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.
About the Author
Edith Newbold Jones was born January 24, 1862, into such wealth and privilege that her family inspired the phrase "keeping up with the Joneses." The youngest of three children, Edith spent her early years touring Europe with her parents and, upon the family's return to the United States, enjoyed a privileged childhood in New York and Newport, Rhode Island. Edith's creativity and talent soon became obvious: By the age of eighteen she had written a novella, (as well as witty reviews of it) and published poetry in the Atlantic Monthly. After a failed engagement, Edith married a wealthy sportsman, Edward Wharton. Despite similar backgrounds and a shared taste for travel, the marriage was not a success. Many of Wharton's novels chronicle unhappy marriages, in which the demands of love and vocation often conflict with the expectations of society.
Upon the publication of The House of Mirth in 1905, Wharton became an instant celebrity, and the the book was an instant bestseller, with 80,000 copies ordered from Scribner's six weeks after its release. Ethan Frome appeared six years later, solidifying Wharton's reputation as an important novelist.
Often in the company of her close friend, Henry James, Wharton mingled with some of the most famous writers and artists of the day, including F. Scott Fitzgerald, Andre Gide, Sinclair Lewis, Jean Cocteau, and Jack London.
Wharton had a great fondness for dogs, and owned several throughout her life.
Schriber is Distinguished Professor Emeritus of English at Northern Illinois University.