Skip to main content

Review: The Enchanted April, by Elizabeth Von Arnim


Pages: 361

Original date of publication: 1922

My edition: 1993 (Virago)

Why I decided to read: I participated in All Viragos All August

How I acquired my copy: Ebay, May 2010

In The Enchanted April, three Englishwomen—strangers to one another—impulsively decide to rent a medieval house in Italy after seeing an ad in a newspaper addressed to “those who appreciate wistaria and sunshine.” There are Mrs. Wilkins, a housewife wanting a break from the rainy monotony of London; Mrs. Arbuthnot; Lady Caroline Dester, young and fickle; and Mrs. Fisher, older than the rest but also in need of a break.

Elizabeth Von Arnim’s descriptions of Italy, and the castle’s gardens, are superb; you actually feel as though you’re in Italy with the women as they enjoy their holiday. But the women never seem to lave San Salvatore, and so the action of the novel seems a bit stagnant at times; I felt while reading this that the characters were running around in circles. You get lots of descriptions of the gardens around San Salvatore (Von Arnim was an avid gardener), and the food that they eat; it made me want to hop on a plane and go to Italy myself! Reading this book is a little like taking a vacation, too; there’s a very surreal, magical feeling to the book, almost as though you’re walking on air (a weird way to describe a book, but that’s what I felt when reading!). It’s one of those books that are perfect for reading on vacation.

The story started off really well. However, the plot gets lost a little bit towards the middle, as the husbands and potential lovers begin arriving. The characters changed far too much, too soon but ultimately, I really believed in their transformations. It seems as though San Salvatore has an effect on everyone, whether or not they want it to. The author also rushes a little bit at the end to tie things up, sometimes not realistically. But I did love the author’s writing style, and I’m looking forward to tracking down more novels by her.

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

2015 Reading

January
1. The Vanishing Witch, by Karen Maitland
2. Pride and Prejudice, by Jane Austen
3. Texts From Jane Eyre, by Mallory Ortberg
4. Brighton Rock, by Graham Green
5. Brat Farrar, by Josephine Tey
6. Eat, Pray, Love, by Elizabeth Gilbert
7. Anna Karenina, by Leo Tolstoy
8. A Movable Feast, by Ernest Hemingway
9. A Room of One's Own, by Virginia Woolf
10. Other Voices, Other Rooms, by Truman Capote
11. Maggie-Now, by Betty Smith

February
1. Middlemarch, by George Eliot
2. To Kill a Mockingbird, by Harper Lee
3. Nerdy, Shy, and Socially Inappropriate, by Cynthia Lee
4. Music For Chameleons, by Truman Capote
5. Peyton Place, by Grace Metalious
6. Unrequited, by Lisa Phillips
7. Brideshead Revisited, by Evelyn Waugh
8. A Lost Lady, by Willa Cather

March
1. Persuasion, by Jane Austen
2. Love With a Chance of Drowning, by Torre DeRoche
3. One Hundred Years of Solitude, by Gabriel Garcia Marquez
4. Miss Buncle's Book, by DE Stevenson
5. One Hundred Years of Solitude, by Gabriel Garc…

2016 Reading

January:
1. The Jungle, by Upton Sinclair
2. The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, by L. Frank Baum
3. The Awakening, by Kate Chopin
4. Liar: A Memoir, by Rob Roberge

February:
1. The Forsyte Saga, by John Galsworthy
2. Girl in the Woods, by Aspen Matis
3. She Left Me the Gun, by Emma Brockes
4. Because of the Lockwoods, by Dorothy Whipple
5. The Chronology of Water, by Lidia Yuknavitch
6. To Show and to Tell, by Philip Lopate

March:
1. Fierce Attachments, by Vivian Gornick
2. Too Brief a Treat, by Truman Capote
3. On the Move: a Life, by Oliver Sacks
4. The Go-Between, by LP Hartley
5. The Art of Memoir, by Mary Karr
6. Giving Up the Ghost, by Hilary Mantel
7. I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings, by Maya Angelou
8. The Great American Bus Ride, by Irma Kurtz
9. An Unquiet Mind, by Kay Radfield Jamison
10. A Widow's Story, by Joyce Carol Oates
11. So Sad Today, by Melissa Broder
12. The Liar's Club, by Mary Karr
13. An American Childhood, by Annie Dillard
14. So Sad Today, by Melissa Broder

Review: Forever Amber, by Kathleen Winsor

Pages: 972Originally published: 1944My edition: 2000 (Chicago Review Press)How I acquired my copy: Amazon.com, 2004

Forever Amber takes place in the 1660s, immediately follwing Charles II's ("the Merry Monarch") return of the Stuarts to the English throne. The book features Amber St. Claire, a young woman who starts out as a sixteen-year-old country girl, naieve to the workings of the world. She immediately meets Bruce Carlton, a dashing young Cavalier, with whom she has a passionate love affair in choppy intervals throughout the book. They have two children together, but Bruce won't marry her for the reason he tells his friend Lord Almsbury: that Amber just isn't the kind of woman one marries.

Upon following Bruce to London, he goes to Virginia, leaving her to fend for herself. What follows is a series of affairs and four marriages, with Bruce coming back from America now and then. Amber's marriages are imprudent: her first husband is a gambler, her second is…