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?
||The Enchanted April
||Elizabeth von Arnim
||Buy "The Enchanted April"
Want to know what others thought of this book? Have a look at:
A Good Stopping Point