Very pleased that my essay about the unexpected pleasure of traveling through France alone has won a Lowell Thomas Award for personal comment. I’m in great company: Here is a list of the winners, and here, again, is my story. And this is what the judges said:
Marcia DeSanctis’ strong, first-person narrative captures what one is supposed to feel for France: recognition of its unquestioned cultural and culinary preeminence. Yet, because she inverts the expectations of the accompanied traveler, she introduces us to a flawed, humane and solitary France. The accompanied traveler carries the awareness of another; the solo traveler converses only with memories. DeSanctis captures the joy of not sharing canelés (traditional pastries of Bordeaux) and the freedom to live extemporaneously. “I was travelling alone,” she writes with a spark of recognition “but not a single thing was missing.”
I’ve gotten to know Edith Wharton quite a bit over the course of writing 100 Places in France Every Woman Should Go. It was therefore a privilege to discuss her with two formidable women in their own right, Lavinia Spalding and Colleen Kinder at Wharton’s home in Lenox, Massachusetts. The occasion was the reissue of A Motor Flight Through France by the visionary publisher, Restless Books . Lavinia wrote a gorgeous introduction to this new edition, and invited me to join her on the panel.