The Enchanted April by Elizabeth von Arnim

enchanted april Blurb:

A discreet advertisement in ‘The Times’, addressed to ‘Those who Apppreciate Wisteria and Sunshine…’ is the impetus for a revelatory month for four very different women. High above the bay on the Italian Riviera stands San Salvatore, a mediaeval castle. Beckoned to this haven are Mrs. Wilkins, Mrs Arbuthnot, Mrs Fisher and Lady Caroline Dester, each quietly craving a respite. Lulled by the Mediterranean spirit, they gradually shed their skins and discover a harmony each of them has longed for but never known.

 My thoughts:  I read “The Enchanted April” as one of the books of the “Book Read ‘Round the World” event hosted by Carin B. If you would like to know more about the event and the experience hop on over to Carin’s blog and read all about it.

I suggested it to Carin because it perfectly fit the travel theme and sounded just like the right book for a summer read.

“The Enchanted April” is a wonderful, uplifting book. People get transformed in it in such a light hearted manner that can leave nobody untouched.

This book will be reviewed a few more times by my fellow participants and I’m sure everybody will talk about it from a different angle. As a starting point I just want to point out a few things.

I love the way Mrs. Wilkins and Mrs. Arbuthnot arrive at San Salvatore. It is dark, it is raining, yet they can smell that there must be hundreds of flowers around. However, not all is well, since they both are convinced they will die any minute from the hands of the men they are following to the suppose castle. Mrs. Wilkins is worried and not sure whether to pay the driver or not.

Ought they to pay him? Not, they thought, if they were going to be robbed and perhaps murdered. Surely on such an occasion one did not pay.

The next morning another surprise awaits them. Instead of preparing everything for the arrival of their two fellow guests they find them already present and having taken over the organization of the stay. Mrs. Fisher and Lady Caroline have taken the nicest rooms, have arranged meal times with the cook and refuse to act like the guests they were supposed to be. After all, Mrs. Wilkins and Mrs. Arbuthnot were the ones who found the ad and agreed to take the other two on board and not vice versa.

“What time would you like to have lunch?”Mrs. Arbuthnot asked her, trying to keep her head as at least a non-guest, if not precisely a hostess, above water.

Lunch,” said Mrs. Fisher, “is at half past twelve.”

The same afternoon Mrs. Wilkins, Lotty, has already come to a most important conclusion.

It’s only love that’s any good. At home I wouldn’t love Mellersh [her husband] unless he loved me back, exactly as much, absolute fairness. Did you ever. And as he didn’t, neither did I, and the aridity of that house! The aridity…”

Rose said nothing. She was bewildered by Lotty.

The days go by and nothing happens, at least not on the outside. The women don’t go on trips, they don’t visit sights, nothing. All the adventures are happening inside of everybody. Gradually the women change and a lot of the behaviour that they slid into during their lives just slips away to leave them unburdened, free and happy. Even the stern Mrs. Fisher eventually finds herself again. This is all done in such a clever way that the reader never realizes a change takes place, it happens by and by. At the end of the book everybody leaves San Salvatore happy, with a definite positive outlook on their future and with a few friends they would never have expected to find.

Read this story if you are down and you will feel happy when you finish it. Read it when you’re happy and you will be happier still.

I am going to send this book together with some goodies to Canada to Sandie Lee now. I hope she will enjoy it as much as I did.

My questions to Sandie Lee and following participants:

1. Mrs. Arbuthnot is thinking the following early on in the book. Do you agree with her statement?

To be missed, to be needed, from whatever motive, was, she thought, better than the complete loneliness of not being missed or needed at all.

2. Do you think that a mere change of location, beautiful as it may be, can cause such a profound change in people that they come back home transformed in a way as in the book?

 

Title The Enchanted April
Author Elizabeth von Arnim
Publisher Virago Press
ISBN 9780860685173
Buy link Buy "The Enchanted April"

 

Want to know what others thought of this book? Have a look at:

A Good Stopping Point 

11 Comments Write a comment

  1. It’s under the Events Tab on my header. I’ll post it for you!

    Were there any typos in the book? I read a few negative comments on Amazon about it so I tried to pick a copy that seemed to have no negative reviews about the editing.

    I like your review! It sounds like a really nice summer read. Are you going to watch the film now?

    Reply

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  3. Judith, yes, there is a film, but I have never seen it. The book was published in 1922, btw.

    Carin, no, I didn’t notice any typos at all. Everything seemed fine to me. Not sure whether I want to watch the film now. I like the film cover with the actress who plays Lady Caroline, who I think looks beautiful, but I don’t know whether I want to spoil the pictures in my head by watching the film.

    Reply

  4. Hello Rikki;

    I received the book yesterday and all the wonderful presents you sent along with it. Thank you so much!

    I started it last night and I’m already enthralled in the writing. More to come after I finish 🙂

    Sandie lee

    Reply

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  6. Sandie Lee, I’m glad everything arrived safely and you liked the goodies. I can’t wait to read your review of the book and your guest post on Carin’s blog.

    Reply

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  8. Hello Everyone;

    I just finished, The Enchanted April and loved it!

    To answer your questions, Rikki, I agree with Mrs. Arbuthnot, somewhat. Not sure I’d want to be missed just for the work I do, or meals I provide…

    Also, I do believe a magical place with all the beauty of nature and solitude the castle provided, could indeed change ones look out of his/her life – it would give you time to reflect and ponder.

    Now on to the personal questions you asked Rikki…

    Q – “Over here we always think that Canada is mostly nature, lots of forest, few people (at least compared to Germany). Is that so where you live?”

    A – Canada does offer a lot of untamed wilderness, however, we do have our large cities. My city is relatively small with only 75,000 people. We live surrounded by the Canadian Shield – Large rocks and forest – so we do indeed have lots of trees and small lakes/rivers. And of course the Saint Mary’s River where the large freighter ships pass along.

    Q – How is it to live in a bilingual Country? Does everyone have to speak both languages? Can you get by with only one of them? Do both groups of people (the ones who speak English or French originally) get along just fine or is there any tension?

    A – Good questions! For the most part, there’s really no noticeable difference. I don’t speak French, as most people don’t in my city and it’s fine. However, our government did establish a law that all government office employees must be bilingual and also all the road signs.

    Not really alot of tension between cultures in my city. We are kind of a melting pot of cultures here – French, Italian, Native Canadians, Asian etc. So we all mostly communicate in English and get along as a society.

    Reply

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