What will readers be surprised and delighted by in Edith Wharton’s A Motor-Flight Through France?
I think what’s most surprising is how encyclopedic Wharton’s knowledge was about French history and architecture. It would be tricky to compare A Motor-Flight Through France to any of today’s travel memoirs—it isn’t filled with the usual odes to meals or poignant interactions with locals; she doesn’t infuse the narrative with a lot of personal anecdotes. It’s really a long love letter to the country’s cathedrals and culture, small towns and byways. What’s most delightful are the gorgeous, evocative descriptions of place—both close-up and panoramic—and the rare view of this part of the world during a bygone era when cars were brand-new and travel wasn’t something anyone took for granted.
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Give me books, French wine, fruit, fine weather, and a little music played out of doors by somebody I do not know.” –John Keats