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Fräulein Schmidt and Mr. Anstruther by…

Fräulein Schmidt and Mr. Anstruther (1907)

by Elizabeth von Arnim

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1205100,400 (3.96)62
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    The Melting of Molly by Maria Thompson Daviess (2wonderY)
    2wonderY: This is another epistolary novel with a fresh and witty protagonist.

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'Writing...the spirit lets itself go out to meet a fellow spirit with the frankness it can never show when the body goes too', 9 Sept. 2013
sally tarbox

This review is from: Fraulein Schmidt And Mr Anstruther: A Virago Modern Classic (VMC) (Paperback)
Written as a series of letters from Rose-Marie Schmidt of Jena, eastern Germany, to her 'dearest of all living creatures', English Roger Anstruther - until recently a language student and lodger with her family. Roger has just returned home to his much wealthier family after declaring his love, and Rose's letters are filled with impatience for his replies.
Within the first few pages, it becomes clear that Roger's constancy is fading fast, under his father's demands that he marry into the upper classes...and the relationship of the two undergoes a sea-change, with Roger becoming 'Mr Anstruther' for the rest of the book. And yet they continue to correspond, and Rose-Marie's wonderful personality begins to shine through in her letters.

Whether it's descriptions of her life of scrimping and saving (with no hint of self-pity) - humorous accounts of her attempts to run a vegetarian household - or of more serious thoughts: on the impossible position of girls of good family who don't marry; on Mr Anstruther's ingratitude as he sulkily goes off on a trip to Italy; on books and religion; of her feelings, both joy and occasional depression. But will the two ever meet again and renew their relationship?
After the first, rather saccharine letters, I was hooked, and felt I knew Rose-Marie and her world personally. ( )
  starbox | Jul 9, 2016 |
Rose-Marie Schmidt lives with her poor step-mother and father in the university town of Jena in Germany at the beginning of the 20th century. They are forced to take in lodgers to make ends meet, the latest of which was Roger Anstruther, an English student from a wealthy family, who spent a year with the Schmidt family to perfect his German, as he has views on a career at the Foreign Office. When the novel begins, Rose-Marie's first letter in this epistolary novel informs us, among other things, that Roger has asked her to marry her just before his departure to England. What follows is the one-sided correspondence of Rose-Marie's answers to Roger's letters. She is a brilliant young woman with perfect English, as her mother was and Englishwoman. Her father is a Goethe scholar, and she pours out her life philosophy and her reflections on daily life. Her passionate nature fills the pages of every letter, and she omits no details about how very humble her circumstances are, to make it very clear to her fiancé just what kind of wife he will be getting. The reader becomes immediately attached to her within the first couple of letters, but it seems Rogers has a roving nature, and within a month he has called off the engagement and gotten engaged instead to a very wealthy, much younger English young lady. Rose-Marie in the interim almost dies from a terrible illness, but within a few weeks, the correspondence picks up again, as it seems Roger has developed a strong wish to keep her as a pen-pall, and an unusual friendship develops. A fascinating character study and a subtle social commentary, I found here the Elizabeth von Arnim I so enjoyed in Elizabeth and Her German Garden, with her independent spirit shining through her observations on human nature. The ending was not as one would expect from a novel of that period, but somehow very satisfying. ( )
1 vote Smiler69 | Mar 29, 2015 |
Having discovered not long ago that Elizabeth Von Arnim novels are available free from such sites as Project Gutenberg, Many books.net and Girlebooks, I promptly downloaded four. I am puzzled how Amazon can justify still charging for these kindle books . I think however that these are the sort of books I might like to own in book format and will continue to keep an eye out for reasonably priced copies. In fact I found a nice Virago green edition of The Enchanted April just yesterday while in Hay on Wye.

This is just the second Elizabeth Von Arnim novel I have read, the first earlier this year was The Enchanted April. This is quite different from that novel, and although I enjoyed it, I can’t say that I enjoyed it as much. There is much to commend it though and the writing is certainly lovely. The novel is an epistalory novel, with a difference, as there is just one correspondent, the Miss Schmidt of the title. She is in Jena a small town in Germany and she is writing to Roger Anstruther in London, a former lodger with her family. As the novel opens she is addressing him as Roger, telling him she loves him., However it becomes clear that the replies she is receiving are not so effusive and the reader fears for Rose-Marie Schmidt, and is sure that Mr Anstruther is not worthy of this lively and intelligent letter writer. It is therefore quite poignant when Rose-Marie’s letter openings change to Dear Mr Anstruther.

The letters continue over the next year and through Fraulein Schmidt’s letters we see the changes that come to both their lives. The fortunes of the Schmidt family change quite considerably, but Rose-Marie embraces life and all it brings and tells all to her friend Mr Anstruther in her most charming letters full of chatty observations, small town anecdotes and worldly big sister type advice.

Rose-Marie Schmidt is a lovely character, it’s a testament to the excellent writing of Elizabeth Von Arnim, that the personality of this intelligent optimistic young woman comes through so sympathetically in the descriptions of her quiet life and interactions with the people around her. ( )
  Heaven-Ali | Apr 10, 2012 |
25 Dec 2010 - LibraryThing Virago Group Secret Santa gift from Parmaviolet

The letters of Rose-Marie Schmidt, from a small town in Germany, to ex-lodger Roger Anstruther, back in England having declared his love at the very last minute. Very vivid and lifelike, funny and poignant; her family and neighbours are drawn beautifully, as are the house she moves to and her relations with her servant. So far, so delightful, but the ending, heralded though it is by some acerbic comments and others' suspicions that she is a "liberated" woman, is both fresh and surprising.

I think this is the only Von Armin I didn't already have, and is a valuable and worthwhile addition to my Virago collection. ( )
2 vote LyzzyBee | Apr 25, 2011 |
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Dear Roger,--This is only to tell you that I love you, supposing you should have forgotten it by the time you get to London.
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This enchanting novel tells the story of the love affair between Rose-Marie Schmidt and Roger Anstruther. A determined young woman of twenty-five, Rose-Marie is considered a spinster by the inhabitants of the small German town of Jena where she lives with her father, the Professor. To their home comes Roger, an impoverished but well-born young Englishman who wishes to learn German. Rose-Marie and Roger fall in love. But the course of true love does not run smooth, distance, temperament and fortune divide them. We watch the ebb and flow of love between two very different people and see the witty and wonderful Rose-Marie get exactly what she wants.
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