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The Enchanted April by Elizabeth von Arnim

The Enchanted April (1922)

by Elizabeth von Arnim

Other authors: See the other authors section.

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingConversations / Mentions
1,862935,285 (4.08)1 / 494
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    An Unsuitable Attachment by Barbara Pym (digifish_books)
    digifish_books: Another fine English novel in which a vacation to Italy brings the complexities of personal relationships to the fore.
  3. 60
    Elizabeth and Her German Garden by Elizabeth von Arnim (Booksloth)
  4. 40
    A Room with a View by E. M. Forster (SylviaC)

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English (89)  Dutch (2)  French (1)  German (1)  All languages (93)
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In the words of Cole Porter, It’s delightful, It’s delicious, It’s de-lovely

The Enchanted April is sweet and soothing and heartwarming, like the holiday we find ourselves on with Lotty, Rose, Caroline and Mrs. Fisher. First off, I loved all the descriptions of the grounds and the gardens. I could see the Judas tree in bloom, the wisteria draping the arbors, and smell the frecias. The idea of a medieval castle in Italy was as charming to me as it was to Lotty Wilkins when she encountered the advertisement telling her it was available for let in April.

Lotty cannot afford a castle on her own steam, but she devises a plan that makes it possible by letting it on share with three strangers. These women are each dissatisfied with the lives they lead, they are lonely, they are stifled and they are unhappy. Over the course of a month, we watch them blossom, just like the flowers. There is nothing spectacular here, no tense dramatic plot line, no scintillating love story, but there is charm and a lesson about what you owe to self over what you owe to others that today’s women, who are busy in a different way, could still learn from.

I fell completely in love with Lotty. She was positive and friendly in the best possible way. I loved the way she bonded with the other characters and pulled them together. I loved her forgiving nature, her political incorrectness, her ability to separate the important from the petty, her honest and free nature, her love for life.

I enjoyed every paragraph of this charmer and it was exactly the breath of fresh air that I needed...my own little holiday in Italy.
( )
  phantomswife | Jul 6, 2018 |
The story of four women who answer an advertisement to spend a month at a castle in Italy. The atmosphere and the influence of one of the women (Mrs Wilkins) on the others bring about changes in each of them.

While this was a little slow in places, overall I found it amusing and enjoyable. The four women are well characterized and the initial suspicion felt by Caroline and Mrs Fisher was very well done. The scene where Rose's husband arrives and is introduced to Caroline was fabulous. ( )
  pgchuis | May 24, 2018 |
Written and set in 1920’s London and the Italian Riviera, this is a delightful escape from the dreary April weather that has become common to us here in New England. The story is a bit insipid, compared to contemporary fiction, but it was refreshing to ponder a simple holiday in a beautiful medieval Italian castle. Through her characters the author explores many life experiences and the many faces of love. Light and delightful.

"May scorched and withered; March was restless, and could be hard and cold in its brightness; but April came along softly like a blessing, and if it were a fine April it was so beautiful that it was impossible not to feel different, not to feel stirred and touched." ( )
  beebeereads | Apr 29, 2018 |
The Enchanted April is a fluffy, easy read. It’s pretty well written and the flow of the story is good.

It is the story of four women. Each unhappy with their own lives, decide to spend a month in Italy living in a charming castle.

According to von Arnim the solution to all of their problems is simple, a dose of good old family life with husband and children.

Now, don’t get me wrong. I do believe in marriage and children. I just happen to think that if you are discontent with yourself or your life you can never be happy and you lose the power to make anyone else happy for that matter.

Great personal unhappiness and a general dissatisfaction with life will not be solved as if by magic. Elizabeth von Arnim would have us believe that romantic love and marriage is the solution to all of our problems. Well, it isn’t.

In the end everything is beautifully tucked away in their own little corners. The married ladies realize that they are still passionately in love with their husbands and go back to them, the unmarried one finds a boyfriend/husband and the old, childless widow finds a whole bunch of surrogate children. Now, if only real life was that simple!

The premise of the story was good. It certainly had possibilities and von Arnim does indeed have a delightful way of writing. If only the characters developed in a different way, if only the women found something deep within themselves instead of looking for it within the men in their lives, the book could have been something more.

On the whole I’d say, if you are fond of chick lit you’ll probably love this. Otherwise, don’t bother.
  Porua | Apr 25, 2018 |
Charming with gentle humor. ( )
  leslie.98 | Apr 21, 2018 |
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» Add other authors (66 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Arnim, Elizabeth vonprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Balacco, LuisaTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Desroussilles, François DupuigrenetTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Dormagen, AdelheidTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Dunant, SarahIntroductionsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Garciá Ríos, BeatrizTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Howard, Elizabeth JaneIntroductionsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Lewin, AngieCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
May, NadiaNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
McFarlane, DebraIllustratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Prądzyńska, JoannaTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Rutten, KathleenTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Schine, CathleenIntroductionsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Terziani, SabinaTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Vickers, SalleyIntroductionsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
White, Terence de VereIntroductionsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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It began in a Woman's Club in London on a February afternoon,--an uncomfortable club, and a miserable afternoon--when Mrs. Wilkins, who had come down from Hampstead to shop and had lunched at her club, took up The Times from the table in the smoking-room, and running her listless eye down the Agony Column saw this: To Those Who Appreciate Wistaria and Sunshine.
It was just possible that she ought to go straight into the category Hysteria, which was often only the antechamber to Lunacy, but Mrs. Arbuthnot had learned not to hurry people into their final categories, having on more than one occasion discovered with dismay that she had made a mistake; and how difficult it had been to get them out again, and how crushed she had been with the most terrible remorse.
After those early painful attempts to hold him up to the point from which they had hand in hand so splendidly started, attempts in which she herself had got terribly hurt and the Frederick she supposed she had married was mangled out of recognition, she hung him up finally by her bedside as the chief subject of her prayers, and left him, except for those, entirely to God.
Wonderful that at home she should have been so good, so terribly good, and merely felt tormented. Twinges of every sort had there been her portion; aches, hurts, discouragements, and she the whole time being steadily unselfish.
She did not consciously think this, for she was having a violent reaction against beautiful clothes and the slavery they impose on one, her experience being that the instant one had got them they took one in hand and gave one no peace till they had been everywhere and been seen by everybody. You didn't take your clothes to parties; they took you. It was quite a mistake to think that a woman, a really well-dressed woman, wore out her clothes; it was the clothes that wore out the woman - dragging her about at all hours of the day and night.
Worse than jokes in the morning did she hate the idea of husbands. And everybody was always trying to press them on her - all her relations, all her friends, all the evening papers. After all, she could only marry one, anyhow; but you would think from the way everybody talked, and especially those persons who wanted to be husbands, that she could marry at least a dozen.
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This is the main work for The Enchanted April, by Elizabeth von Arnim. Please do not combine with any adaptation (e.g., film adaptation), abridgement, etc.
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Book description
From the back cover: "Colour, fragrance, light, sea; instead of Shaftesbury Avenue, and the wet omnibuses, and the fish department at Shoolbread's ... and dinner, and to-morrow the same and the day after the same and always the same."
A discreet advertisement in The Times, address to "those who Appreciate Wisteria and Sunshine ...", is the prelude to a revolutionary month for four very different women. High above a bay on the Italian Riviera stands San Salvatore, a medieval 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 spring, the violet mountains and sweet-scented flowers, they gradually shed their public skins and discover a harmony each of them has longed for but none has known. First published in 1922, reminiscent of Elizabeth and Her German Garden, this delightful novel is imbued with the descriptive power and lighthearted irreverence for which Elizabeth von Arnim was so popular.
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0860685179, Paperback)

A discrete advertisement in The Times, addressed to "those who appreciate wisteria and sunshine," is the prelude to a revelatory month for four very different women. High above a bay on the Italian Riviera stands the medieval castle San Salvatore. Beckoned to this haven are Mrs. Wilkins, Mrs. Arbuthnot, Mrs. Fisher, and Lady Caroline Dester, each quietly craving a respite. Lulled by the gentle spirit of the Mediterranean, they gradually shed their public skins, discovering a harmony each of them has longed for but none has ever known. First published in 1922, this captivating novel is imbued with the descriptive power and lighthearted irreverence for which Elizabeth von Arnim is renowned.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:13:00 -0400)

(see all 6 descriptions)

The discreet advertisement in The Times, addressed 'To Those who Appreciate Wistaria and Sunshine', offers a small medieval castle for rent, above a bay on the Italian Riviera. Four very different women - the dishevelled and downtrodden Mrs Wilkins, the sad, sweet-faced Mrs Arbuthnot, the formidable widow Mrs Fisher and the ravishing socialite Lady Caroline Dester - are drawn to the shores of the Mediterranean that April. As each, in turn, blossoms in the warmth of the Italian spring and finds their spirits stirring, quite unexpected changes occur.… (more)

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NYRB Classics

2 editions of this book were published by NYRB Classics.

Editions: 1590172256, 1590174313

Penguin Australia

An edition of this book was published by Penguin Australia.

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