A trailblazer among American women at the turn of the century, Edith Wharton set out in the newly invented "motor-car" to explore the cities and countryside of France. As the Whartons embark on three separate journeys through the country in 1906 and 1907, accompanied first by Edith’s brother, Harry Jones, and then by Henry James, Edith is enamored by the freedom that this new form of transport has given her. With a keen eye for architecture and art, and the engrossing style that would later earn her a Pulitzer Prize in fiction, Wharton writes about places that she previously “yearned for from the windows of the train."
Now published for the first time as an illustrated eBook with photographs reproduced directly from the 1908 first edition, and newly introduced by acclaimed travel writer Lavinia Spalding, the Restless Books edition of A Motor-Flight Through France will inspire current and future generations of readers and adventurers.
"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
"Those who have been charmed with Mrs. Wharton's novels will not be disappointed by her venture into the unfamiliar role of a travel writer."
—The New York Times (1908)
"Wharton's reflections will still charm those who've been and those who dream. A nice addition to American literature as well as travel collections."
"A portrait of a long-forgotten France, a country that, when Wharton ranged over it in her 1904 Panhard-Levassor, was largely unchanged from medieval times."
—The New York Times Book Review
About the Authors
Edith Wharton (1862–1937) was the first woman to win the Pulitzer Prize for fiction. Having grown up in an upper-class, tightly controlled society known as “Old New York” at a time when women were discouraged from achieving anything beyond a proper marriage, Wharton broke through these strictures to become one of that society’s fiercest critics as well as one of America’s greatest writers. The author of more than 40 books in 40 years, Wharton’s oeuvre includes classic works of American literature such as The House of Mirth, The Custom of the Country, The Age of Innocence, and Ethan Frome, as well as authoritative works on architecture, gardens, interior design, and travel.
Lavinia Spalding is a writer, editor, teacher, and lapsed luddite. She’s the author of Writing Away: A Creative Guide to Awakening the Journal-Writing Traveler, named one of the best travel books of 2009 by the LA Times, and With a Measure of Grace: The Story and Recipes of a Small Town Restaurant. She is also the series editor of The Best Women’s Travel Writing. Lavinia's work has appeared in many print and online publications, including Sunset, Post Road, The San Francisco Chronicle, San Franciscomagazine, Tin House, Gadling, Overnight Buses, Every Day with Rachael Ray, and The Best Travel Writing Volume 9. Lavinia lives in San Francisco, where she’s a resident of the Writers’ Grotto and co-founder of the award-winning monthly travel reading series Weekday Wanderlust.