine Prose, New York Review of Books
Shedding the constraints that existed for women in turn-of-the-century America, Edith Wharton set out in the newly invented “motor-car” to explore the cities and countryside of France. Originally published in 1908, A Motor-Flight Through France is considered by many to be the very best of Wharton’s outstanding travel writings.
While Wharton’s novels are darkly funny and deliciously catty, and her short stories are populated by adulterers, murderers, and artists, A Motor-Flight Through France captures all of the riches and charm of France during the Belle Époque in gorgeous, romantic prose. Like many Americans, Wharton was utterly beguiled by France at the dawn of the twentieth century, and in this volume her brilliant sketches of “l’Hexagone” provide an enchanting and indelible portrait of the land during this era. But Wharton’s travelogue is as much about the thrill of travel as it is about place. With the automobile in its infancy, Wharton was experiencing the countryside as few people ever had, liberated from the ugliness of train yards and the constraints of passage by rail. “The motor-car has restored the romance of travel,” she wrote, and readers of this wonderful book will be grateful to experience it through her eyes.
Edith Wharton (1862–1937) was the first woman to win the Pulitzer Prize for fiction. She is the author of such classics in American literature as The House of Mirth, The Custom of the Country, The Age of Innocence, and Ethan Frome.
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