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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

Perfectly readable

Very recommendable novella

100 years after the end of World War I, we of this late entrant to the conflict know very little about it. This short story's a good start for becoming better acquainted…

The Marne by Edith Wharton is named after the World War One battles along the Marne River in France. While the first battle in 1914 was considered a victory for the Allied Forces it at the same time led to a stalemate and four year of trench warfare on the Western Front.

The central character of...more

4.5 stars (liked a lot)

This is probably my favorite Edith Wharton book so far. In this novella, we are introduced to the story of 15-year-old Troy Belknap who is from a wealthy family in New York but yearns to serve in the area of France along the Marne River where critical World War I battles to...more

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.....more

This isn't a collection of stories, but the novella. All in all, disappointing compared to everything else I've read by EW. It's dedicated to a soldier who died in WWI and I wonder if she wrote this as a tribute to a friend's son, or a relative as some sort of obligation--and her heart wasn't in...more

Slim little volume on the French battle in WWI. Not her best, but not bad.

This short novel was obviously meant as patriotic propaganda, to inspire American involvement in France's affairs (even though it came out near the end of World War I). And that's the problem: all Wharton's usual care with representing the subtleties of social relations, her fine eye for characte...more

Focusing on the life of Troy Belknap and presenting a general view of American life and opinion during the first world war...more

A lightly regarded and little read novella by Wharton that seemed hurried and incomplete. Published in 1918, the year America entered the war, it was an attempt to highlight what Wharton viewed as American indifference, at least up until that point. Also to counter the perception that France nee...more

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