Edith Wharton

From The New Republic:

Wharton Over her lifetime of seventy-five years, Edith Wharton, born Edith Newbold Jones in 1862 to a moderately wealthy New York family, spent less and less time in her native city. When she was there, she generally wished to be somewhere else. According to James, she was a “poor dear goaded wanderer” — beginning with childhood travels in tow to her parents, later hopping from friend to friend at estates with portentous names like Qu’Acre and Hill Hall, or for colloquies with James at Lamb House, or with Bernard Berenson at I Tatti — sometimes accompanied by her occasionally “violent & scenic” (James’s words) husband Teddy, more often without him as he went off on his own to such exotic places as India, where the “obsessive Indian consumption of whiskey and soda” earned his disapproval — mainly, one suspects, because of the diluting effect of the soda.

Like James, Wharton wrote especially well about Americans in Europe. She knew the subject from within. She kept homes in London and, most happily, in Paris, at No. 53, later No. 58, Rue de Varenne, until the end of World War I, when she moved to the quieter district of Saint-Brice-sous-Fort, where she lived until her death in 1937. Paris, as she says of a character in a late novel, was her “great traceried window opening on the universe.”

More here.