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The Caravaners (Virago modern classic) (original 1909; edition 1998)

by Elizabeth Von Arnim

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129None93,711 (3.15)39
Member:thecaptivereader
Title:The Caravaners (Virago modern classic)
Authors:Elizabeth Von Arnim
Info:Virago Press Ltd (1998), Edition: New edition, Paperback, 352 pages
Collections:Your library
Rating:***
Tags:Publisher: Virago, Author: English, Fiction, Location: England, Read in 2012

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The Caravaners by Elizabeth von Arnim (1909)

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This is a story of a married, aristocratic German couple. The Baron is the narrator of his caravaning holiday which he participates in rather than shares with among others, his wife Edelgard and two other couples. Von Arnim allows his didactic manner and pedantic patriarchial opinions to draw the reader into imagining a holiday very different from the one he experiences. The reader reaching conclusions above and beyond anything imaginable by the Baron himself .

It is true that there is much of von Arnim's gentle wit and humour on offer, but a whole story devoted to satirising the Baron was too much for me. ( )
2 vote framheim | Apr 11, 2008 |
This story is written from the perspective of Baron Ottringel, a Prussian military officer, who goes on holiday to England with his wife, Edelgard. To save money, they decide to caravan--the early-20th-century version of an RV trip. They go with another lady from their town whom the Baron admires greatly, her sister and English brother-in-law, and four other English people. The Baron has very decided ideas about life a(nd about women and the English in particular), and he shares them freely both with the reader and his traveling companions. Essentially, he thinks women should be seen and not heard. Under the influence of the other travelers, his wife pays less and less attention to his demands. The others mock him, but he doesn't realize it. Soon, they begin to leave every time he turns up, which he notices but doesn't understand.

The book is absolutely hilarious. Sometimes, in a book in which a main character is supposed to be annoying and unlikeable, the character becomes so much so that the reader is too annoyed to keep reading. Von Arnim avoids this by making the Baron more ridiculous than annoying. He makes statements like, "I could only conclude that, pasty and loosely put together as they outwardly were, they must be of a very great secret leatheriness" (speaking of two of his traveling companions). The writing is clever, and the other characters have such a realistic and natural reaction to the Baron that it makes the story seem believable, even though he is completely over-the-top. ( )
2 vote carlym | Jan 20, 2008 |
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Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Elizabeth von Arnimprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Saunders, KateIntroductionsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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In June this summer there were a few fine days, and we supposed the summer had really come at last.
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"Dear husband", she said, actually imitating me, "I know what you are going to say. I always know what you are going to say. I know all the things you ever can or ever do say." She paused for a moment, and then added in a firm voice, looking me straight in the eyes, "By heart."
For the Major and his wife Edelgard, the idea of a caravanning holiday in Southern England seems perfect. As they begin their leisurely progress through its green and verdant countryside, the holiday spirit sets in. But England presents more than just a contrast of scenery to this German couple - amongst the company of their English companions Edelgard seems to undergo a change of temperament, revealing herself to be far less biddable than the upright Major had believed. The blossoming of the hedgerows is one thing, but the blossoming of his wife is quite another ...
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