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Free Air takes one by automobile in search of America, heading toward a West brimming with possibilities for suddenly mobile Americans at the end of a world war. Clair Boltwood and her father drive their Gomez-Dep roadster from Minnesota to Seattle, braving all the perils of early motoring. But the greatest distance to be overcome is the social one between the upper-crust Claire and a traveling mechanic named Milt.
First published in 1919, with fame just around the corner for Sinclair Lewis, Free Air foreshadowed a genre that includes John Steinbeck’s Travels with Charley and Josh Greenfield and Paul Mazursky’s Harry and Tonto. The character of Claire, blazing her own trail across the West, looks back to the nineteenth-century pioneer woman and ahead to the independent-minded movie heroines played by Katherine Hepburn.
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