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The Marne, A Tale of War

Edith Wharton

Book Overview: 

American writer Edith Wharton is known for her novels of manners set in old New York; yet much of her adult life was spent in France. She lived in Paris throughout World War I and was heavily involved in refugee work. Her novella The Marne dramatizes the events of the war as seen through the eyes of 15-year-old Troy Belknap, an American boy who longs to join up and save his beloved France.

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Book Excerpt: 
. . .the classics, biology, and views on international politics, and yet able to do nothing but hang about marble hotels and pore over newspapers, while rank on rank, and regiment on regiment, the youth of France and England, swung through the dazed streets and packed the endless trains—the misery of this was so great to Troy that he became, as the days dragged on, more than ever what his mother called "callous," sullen, humiliated, resentful at being associated with all the rich Americans flying from France.

At last the turn of the Belknaps came too; but, as they were preparing to start, news came that the German army was at Lille, and civilian travel to England interrupted.

It was the fateful week, and every name in the bulletins—Amiens, Compigne, Rheims, Meaux, Senlis—evoked in Troy Belknap's tortured imagination visions of ancient beauty and stability. He had done that bit of France alone with M. Gantier the year before, while Mrs. Belkn. . . Read More

Community Reviews

Edith Wharton had been living in France for many years when WWI began. Like many in Europe, Wharton was frustrated and angry at America’s reluctance to enter the war and The Marne was written in response. The main character, Troy Belknap, is her voice against this hesitation, a call to save what she

Edith Wharton and the Great War

A very timely read on the 100th Anniversary of the Great War. What a sensational piece of fiction with an American protagonist, captures so well the hubris of America entering the war and teaching the old world with American institutions. I could not put this down...Hi

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