Read Un incantevole aprile by Elizabeth von Arnim Luisa Balacco Online


Un discreto annuncio pubblicitario: «Per gli amanti del glicine e del sole...» apparso sul «Times» è il preludio a un mese rivelatore per quattro donne dalla personalità assai diversa. A picco su una baia della Riviera, tra giardini di calle, violacciocche e acacie, si staglia il castello medievale di San Salvatore. Alla ricerca disperata di sollievo dalle preoccupazioni qUn discreto annuncio pubblicitario: «Per gli amanti del glicine e del sole...» apparso sul «Times» è il preludio a un mese rivelatore per quattro donne dalla personalità assai diversa. A picco su una baia della Riviera, tra giardini di calle, violacciocche e acacie, si staglia il castello medievale di San Salvatore. Alla ricerca disperata di sollievo dalle preoccupazioni quotidiane, Mrs Wilkins, Mrs Arbuthnot, Mrs Fisher e Lady Caroline Dester si lasciano allettare da quel parafiso terrestre. Cullate dalla primavera mediterranea, dai monti ammantati di violette e fiori dal dolce profumo, queste donne abbandonano a poco a poco i formalismi di società e scoprono un'armonia da tutte anelata e tuttavia mai conosciuta. Pubblicato nel 1922, e simile per vari aspetti a "Il giardino di Elizabeth", questo romanzo è imbevuto di quella capacità descrittiva e di spensierata irriverenza che costituiscono il tratto tipico della scrittura di Elizabeth von Arnim....

Title : Un incantevole aprile
Author :
Rating :
ISBN : 9788833907918
Format Type : Paperback
Number of Pages : 240 Pages
Status : Available For Download
Last checked : 21 Minutes ago!

Un incantevole aprile Reviews

  • Jacob
    2019-01-20 19:21

    June 2012Dissatisfied with their respective lots in life, four English women divorce their respective husbands, get a hefty advance for a book deal, and go off to Italy to enjoy the wisteria (a kind of pasta, I think). After a month of wisteria and freesias and syringa (more pasta?), the women all go to India, where they become spiritual. Following that, they go to Bali, and take handsome exotic Indonesian men as lovers. When they return home, wiser and more enlightened than before, they write wise and enlightened books.Wait, what? What was that? They don't go to Indonesia? Or India? They don't take lovers or become prayer-tourists? They just take a month-long vacation in an Italian castle, and they don't divorce their respective husbands? Their respective husbands later join them on their vacation? A WISTERIA IS A KIND OF FLOWER? WHAT THE HELL KIND OF BOOK IS THIS?A very delightful one, actually. You should read it.

  • Brina
    2019-02-19 22:26

    Elizabeth von Arnim strikes me as an interesting character. A writer brought up in influential circles, she married no less than five times in her life, and also enjoyed an affair with writer H.G. Wells after he ended his own affair with Von Arnim's rival Rebecca West. When one of von Arnim's disastrous marriages ended in 1921, she decided to spend a month at Italian castello Portofino as a way to clear her head. The idea for her classic book The Enchanted April has been born. Von Arnim had the book published in 1922, and today it merits inclusion in Erica Bauermeister's book 500 Great Books by Women. This book is as charming as the spell cast by Portofino castle, and is still widely read today. Lotty Wilkins and Rose Arbuthnot lived a life of relative obscurity in the Hampstead section of London. Both were virtually ignored by their husbands and had the longing to get away from it all. One day, Lotty Wilkins noticed an advertisement in the Times to rent an Italian villa named San Salvatore in April for £ 60. Mesmerized by the idea but not wanting to spend her entire nest egg on the castle, she recruits Arbuthnot to join her. Later, the women ask Lady Caroline Dester and a Mrs Fisher to join them as well, making the pair into a foursome, and, more importantly, making the castle rental into an affordable getaway.Even though Wilkins and Arbuthnot made the initial arrangements, Mrs Fisher and Lady Caroline shrewdly arrive at the castle first to claim the better rooms for themselves. The latter two women enjoy a higher standard of living than the former and want to ensure that they have an enjoyable holiday. Almost instantaneously, San Salvatore works its magic on all four women. An air of happiness overtakes them and rather than being bitter with their station in life, they talk of love being in the air. Wilkins and Arbuthnot originally came to the castle to get away from their husbands, but within a week, both women write their husbands asking them to join them in this enchanting setting. Within the month, all four women are the best of friends, although this takes time, especially with Mrs Fisher. I thought the writing was basic yet descriptive and the plot to be straightforward with few twists and turns along the way. Von Arnim was writing from personal experience and recreated the Portofino castello where she enjoyed a monthlong holiday. This book was originally published within a year of her excursion, so the memories were fresh, especially the descriptions of the sea air and ever changing flowers. These descriptions of time and place ended up working for me much better than the plot developments. While Von Arnim's novel is considered her greatest book, it did not captivate me completely. I enjoyed the seaside setting of the Italian castle, but I enjoy a complex plot of intrigue as well as multilayered character development. The ladies here while pleasant do not pack the punch for me as protagonists, although I give them much credit, especially in their era, for desiring a holiday independent of their husbands. The Enchanted April was a pleasant read for a lazy summer afternoon. I am sure the castle itself would have cast its spell on me as it did the ladies in this book, but the novel will not be an all time favorite for me. Still, The Enchanted April is a worthwhile read, which I rate 3.5 stars.

  • StevenGodin
    2019-02-16 21:17

    You can't best a good old holiday in warmer climates, but for the four ladies at the heart of Elizabeth von Arnim's 1922 novel there is more to it than that. The story is both a triumph to the transformative power of travel, and charmed with a decorative feel like that of a sun-kissed fairytale. von Arnim certainly cast a spell over me, and although we may only be talking of the Italian coast, it really felt like being whisked further away, enraptured in another world. Four very different women in terms of age and attitudes respond to an advertisement in the Times appealing to "those who appreciate wisteria and sunshine" to come and rent a small medieval Italian castle for a month. That month being April of course. The two original two respondents, Mrs Wilkins and Mrs Arbuthnot, are joined in their escapism by the youthful Lady Caroline, whose beauty and general melodiousness have become something of a burden to her, and the formidable Mrs Fisher, who first appears a bit of a grouch, but she slowly succumbs to the pleasant environment after initially insisting the other guests think of her as just as "an old lady with a stick". She sets about imposing her will on the rest, which makes up just one part of the story. Each lady is vaguely unsatisfied with their lot and Mrs Wilkins and Mrs Arbuthnot both have marriages of quiet English unhappiness, but that is about to change as both husbands are invited to come and stay, and it's this holiday reunion that sparks a deeper love, not just for the wives and husbands, but something is opened up in all of them.Elizabeth Von Arnim has a keen eye for small human failings, the little acts of pettiness and selfishness in which most people indulge. She is perceptive about the way people misread one another's good and not so good intentions, and the early chapters read like a comedy of miscommunication. I felt it wasn't until the second half that the novel really shines, the characters seem fuller, growing on you like a petite garden flower. She also, perhaps not surprisingly, given her famed German garden revels in the descriptions of the castle grounds and their beauty and colour, like reading a vivid painting as literature. Everything is centred on the castle and guests, there are no outside influences, creating it's own little world of delight. The surroundings really do rub off on the women, they eventually start to wake up, shifting in the perceptions of love and life.When I think back to how the novel opened with misery and cold rain, by the time I reached it's happy finale all was forgotten. The story was both humorous and wise, with a wisp of a premise, but von Arnim's brilliant writing transforms it into something much more, a possible satire on post-WWI British society, a sardonic rumination on human foibles, and a tale of women coming into their own. And most impressive of all, she makes it look effortless. The four main characters are precisely drawn, and their transformation during this break works it's way into the reader, you can't help feel but a rapturous joy in their presence.It is written in a way that evokes geniality, without dipping her toes into the waters of sentimentality, which is a testament to her talent as a writer. And it's sweet pleasant temperament and light-hearted nature made for an easy, comfortable read, in fact had it been any lighter in tone, one could read this whilst the book floats in mid air. This would be an ideal candidate for that 'holiday book' whilst relaxing by the sea with a slightly chilled chianti. On holiday reading of a holiday, perfect fit!, sadly I had to settle for the Parisian suburbs. But not to worry, von Arnim brings the holiday to you in the comfort of your own home.

  • Tadiana ✩Night Owl☽
    2019-01-19 20:14

    Four proper English ladies, who don't really know each other at all, decide to pool their resources and rent an Italian villa for a month, in the 1920's. They all have different personalities and there are some conflicting expectations. To make matters worse, (view spoiler)[the husband of one of the women, who has had an estranged marriage, shows up pursuing one of the other women, without realizing his wife is another of the guests (hide spoiler)]. How can this possibly not go south really fast?I saw the movie version of this book when it came out about 1992. Somehow I talked my fiancée (now husband) into seeing it with me; memory and imagination fail as to how exactly I pulled that off. So we're watching the first part of the movie as these British ladies try to figure out how to pull off a month-long vacation trip to Italy (without husbands), and their lives are dreary, and they arrive in Italy and it's dark and rainy and everyone's confused and upset, and my guy and I are both thinking, man, this is going to be either bleak or angsty, which is so not either of our thing.Then morning dawns and it's just absolutely lovely. And the rest of the movie is too.So I'm surprised that it took me so long to read this 1922 book, especially since it's a Gutenberg freebie and all. But I finally did, and it's as delightful as the movie, though there are a few interesting differences.* What I most appreciated in this book is the additional insights into the characters, and how they grow and are changed by Italy and by their association with each other. When two of the ladies initially show some real selfishness in Italy, one of the other ladies, Rose, wants to fight back and assert herself, and I'm all, yes! Don't let them get away with this! Fight for your rights! But Lotty tells Rose to let it go."What is rather silly," said Mrs. Wilkins with much serenity, "is to mind. I can't see the least point in being in authority at the price of one's liberty."Lotty was wiser than both of us. Let it be, and let love and beauty and acceptance work their changes in their own time.Scrap looked up at the pine-tree motionless among stars. Beauty made you love, and love made you beautiful. . .She pulled her wrap closer round her with a gesture of defence, of keeping out and off. She didn't want to grow sentimental. Difficult not to, here; the marvelous night stole in through all one's chinks, and brought in with it, whether one wanted them or not, enormous feelings—feelings one couldn't manage, great things about death and time and waste; glorious and devastating things, magnificent and bleak, at once rapture and terror and immense, heart-cleaving longing. She felt small and dreadfully alone. She felt uncovered and defenceless. Instinctively she pulled her wrap closer. With this thing of chiffon she tried to protect herself from the eternities."I suppose," whispered Lotty, "Rose's husband seems to you just an ordinary, good-natured, middle-aged man."Scrap brought her gaze down from the stars and looked at Lotty a moment while she focused her mind again."Just a rather red, rather round man," whispered Lotty.Scrap bowed her head."He isn't," whispered Lotty. "Rose sees through all that. That's mere trimmings. She sees what we can't see, because she loves him."Always love.It may strike some readers as a bit too sweet and simplistic, but I loved it.Buddy read with Ashley, Hannah, Willow, Diane Lynn, Hana and Jaima: April 2015 <------ we loved the serendipity here.*Some of the differences:(view spoiler)[Lady Caroline's personality, though world-weary in both the book and the film, seemed much more worldly and edgy in the movie. In the book there's no affair between Lady Caroline and another character's husband; there's the potential for one, but it gets nicely snuffed out before anything ever starts. Or maybe I just assumed there was an ongoing affair in the movie? (Dang, I need to go watch it again.) Also, Mr. Briggs' terrible near-sightedness is not in the book, but I thought it was a great addition in the movie.(hide spoiler)] I think Elizabeth von Arnim would have approved. Free online at Gutenberg here, but be warned that there are several typos in this version. ["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>

  • Rowena
    2019-01-26 23:23

    “All down the stone steps on either side were periwinkles in full flower, and she could now see what it was that had caught at her the night before and brushed, wet and scented across her face. It was wistaria. Wistaria and sunshine.”This was a lovely book about four English women who answer an advertisement to rent an Italian chateau in San Salvatore,Italy during a dismal April in England. The advertisement seems to be a godsend to these women, whose lives are not going the way they had hoped. As the title word “enchanted” implies, the story does have a slight fairytale-like aura to it, but not annoyingly so.I wasn’t expecting to enjoy this book so much, on the outset it looked like it would be an extremely slow read. However, it turned out to be very enjoyable. Elizabeth Von Armin is a masterful storyteller. Her writing is beautiful and witty. Also, for a floraphile such as myself, her descriptions of flowers were heavenly:“The wistaria was tumbling over itself in its excess of life, its prodigality of flowering; and where the pergola ended the sun blazed on scarlet geraniums, bushes of them and nasturtiums in great heaps, and marigolds so brilliant that they seemed to be burning, and red and pink snapdragons all outdoing each other in bright, fierce colour.”Additionally, as a person whose life has been changed by travel, I think this book is a great advertisement for travelling to renew your soul and learn more about yourself and others.My first Von Armin and it definitely won’t be my last. Highly recommended.

  • Eve
    2019-01-20 17:16

    “It was, that year, a particularly wonderful spring, and of all the months at San Salvatore April, if the weather was fine, was best. 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.”One of my aunts recently introduced me to fruit infused water. In the scorching Texas heat, which has already begun its brutal descent, cucumber lemon water has been extremely refreshing and invigorating–a definite heat repellant. That’s exactly how I would describe the taste and effect of this book on me after my previous reading choices.Four British women, all strangers and unique to each other, let a castle high up on the Italian Riviera in April to escape the dismal London weather. Although initially all seem to be evading the weather and personal living situations, the magical effects of their surroundings in Italy produce profound effects on each of them. At once introspective, each begins to realize what they yearn for most, and go about setting things to rights.While the theme reminded me of several of E.M. Forster’s novels, I loved the unique female perspective of each character. At turns hilarious and romantic, I enjoyed every aspect of it so much so that I color coded each character with sticky note flags so I could easily find passages when a good laugh is needed. I was smitten by all of the women, and found bits of myself in each of them. Von Arnim's poetic descriptions of gardens and the lush landscapes also enriched the novel; I felt like I was there. What an affordable and ideal way to travel!

  • Bobby Underwood
    2019-01-26 19:31

    Much like the film this book by Elizabeth Von Arnim inspired, there is something peaceful here on these pages. This is a gentle novel about gradual internal changes brought about by the beauty of our surroundings. It is a book that reads itself as much as it is read, the author writing with the flow of the characters' thoughts and feelings, as their hearts are changed by the surprise of beauty.An ad to rent a castle in San Salvatore on the Italian Riviera will prompt two British women of slight acquaintance named Rose and Lottie to inexplicably leave their husbands behind for a summer that will change their lives and their marriages forever. Joining Rose and Lottie for this holiday is Mrs. Fisher, an older woman living in the past, and Lady Caroline Dester, a gray-eyed society beauty tired of being gawked at like a majestic statue. Diverse in nature and temperament, not to mention background, the three women interact uneasily together until flowers and the sea bring about a change in their very souls.Surrounded by fig and olive trees, plum blossoms and Tamarisk daphnes, and the fragrance of fortune's yellow rose and blooming acacias, the women begin to discover their roles at this castle by the sea and, in doing so, find themselves as well.This is a novel about life and love, told gently through the emotions of these women, as the surprise of beauty, and the warmth of being suddenly admired and seen as beautiful -- when they had not been before -- changes their simple lives, which were not so simple at all.A peaceful yet breathtaking portrait of love is painted by the author, in a pleasing and gentle manner readers will find enchanting. A beautiful read on paper, one that refreshes the soul and calms the spirit. It is about love restored and love discovered, along the wistaria-covered steps leading down to the sea. You will definitely enjoy this novel if you enjoyed the lovely film it inspired.

  • Cecily
    2019-02-14 18:19

    Enchanting TransformationThe enchantment of the title is apt, as there is an almost magical feel about the power of a beautiful landscape. This is a carefully observed story of characters and transformation – including, perhaps, the reader. It constantly juxtaposes light with underlying sadness and hope. It’s about finding the courage to shake off undeserved guilt, rattle convention, and be true to yourself – and thus to others in your life. “Now she had taken off all her goodness and left it behind her like a heap in rain-sodden clothes, and she only felt joy. She was naked of goodness, and was rejoicing in being naked.”Everyone has some unspoken gap or sadness in their lives, despite outward ordinariness or even success. But inertia, fear, societal pressure keep them in their place. This is the story of what happens when each character takes a small, uncharacteristic step away from the quotidian, leading to more significant steps. Everyone is changed, some more quickly and dramatically than others. It sounds sentimental, and at times feels a little so (especially near the end), and yet it is delightful and waspishly Wildean. It's also a little unbelievable - but if the enchantment works for you, you'll forgive that.PlotThis section is not a spoiler, and says little more than the blurb on the book itself. The real plot is the character development.Mrs Wilkins is “running her listless eye down the Agony Column” when she spots an advert to rent an Italian castle for a month. It’s way beyond her means, but the mention of its wisteria is a draw, especially when she “stared out at the dripping street”. Wisteria has many mentions in the book, along with other flowers, but really, it’s the people who are flowering: in a new environment, they are liberated in ways that did not seem possible back in England in 1922.Mrs Wilkins asks Mrs Arbuthnot, who she knows by sight from church, to come with her. They then advertise for two other women to join them and share the cost. As soon as they arrive in Italy, despite a bad journey, “the whole inflamed sore dreariness, had faded to the dimness of a dream”. The weather was not initially welcoming, “But it was Italy. Nothing it did could be bad. The very rain was different— straight rain, falling properly on to one's umbrella; not that violently blowing English stuff that got in everywhere”.The four women differ in age, outlook, social position, relationship status and more. Inevitably, men are added to the picture.Humour comes from attempts to nab the best room, the etiquette of who is hostess (the one who initiated it, the most senior by age or rank; it certainly confuses the Italian staff), a dodgy boiler, and later, somewhat farcical aspects of mistaken assumptions and who is partnered with who.It was only when I was half way through, I realised how apposite the timing was. It’s about four strangers who rent an Italian castle in April. I read it in August, finishing the day before I headed to France and Italy, for a trip that included staying in a villa with a group that included friends and strangers. I wasn’t as transformed as the characters here, but I think I unfurled a little.CastThis is the heart of the book.Lotty WilkinsShe is a quiet, introverted woman in her mid 30s who seems older and more humble than she is. She thinks of herself as poor and still has a clothing allowance from her father – yet she’s married to a solicitor, lives in Hampstead and has a club.“She was the kind of person who is not noticed at parties. Her clothes, infested by thrift, made her practically invisible.” But she is also impulsive: she takes the initiative with the castle and she has a tendency to say what she thinks – not in a rude way, but it can seem a little improper or presumptive to others, particularly when saying what and why she thinks they are feeling.She justifies the extravagance of the holiday in the expectation that she will return a nicer person. Her first night alone in five years feels strange, but there is joy and power in “her room bought with her own savings, the fruit of her careful denials, whose door she could bolt if she wanted to, and nobody had the right to come in”. She is almost instantly transformed by the heavenly setting, relaxing and gaining confidence. In Rose’s eyes, Lotty was “impetuously becoming a saint. Could one really attain goodness so violently?” (view spoiler)[In the spirit of bliss, she invites her husband to join her – without consulting the others. He notices there is “not a shred of fear of him left in her” and there is a virtuous circle of her happiness and his warm response.(hide spoiler)]Mellersh WilkinsLotty’s husband is thrifty with everything, except for food – even words, thus “producing the impression of keeping copies of everything he said”. He’s an ambitious networker, and unlike his wife, he “gave a party, merely by coming to it, a great air.”At home, he’s colder. Wanting to escape “the persistent vileness of the weather”, he proposes a holiday, and “as it would cause comment if he did not take his wife, take her he must—besides, she would be useful… for holding things, for waiting with the luggage”! (That holiday didn’t happen.)(view spoiler)[At the castle, as more people arrive and there are shades of bedroom farce, he relishes – and cultivates - the possibility of legal advice arising from the apparently complex web of relationships. He is grudgingly grateful to Lotty for this opportunity - not that he says so to her. Lady Caroline warms to him, because he’s not predatory like other men; in fact he’s just as predatory, but not in a sexual sense.(hide spoiler)]Rose ArbuthnotHer life is governed by “God, Husband, Home, Duty”. “The very way Mrs Arbuthnot parted her hair suggested a great calm that could only proceed from wisdom.” She’s a pillar of the church, leading good works and giving to the poor, in part to appease her guilt at her husband’s new – and profitable – career of writing salacious fictitious memoirs of kings’ mistresses and their ilk: “Her very nest egg was the fruit, posthumously ripened, of ancient sin”. She feels guilty about the extravagance of her holiday, despite her husband’s generosity.She’s 33 and has been married for 13 years, and mourns “This separate life, this freezing loneliness”. Their only baby died. (view spoiler)[When she goes to Italy, she doesn’t tell her husband beforehand, but merely leaves him a note that doesn’t even say where she’s gone. She avoids talking about him and is happy for Mrs Fisher to assume her a widow.Rose’s transformation is slower and more painful than Lotty’s. Previously, “Her scheduled life in the parish had prevented memories and desires from intruding on her.” She now has time to think, but finds it hard to pray. “San Salvatore had taken her carefully built-up semblance of happiness away from her, and given her nothing in exchange.” She’s more aware of her love for her husband and the loss of their baby. “How passionately she longed to be important to somebody again… privately important, just to one other person.”Nevertheless, seeing Lotty’s happiness, she eventually invites Frederick, despite her perpetual fear she’ll bore him. He arrives oddly quickly.(hide spoiler)]Frederick ArbuthnotRose’s writer husband is rarely at home, but “he never went out of the house without her blessing going with him too, hovering, like a little echo of finished love.” He’s hurt by her disapproval of his writing, her reluctance to spend his money, and the way she has drifted away from him. (view spoiler)[He’s 40 and moves in social circles as the author of titillating potboilers. His life bristles with complications, but he’s quick-witted and laid back.(hide spoiler)] Lady Caroline Dester, aka ScrapShe’s a beautiful, rich, “extravagantly slender”, young flapper, tired of the social whirl. She sees herself as “a spoilt, a sour, a suspicious, and a selfish spinster”, though no one else does.She is “wholly taken up by one great longing, a longing to get away from everybody she had ever known”, including those she’s sharing the castle with. Her success is limited in part by an odd inability to seem nasty or cross. For example, “what felt to her an indignant stare appeared to Mrs. Fisher as really charming docility”.She has “the deep and melancholy fatigue, of the too much” which turns out to mean being constantly “grabbed” by men, “it was just as if she didn't belong to herself, wasn't her own at all, but was regarded as a universal thing, a sort of beauty-of-all-work”. The only man she loved and would have married had died in the war. “She was afraid of nothing in life except love” and “Nothing bored her so much as people who insisted on being original”.Mrs FisherA rather stuffy, proper widow of 65. Some of her lines are reminiscent of Lady Bracknell. She’s living on memories not of her husband, but the great literary figures she knew as a child, always name-dropping, even in her own thoughts: Ruskin, Tennyson, Browning, Carlyle, Matthew Arnold, as well as the President of the Royal Academy, the Archbishop of Canterbury and the Governor of the Bank of England. She’s well off, but rather parsimonious. Her house was inherited and “Death had furnished it for her”. Her husband had “behaved very much like maccaroni. He had slipped, he had wriggled, he had made her feel undignified”, though we’re spared details.(view spoiler)[Eventually, inevitably, Mrs Fisher has “a ridiculous feeling as if she were presently going to burgeon. Sternly she tried to frown the unseemly sensation down. Burgeon, indeed. She had heard of dried staffs, pieces of mere dead wood, suddenly putting forth fresh leaves, but only in legend. She was not in legend… Dignity demanded that she should have nothing to do with fresh leaves at her age; and yet there it was—the feeling that presently, that at any moment now, she might crop out all green.”(hide spoiler)]Thomas BriggsHe’s the owner, in his early 30s. (view spoiler)[He’s keen to settle down and have a family. He’s the human manifestation of the transformative power of the castle itself.Lotty and Rose met him in London prior to renting the house. He assumed them to be widows and took a fancy to Rose, so he decides to visit. “The more Mr Briggs thought Rose charming the more charming she became.” He, an orphan, affects childless Mrs Fisher, too, “blossoming out into real amiability the moment some one came along who was charming to her”. Then he sees Lady Caroline… And of course she assumes he’s just another grabber.(hide spoiler)]Ferdinand ArundelA writer who fancies Lady Caroline, and tracks her down in the castle, via her mother.(view spoiler)[He’s actually Frederick Arbuthnot in Hampstead and Ferdinand Arundel in town, rather like Jack/Earnest in The Importance of Being Earnest (see my review HERE).(hide spoiler)]Quotes• A “prolonged quarrel… conducted with dignified silence on one side and earnest apology on the other.”• “To be missed, to be needed… was… better than the complete loneliness of not being missed or needed at all.”• “Incredible as it may seem, seeing how they get into everything, Mrs. Wilkins had never come across any members of the aristocracy.”• “All the radiance of April in Italy lay gathered together at her feet. The sun poured in on her. The sea lay asleep in it, hardly stirring. Across the bay the lovely mountains, exquisitely different in colour, were asleep too in the light; and underneath her window, at the bottom of the flower-starred grass slope from which the wall of the castle rose up, was a great cypress, cutting through the delicate blues and violets and rose-colours of the mountains and the sea like a great black sword.”• “Up to now she had had to take what beauty she could as she went along, snatching at little bits of it when she came across it… She had never been in definitely, completely beautiful places.”• “This was the simple happiness of complete harmony with her surroundings, the happiness that asks for nothing, that just accepts, just breathes, just is.”• “She was having a violent reaction against beautiful clothes and the slavery they impose on one… 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.”• “Colour seemed flung down anyhow, anywhere; every sort of colour, piled up in heaps, pouring along in rivers… They stood looking at this crowd of loveliness, this happy jumble, in silence.”• “How and where husbands slept should be known only to their wives. Sometimes it was not known to them, and then the marriage had less happy moments; but these moments were not talked about either.” Shades of Lady Bracknell. • Her face “became elaborately uninterested”.• “There were many things she disliked more than anything else.”• “It is true she liked him most when he wasn't there, but then she usually liked everybody most when they weren't there.”• “Inheritance was more respectable than acquisition. It did indicate fathers; and in an age where most people appeared neither to have them nor to want them she liked this too.”• “He certainly looked exactly like a husband, not at all like one of those people who go about abroad pretending they are husbands.”• “The marvelous night stole in through all one's chinks, and brought in with it… enormous feelings—feelings one couldn't manage.”More Adult StoryFor a sexed up version of something slightly similar, see DH Lawrence's short story, Sun, which I reviewed HERE.The FilmThe 1991 film is very good, really capturing the atmosphere of the book, though I'm glad I read the book first: excellent cast includes Miranda Richardson (Rose), Josie Lawrence (Lotty), Joan Plowright (Mrs Fisher), Jim Broadbent (Frederick Arbuthnot), Alfred Molina (Mellersh Wilkins), and Michael Kitchen (Mr Briggs). WARNING ABOUT THIS EDITION OF THE BOOK (Watchmaker Publishing)I don’t know if this was transcribed from audio, or badly scanned, or even if it’s been this way for nearly a century, but my copy has a lot of odd typos. (American spelling was also a surprise.)• “I wonder got which is best."• “they each hand over a reasonable sun every week”• “When Lady Caroline wants is one dose”• “a hurried scribble, showing how much bored he was at doing it”• “"You se," Mrs. Wilkins said”• “they each out to have somebody happy inside them”• “if any one was shaken of it was she herself”• “He had not hear her.”There are also some unpaired quotation marks, some serif and some not.Image source:["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>

  • Kim
    2019-02-02 21:03

    Some spoilers ahead, so beware. On a whim, I joined a few of my GR friends in a group read of this novel, which I'd not read previously. Originally published in 1922, the premise of the narrative is appealing: four unrelated women share a medieval castle on the Italian Riviera for a month, the "enchanted April" of the title. Each woman has a reason to escape her life in gloomy London and, in time, each woman is transformed by the experience.The novel gets lots of love from reviewers and I understand why. It has warmth, wit and charm. It's also an ode to friendship, love and the transformative power of travel, sunshine and a beautiful environment. In addition, there's a fairytale element to the work - the use of the word "enchanted" in the title is a bit of giveaway. As much I appreciate the strengths of the work, for me it fell away once the husbands of two of the characters arrived. I found both men's new appreciation for their wives difficult to believe. Fairytale endings are all very well, but the idea that badly damaged marriages are going to fix themselves quite so quickly stretches credulity just a bit too far. As did the behaviour of another male character, who turns up romantically interested in one of the women and transfers his interest to another within nanoseconds. Overall, while I like the female characters a lot, the men don't have much to be said for them. I'm not convinced that the enchantment would last after Italy, April and sunshine had disappeared. But then, I've never been much of a romatic. Reading this has made me want to run away to Italy for a while. The idea of a month in a medieval castle with views of the Mediterranean is very appealing indeed, whether or not it works magic. 3.5 stars, rounded up to 4 stars for the fun of reading the book with others.

  • Sarah
    2019-01-24 23:21

    Shall I tell you a secret? .. It's always been my fantasy to share a castle with my friends!This book was a joy to read! It satisfies so many of my literary cravings: kinship, validation, botanical beauty. There's a shy misfit, a beautiful socialite. All four voices, though quite distinct, resonated with me in some way. Elizabeth von Arnim was very smart in the way she developed characters and intertwined their separate narratives into one cohesive whole. I was just enough aware of literary device to be impressed by it, though nothing ever felt forced. It felt as effortless as a fresh, April breeze. I was made giddy by the deceptive simplicity of it all.I'm a little conflicted as to how I should shelve this book. My "ink in full flower" shelf refers to floral imagery (seen here in abundance) but also to poetic prose. Her prose, for me, is a little too sparse. Poetic, in its way, but not quite vivid enough. It's my only criticism, as I very much appreciated this novel. There's something so inclusive about it, --perhaps because it's a happy story about sad people, perhaps because she defended her characters while allowing for growth and transformation. There's a warmth and a sweetness, an innate hopefulness. I definitely recommend it.

  • Mariel
    2019-02-05 21:14

    There's a castle in Italy. Wisteria grows there. Can you picture the private wilderness? The castle is not important. It is a fortress to protect the plants. Don't tread on me. More importantly, can you see yourself there? It's a little place unmolested and unpressed on by who you are in all of those other places you can't quite see yourself in but you're still there all the same. If you wander around in that bit of wild life will you leave tracks in the dirt there too? You know that Camera Obscure song "Let's Get out of this Country" (great song)? "We'll find a cathedral city, you'll convince me I'm pretty." What does it take to convince you?! It's freaking pretty. There's wisteria! (Is that purple? The crayon called wisteria is purple. Color me stupid if I'm wrong.) It's a bit of land. Be pretty. I feel like I should know more songs about this. Kings of Convenience's "Gold in the Air of Summer". Patrick Wolf's "The Gypsy King". "How do I follow? What road to be choosing? Do I follow the star or The Gypsy King?" I know this feeling. I'm thinking the special thing about The Enchanted April is that desire. Let's get out of this country and we will shine like gold in the air of summer. (If you know more songs like this please share. I've felt for some time that it was a kind of song I should have been collecting.)I know why the advertisement for the castle with the wisteria brought up such longing in Lotty Wilkins and Rose (I forgot how to spell her A name so we get to be on first name basis. I wish I felt better about this presumption). Sometimes I get to feeling too trapped in myself that going somewhere else helps so much. Going to the beach with a book (the mind escape is as vital). The taking of you out of what you can't shake as being a part of you. (Kristen tells me that I should kite surf when I get like that. I wish that I could afford one of these kites. I bet that kite surfing high would last.) I read with hope in my heart that they were going to really spend Lotty's nest egg (a life time of denying herself to save for a rainy day that she had not really intended on having. Oh!). Rose would get out of the guilt of what she believed she should be doing: religious guilt, the needs of others. Recurring problem in others and not a cliche at all. Elizabeth von Arnim is so good! I could feel the weight on their shoulders and it was enough. In November I went to Berlin with my twin sister. Spending all of the savings in one big go because the having that to look forward to is totally something I would do. Is it so easy, though?Elizabeth recommended this book to me (thank you, Elizabeth!!) because we were talking about breaking your own heart books. The special thing (I'm getting a bit obsessed with pinpointing to myself what makes something special) about The Enchanted April is that it takes that further. What's the missing part? What is going to become easier to carry if you do something for yourself that is solely for the pleasure of it? Paying attention to the wrong things and reasons until other people become part of that scenery you are the wrong you in. Why does changing something like the background alter the before unhindered path? If you willed yourself into the background I suppose it would...I wasn't an all new Mariel in Berlin. There was the socially awkward moment typical to me when I bought tickets to the super famous Roman and Greek antiquities museums and then didn't go in because the employee was a bitch to me. I turned tail and ran. Then I fell down outside. And it started to rain! (When it happened I told myself that I'd never tell anyone it did.) The only thing missing was a teary Madonna track like the sob scene in Never Been Kissed (that only made me bawl like no movie has ever made me bawl in my life because I was pmsing!). Other times I had such fun doing things that I could really do at home, or any where else. It didn't take much. It's like the wisteria. I loved so much imagining the past when in historical sites. I liked that the people didn't seem to want to force themselves to exude happiness. I liked that no one knew me. It was an illusion of freedom that's really always there (and not an illusion), if the part of you that allows that is there. All new. Did Lady Caroline aka Scrap (ha! I loved it when von Arnim switches to identifying her as Scrap midway. Revenge!) really get pinned by what she thought were other's needs on her person? Lotty could talk as she could only in her head before because she wasn't nervous. Maybe it has to do with echoes of your own mistakes haunting you. If you leave the haunted house? I think there's a lot to be said for that bit of land. The special thing about The Enchanted April is the desire to have that gold in the air of summer glow. Ah, but what about the after glow? I felt the potential. What about the April? I didn't feel like I got one enough. I don't know if this is a criticism or not. It's something that occurred to me and then stayed there in the back of my mind. Maybe I need a new setting to figure out what it is. The air between them -- Don't forget Mrs. Fisher, Mariel! Yes, they are accompanied by an old lady who has no one any longer. She holds onto her money because she WILL be taking it with her when she dies. She influenced me a bit towards Lotty, I must admit. Or I just agreed with her. Lotty lost me with all of her certainty once she is in the castle. She "sees" and knows and it is without question. What was the missing part of her and where was it found in Italy? It's true that a new morning can make what seemed hopeless the night before better. Was it something to be admired or does it just preclude me from knowing her beyond this? Will that good mood continue? I know that I wouldn't have been friends with Rose either. I think it is because they don't question a lot (and the goody two shoesness of it all). It was interesting that the air von Armin puts between them often reads like action that has taken place off stage. It wasn't important what happened as much as that it did. I'm not sure how I feel about that but it was an interesting dynamic, like a place out of time. Done deal. They were all in their own ruts for whatever reason (mostly the burden of expectation, perceived or otherwise) and took for granted. In a new place! I don't like to take for granted. (That's what is great about new places. You aren't used to them and you don't take for granted what you are not used to.)Mrs. Fisher and Rose's battle to be the mistress of the castle was too funny. Rose follows up every request for tea or food something with the same. "Will you have some tea?" "Will you?" Neither of them understand why the other is doing what they are doing. This is all my confused and roundabout way of saying that I felt the desire more than the change. Expectations persisted. Dammit, it was probably because I was not there. I could only see the advertisement for the wisteria... Why didn't they long for more when they got there. If you get the dream and then there are no more dreams then it is worse. I miss having the something to look forward to."How passionately she longed to be important to somebody again- not important on platforms, not important as an asset in an organization, but privately important, just to one other person, quite privately, nobody else to know or notice. It didn't seem much to ask in a world so crowded with people, just to have one of them, only one out of all the millions, to oneself. Somebody who needed one, who thought of one, who was eager to come to one- oh, oh how dreadfully one wanted to be precious!"I want to see preciousness. If Scrap lived in mortal fear (it's all so life and death) of being grabbed at (it was all so tyrannical to her) then I live in ruin another perfectly good location fear of grabbing. I don't want to take it for granted that I "see" it all played out as Lotty does. Off stage? Not as good. Guess you can't get out of the country forever. Guess it is a good idea to find what the hell the missing thing is. The physics (I blame science) reason for breaking ones own heart in the first place is probably connected to that. And it feels less off stage if they notice as I'm noticing why they are doing those things. (I suspect it gets to that unimpeded train of expectations when what you're noticing is only what you are noticing. Not that I'm wise or nothing.)P.s. I really liked this book! (But they aren't invited to my villa. I wanna be pretty and you be handsome with someone who will sit under the trees and not worry about what god thinks about it. At least I don't agonize over what is proper or not! It could be so much worse.)

  • Sue
    2019-01-21 22:21

    Very enjoyable story of 4 English women who holiday in Italy to escape their lonely lives in London. The transformations wrought by the Italian sun and the landscape are wonderful to behold. There is a delicious note of irony behind the narrative as we watch these women wake up in a decidedly un-feminist time from their pre-holiday existences. I definitely think I'll re-read this book in the future.

  • Edward
    2019-01-27 17:21

    Introduction, by Brenda Bowen--The Enchanted AprilChapter One of 'Enchanted August', by Brenda Bowen

  • Candi
    2019-02-03 20:22

    This was a delightful little story! Four women, previously unknown to one another, leave a dreary winter in England behind to take a one month April holiday in a small, charming Italian castle after responding to an advertisement in a newspaper. The descriptions of the landscape are very lush and made me wish that I could make such an escape myself after a seemingly never-ending winter. “By the end of the week the fig-trees were giving shade, the plum-blossom was out among the olives, the modest weigelias appeared in their fresh pink clothes, and on the rocks sprawled masses of thick-leaved, star-shaped flowers, some vivid purple and some a clear, pale lemon.”The novel is also sprinkled with humor throughout as the four very different personalities either bluntly clash with one another or surreptitiously try to avoid one or another of the group. I often found myself smiling at some of their little antics and remarks. Each woman begins with her own struggle, discontent, and preconceived notions of what is expected of her as a female member of society.Lotty Wilkins, who is the first to embrace the charms of Italy and is the quintessential transformed spirit in the novel, begins her journey as one who really has very little confidence in herself. “Her clothes, infested by thrift, made her practically invisible; her face was non-arresting; her conversation was reluctant; she was shy.”Rose Arbuthnot, the religious and charitable but lonely wife, is initially described: “Steadfast as the points of the compass to Mrs. Arbuthnot were the great four facts of life: God, Husband, Home, Duty… Frederick had been the kind of husband whose wife betakes herself early to the feet of God. From him to them had been a short though painful step.”Mrs. Fisher, the elderly widow, who leaves England for Italy with the notion that “Hardly anything was really worth while, except the past… She had not come away from these friends (in London), these conversable ripe friends, in order to spend her time in Italy chatting with three persons of another generation and defective experience; she had come away merely to avoid the treacheries of a London April.”And finally, the beautiful, unattached Lady Caroline, never without a suitor to her own exasperation, believes “Worse than jokes in the morning did she hate the idea of husbands.” She wishes to be left completely alone and yet she seems to attract everyone to her; and her coldness and biting remarks towards others is unnoticed due to her overwhelming beauty. “People were exactly like flies. She wished there were nets for keeping them off too. She hit at them with words and frowns, and like the fly they slipped between her blows and were untouched.”Ultimately, no one is immune to the enchantments of Italy and companionship and each undergo their own individual transformations. They learn the value of friendship and that “Beauty made you love, and love made you beautiful.”Perhaps one would say that this book was too neat and tidy, maybe a bit unrealistic. However, I felt it was a breath of fresh air and a great reminder that a little respite and new acquaintances can help immensely to renew a dampened spirit.

  • Diane
    2019-01-26 23:24

    "To those who appreciate wistaria and sunshine..."This is the second Elizabeth von Arnim book I've read recently, and I've enjoyed them so much I plan on reading more of her novels. Enchanted April is the story of four unhappy Englishwomen who impulsively rent a castle in Italy in April, and the experience changes them for the better. One finds peace, another vitality, and several find love. I was especially fond of the character Lotty Wilkins, the one who was convinced that a month in Italy would invigorate them all. This novel is so delightful that I was ready to book a flight to Italy for next spring.Some favorite passages:"Mr. Wilkins, a solicitor, encouraged thrift, except that branch of it which got into his food. He did not call that thrift, he called it bad housekeeping."[On Mrs. Wilkins first morning in Italy.] "She lay with her arms clasped round her head thinking how happy she was, her lips curved upwards in a delighted smile. In bed by herself: adorable condition. She had not been in bed without Mellersh once now for five whole years; and the cool roominess of it, the freedom of one's movements, the sense of recklessness, of audacity, in giving the blankets a pull if one wanted to, or twitching the pillows more comfortable! It was like the discovery of an entirely new joy.""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. No wonder men stayed young longer.""Lady Caroline began to be afraid these two were originals. If so, she would be bored. Nothing bored her so much as people who insisted on being original, who came and buttonholed her and kept her waiting while they were being original." Note: There is also a lovely movie version of the book featuring Miranda Richardson, Joan Plowright, Polly Walker and Josie Lawrence.

  • Laura
    2019-02-01 21:16

    John Steinbeck said, at the beginning of his book, Travels with Charley: In Search of America, that "...we do not take a trip; a trip takes us." I was reminded of that quote so many times while escaping to Italy in this wonderful book. I don't think the power of a trip such as the one these four women took can be overestimated. We see in the novel how their lives were all transformed as a result. It's a pleasant story, but I think as women, as the primary (in most cases) caretakers of our homes and families, we all owe it to ourselves (and to our families) to take a trip like this, to go away by ourselves and rediscover ourselves. I can think of no human being who would not benefit from such an experience. I took off a couple of months after my only child went away to college, just escaped to the mountains for a couple of weeks. I needed to do it. That trip changed me, and I've wanted a repeat ever since (only this time, I'd like to take a month, as these women did!) This novel hit all of my happy places. I was dying to know how it ended, while at the same time never wanting it to end, not wanting to leave the gorgeous castle in Italy in the spring. There were a few little love stories that I wasn't expecting. The characters, particularly the four women, became real, and I grew to like them all. Her prose put me right there, feeling the sun on my face, and smelling the flowers all around me, even watching the moon at night, as the lights came on down in the village below. This was a fantastic escape read, and I highly recommend it. I'm adding it to my favorites shelf. ETA: I feel the audio narration really enhanced this book. I couldn't have asked for a better performance by Eleanor Bron.

  • Grace Tjan
    2019-01-20 20:20

    What I learned from this book (in no particular order):1. Spring in Hampstead is depressing. Italian trains are always late.2. Eating macaroni with a knife, even though it is of the wormy, stringy variety, is an insult to a proper Italian cook.3. Other people’s chills are always the fruit of folly, and the worst thing that could happen is that if they are handed on to you, who had done nothing at all to deserve them.4. Being too sexy for your own good is hazardous to your mental health.5. Clothes that are infested with thrift make you practically invisible.6. It is difficult to be improper without men around.7. There were in history numerous kings who had had mistresses and there were still more numerous mistresses who had had kings.8. You shall only write books that God would read. Books about long-dead mistresses are NOT something that HE would read.9. There are miserable sorts of goodness and happy sorts --- the sort you’ll have at a flower-bedecked medieval Italian castle by the sea, for instance, is the happy sort.10. A flower-bedecked Italian castle by the sea can repair the most broken of marriages and induce you to fall in love with a random person.BUT SERIOUSLY, I liked this book until the men show up at the villa; I can appreciate how Mrs. Wilkins and Mrs. Arbuthnot have been changed by their time there, but the men just basically show up at the end of the book and suddenly (cue swelling music) IT’S AMORE. Everything is suddenly hunky-dory again between the estranged married couples, although Mr. Wilkins is still steeped in his miserly, ambulance-chasing mentality, and Mr. Arbuthnot originally came not to see his wife, but to make a grab, both personally and professionally, at Lady Caroline Dester the Flapper heiress. And Mrs. Fisher’s icy crotchetiness suddenly melts for, of all people, Mellersh Wilkins, a man who still primarily thinks of her as a walking cash cow for his solicitor firm. Briggs, the villa’s owner and perhaps the most sympathetic of the men, is incredibly fickle. Having come for Rose Arbuthnot, whom he thought to be a widow, he immediately transfers his affections to Lady Caroline once he laid eyes on her supernatural prettiness. And, despite protesting against the unwanted attention from men barely a dozen pages ago, including Briggs, the author tells us, conveniently, that it’s amore for them too.I guess I just have difficulties with accepting the villa as a sort of deus ex machina for all the characters; or perhaps I was just having a bad day when I finished the book. Or perhaps I’m secretly a repressed housewife who desperately needs a life-restoring, love-enhancing holiday at an impossibly beautiful Italian villa on the Amalfi Coast. Yeah, that’s it. Now I’m going to pester hubby about blowing out our hard-earned nest egg on some charmingly dilapidated pile somewhere sunny in Italy.

  • Bruce
    2019-01-27 22:24

    Elizabeth Von Arnim (1866-1941) was born of English parents in Australia but soon returned to England where she grew up. She subsequently lived a somewhat peripatetic existence in Europe, finally settling in the US. This is a beautifully written novel. Von Arnim’s descriptions are evocative, her sense of pace perceptive and compelling. Her four main characters are distinct and individuated, although they are perhaps unrealistically stereotypical and a bit two-dimensional, as if created to prove a point or illustrate a type. The setting is idealized and unrealistic, unless one views it not objectively but either through the subjective judgments of the protagonists or as a fable. The author’s sense of humor is as acute as it is gentle, and the interactions among the ladies are often quietly hilarious. The main setting is floral, a place almost out of time itself, an Eden in which the characters can shed their usual lives and allow themselves to be remade.The story is about four unhappy English ladies, not even acquaintances at the onset, who rent an Italian castle for the month of April, each desiring to take a break from her present unsatisfying circumstances. The beauty of the location triggers profound changes in perspective in one after another of the heroines, gradually drawing other people into the healing ambiance of the experience.All of this does require the willing suspension of disbelief, not necessarily a bad thing. The trajectory of each of the women is from a situation of sadness and frustration to a state of fulfillment and happiness. At a deeper level it is a journey from sad self-absorption out of herself into a broader and more loving and accepting view of the world around them and especially of those with whom they usually live. If much of this comes across as contrived, that is beside the point. The changes that occur happen because of a radical change of perspective, an opening to possibility. The lovely setting in Portofino acts simply as a catalyst, and a beautiful one.This is a book that might be easy to dismiss as overly simple, cloyingly sentimental, and superficial. That would, in my opinion, be a mistake. There are several different levels to this narrative, and to explore and ponder them will reward the thoughtful reader. This is a charming little book, one very hard to resist. Don’t even try, and then it will be able to speak to you.

  • Fiona MacDonald
    2019-02-02 00:18

    Charming, beautiful and wonderfully witty! This was a complete hidden gem, but I loved it, loved the writing which was lyrical, loved the characters, who were all drawn to minuscule detail and mostly loved the exquisite descriptions of Italy and the flowering and fragrance of early April

  • HBalikov
    2019-02-19 17:03

    The Enchanted April is a comedy in the true tradition of Shakespeare. Though written as a novel, it has been easily converted to a play and a film. It is a book about time and place and the effects that those things have on our thoughts and deeds. As the book begins we find ourselves in London on a cold and wet winter day post-World War One. We quickly meet Mrs. Wilkins and Mrs. Arbuthnot who both are members of a “women’s club” that serves as a refuge when they are out and about fulfilling their duties and chores. Both women chance to see an advertisement in The Times concerning an Italian villa (castle) that could be rented for the month of April. Each finds herself unusually drawn to the possibility, and with Mrs. Wilkins' initiative, they form a friendship and write for further particulars. We are taken through the thoughts of both women leading up to the trip and during the month at San Salvatore.The author offers us a study of character and mores at a time in England when the Church of England was coping with the stirrings of gender emancipation and women were considering how they might have a life beyond “God, Husband, Home and Duty.” The other two women are a study in contrasts. The young and beautiful one (Lady Caroline), for whom everything has been easy and there has been no need to consider others. And, the quite old one (Mrs. Fisher), for whom the past and her encounters with the intellectual and the famous dominate any conversation in which she participates. None of the women are friends before agreeing to take together this April retreat to an Italian villa. We get to see them evolve in Italy both through their conversations and their innermost thoughts.There is both advantage and disadvantage in viewing this from about 100 years distant. It gives one the perspective of where things would be going socially and culturally, but it also tends to temper the immediacy of those issues of gender, class and religion that were so important then. This is much the same reaction that I have to reading G.B. Shaw. I thoroughly enjoyed my re-immersion in this story. It managed to do its magic on me very much like the villa was able to work its enchantment on these characters. (This book has been republished many times since its initial date in 1922. I acquired the illustrated Kindle edition. It has the most inviting drawing on the cover and the other illustrations were helpful in showing the regional charm that served as a background to the story.)

  • Jesse
    2019-01-21 20:14

    April is apparently the cruelest month, but my nomination would probably be those four weeks or so spanning the middle of October on up to Thanksgiving; I can't speak for anyone else, but for anybody on an academic calendar it's an interminably long period with not even a single three day weekend for some kind of brief respite, and Thanksgiving break is reached more or less in a state of exhaustion. It was during this period that I realized that if I couldn't actually take a vacation I was going to take a literary one, and I took this off the shelf, which I had been saving for just such an occasion. And it pretty much did the trick. It's a lovely novel, and I took a long, leisurely amount of time to read it, picking it up on occasions when I just couldn't bring myself to read anything else (even though there was always so much more that should and needed to have been read) or during bouts of insomnia caused by incessant thinking over what I still needed to get done. There's not much I feel like I can say about this novel, not that I feel much needs to be said; it's more or less how four British women, similar only in a vague but profound sense of dissatisfaction with their lives, on a whim rent a villa on the Italian coast for the titular month. But what seems like an indulgent lark quickly blossoms into four weeks of rapturous transformation for all four women (as well as several individuals they are close to). Once the women arrive in Italy the narrative is sustained through the type of problems such as "oh, how is Mrs. X going to respond to Mrs. Y doing Z?", but that's a great part of its appeal—it's not a matter of if a character is going to undergo positive mental, emotional and even physical transformation, but a matter of how much. Really, Von Arnim manages to do a whole lot with material that many other writers would have a hard time using to sustain a short story (though Von Arnim doesn't realize that a little landscape description goes a long way). In a curious coincidence, in 1922 Eliot proclaimed April "the cruellest month," while the very same year Von Arnim declared it enchanted. Though the traditional literary canon would disagree, I have to side with Von Arnim on this one. "Rose clasped her hands tight round her knees. How passionately she longed to be important to somebody again—not important on platforms, not important as an asset in an organisation, but privately important, just to one other person, quite privately, nobody else to know or notice. It didn't seem much to ask in a world so crowded with people, just to have one of them, only one out of all the millions, to oneself. Somebody who needed on, who thought of one, who was eager to come to one—oh, oh how dreadfully one wanted to be precious!"

  • Duane
    2019-01-19 16:17

    One of the real pleasures of reading is discovering those hidden gems, those novels that I had never heard of, that turn out to be perfectly enjoyable. The Enchanted April is somewhat of a fairytale, a fantasy that could happen, probably has happened somewhere before. It's the story of four English women, Londoners, who are unhappy with their personal lives, especially with the romantic side. They see an advertisement in a London paper for the April rental of a castle in an Italian fishing village and the magic begins. Mrs. Wilkins (Lotty), Mrs. Arbuthnot (Rose), Mrs. Fisher, and Lady Caroline Dester (Scrap), are the four vacationers, not friends, just acquaintances, each with their personal reasons for wanting to get away, to reflect on the past and renew their outlook for the future. Elizabeth von Arnim so beautifully describes the setting and the characters that you feel part of the story. The characters are wonderful, I especially liked Lotty and Rose, and the descriptions of the flowers and gardens surrounding the castle made the setting seem capable of changing the lives of the characters. Change them it did, the magic happens and how it affected each one of them is what makes the story so enjoyable.

  • Chris
    2019-02-05 21:10

    I find Enchanted April to be an extremely difficult book to review. The book is too close to my heart. Not in the same way that Possession or The Lord of the Rings are, but in some secret hidden corner.Enchanted April is about four women who rediscover life. It is about four women who rediscover the meaning of friendship. It's about four women who learn to leave the prejudices behind. It is about the discovery and rediscovery of love. Above all, it is about Italy.The book is one those perfect books, nothing seems to happen but everything happens. The book is part fairy tale, part reality, and part oh so British magical Italy. It is old-fashioned, but current. It is a perfection of contradictions. It is a love sonnect in prose that smells of flowers and feels of sun and warm grass. Good food and wine are on offer.And everyone, regardless of age, size, or sex, is beautiful.

  • Cristina
    2019-01-29 17:24

    Per il mio personalissimo gusto questo libro è tollerabile solo perché è stato scritto nel 1922. Mi ha irritato dall'inizio alla sdolcinatissima fine, che mi è giunta ancora più intollerabile dopo che per un attimo avevo sperato (contro ogni speranza) che l'autrice avesse un colpo di coda e ci desse un bel sano divorzio invece di questo diabeticizzante finale in cui amore, amicizia e cuoricini e arcobaleni ci sommergono.Lo salva, parzialmente, lo stile delizioso di scrittura, davvero bello, e la meravigliosa descrizione del giardino, ma per il resto le ha tutte: sentimentalismo zuccheroso, quattro protagoniste antipatiche (se mi diceva ancora una volta quanto fosse bella e adorabile Lady Caroline Dester mi mettevo a urlare), mariti e ammiratori che si dovrebbero badilare e invece si accolgono a braccia aperte, un bel po' di stereotipi di stampo inglese sugli italiani (siamo così pittoreschi!).Oh, lo so di essere in minoranza, e giuro che i lati positivi li vedo, solo che a me mettono voglia solo di leggermi una di quelle cretinate in cui due manco si stringono la mano e già trombano come ricci. Quasi quasi stasera mi guardo Grey's Anathomy, che in quanto a trombare come ricci non scherzano nemmeno loro.

  • Marialyce
    2019-01-27 18:17

    Loved, loved, loved it.This was a perfect peaceful book. There were no major issues nor were we trying to solve the problems of the planet. This was just a book where the important message was to be selfish, to allow yourself to get back to the things that are always the most important, that of your love for each other. Yes, it does sound oh so maudlin, but this sweet, kind book is just what I needed. It made me say ah at the end (and really mean it!)Our story follows four woman thrown together in the rental of a property in Italy. Their lives are all awry and going in various directions that was not good for them nor their psyches. So, this house is rented first by one and then the next until a compliment of four ladies, who did not know each other from a hole in the wall, move in together to spend their quiet alone time. They, particularly two of them, do not want to be disturbed but the charm of the house and that of the other two ladies breaks down their barriers and they become loving people willing to take on all that that word connotes. Enter this home in Italy and life, and of course things Italian like food and flowers and oh yes, the wine, start to change the attitudes and the love life of these women (well really the love life of only three of them!) It makes the ladies realize that their lives need that four letter word and how they do find it is the glory of the novel. All of them change in the way in which they view themselves and perhaps more importantly in the way they view others. It is a simple yet elegant story that was gentle as a Spring breeze on an April day.

  • Jennifer (aka EM)
    2019-02-04 21:03

    This book is absolutely delightful. Charming, funny -- a perfect combo of dry British humour with something close to farce in the tradition ofThree Men In A Boat -- and light without being silly or frivolous. Written in 1922, from the author's base in Portofino, Italy, in which it is set, the novel brings together four English women, previously unknown to each other, for a get-away-from-it-all vacation in a rented medieval castle (think of a 1920s airbnb).What they are getting away from informs both their characters and their character arcs -- and lends the novel its gravitas. From lives variously dull, stagnant, unhappy, and grief-ridden, their transformation is brought about by the gorgeous setting, lovingly and beautifully described by von Arnim, and by, in fact, each other. This is a perfect summer read, perhaps especially summer of 2017. It was escapist then, in post-WWI Europe, as it is now, but who is to quibble with a little escapism? I found this truly enchanting book's verdant nature, blossoming friendships, and reinvigorated love as restorative for me as they were for its characters.(Audiobook, with excellent reading by Nadia May.)

  • Margitte
    2019-01-22 23:15

    Loved this book, first published in 1922 and re-published in 2007 by the New York Review Of Books.San Salvatore in Italy, as well as all the characters in the book, stole my heart.Will write a review later.

  • Kathleen
    2019-01-19 18:21

    "'It’s this place,’ she said, nodding at him. ‘It makes one understand. You’ve no idea what you’ll understand before you’ve done here.’”This story had a definite feminine feel. I’m not talking about the fact that it’s about four women on holiday together, or that it is focused on relationships, or even that flowers play a prominent role. What felt feminine to me--because it reminded me of strong women I’ve known--was the longing wrapped in sarcasm, the acceptance of reality that exists alongside a belief in magic.The pace was s-l-o-w. But that added to the luxurious, holiday feel of it. Take a deep breath. Smell the acacias. Settle in and enjoy.The best part was Elizabeth von Arnim’s unique voice. She had a way of switching things up mid-sentence that I love. And while she had me chuckling at the joke, I was learning much about her characters.“Mrs. Wilkins’s clothes were what her husband, urging her to save, called modest and becoming and her acquaintance to each other, when they spoke of her at all, which was seldom for she was very negligible, called a perfect sight.”I’m going to read more von Arnim. "All the Dogs of My Life" will probably always be my favorite, but reading her words is such a pleasure, I don’t want to miss any of them.

  • Helle
    2019-02-13 00:04

    There is something of enchantment in this story, not surprisingly given the title. It is the story of how four English women take a break from their lives, from rain-sodden London and from the Compass points of God, Husband, Home and Duty during the month of April to seek the idylls of an Italian castle. One of them, Mrs. Wilkins, is tempted by an ad in the newspaper that promises sunshine and wistaria – and who wouldn’t be tempted by such a dream? – and asks another woman, Mrs. Arbuthnot, to accompany her. She hardly knows the woman but intuitively knows she needs a bit of enchantment in her life. So this is what she tells her:I'm sure it's wrong to go on being good for too long, till one gets miserable. And I can see you've been good for years and years, because you look so unhappy.To lower the rent further, the two women place another ad, and two more women are brought on board, Lady Caroline and Mrs. Fisher. The four women couldn’t be more different, which is of course part of the point.Once they reach the castle, the place wields its own kind of magic. And there they were, arrived; and it was San Salvatore; and their suit-cases were waiting for them; and they had not been murdered. Mrs. Wilkins is immediately transformed. Her cares are suddenly washed away, for who can worry about the details of life when you suddenly find yourself in Heaven? For the others it is a slower process, and for all four of them there are small challenges, even in Heaven. Some of these are quite delightful, as when two of them arrive early to ensure the first pick of the rooms (Heaven having not yet begun to do its work), but others I felt detracted a bit from the magic, notably (view spoiler)[when the husbands arrived. I wish they had stayed away so that the women had kept their independence. (hide spoiler)]Von Arnim is acerbic and witty, though also thoughtful and romantic when she describes the beauty of the castle, the flowers, the moonlight. It is almost unbelievable that the novel was written in 1922, and though it stretches one’s incredulity when it comes to how drastic a transformation is possible within the span of only a month, especially (view spoiler)[ that of the husbands’ (hide spoiler)], it is a comic fantasy that wants to delight and not be taken at face value.Her caustic wit places her somewhere between Austen and Pym, but her narration at times reminded me of her cousin, Katherine Mansfield, and – during some particularly lovely stream-of-consciousness passages – of Woolf. Quite a delectable mix of ingredients, which made this a perfect April read, except for the fact that I now long for sunshine and wistaria, which by the look of things are still some way off.

  • Cphe
    2019-01-26 18:14

    This was a delightful story, simply delightful. Filled with warmth and generosity of spirit the pages just flew by.Loved the characters, especially the female characters. The wonderfully prickly Miss Fisher, the unsettled Lady Caroline, exuberant Lotty and the shy and withdrawn Rose. Each woman comes into their own when they share a villa in the beautiful Italian countryside.There are some pockets of humour interspersed throughout this wonderful story and at one stage I was laughing out loud. The bathroom scene between the very proper Mellesch and Lady Caroline was a hoot.It's been quite a while since I've read such a charming story. Recommend unreservedly.There were a few typos in this edition but it didn't sway from the overall enjoyment.