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Four proper English ladies, who don t 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 Four proper English ladies, who don t 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 fianc e 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 so 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 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 Stand up 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.Though there s a pervading theme of love, it shares time with that of acceptance and not being judgmental There s also a gentle irony in how many times people, even perhaps especially married couples, misunderstand each other, but in the magical setting of San Salvatore it somehow always works out for the best.Buddy reads in April 2015 April 2020 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 muchworldly 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 affair in the movie Dang, I need to go watch it again Also, Mr Briggs terrible nearsightedness 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 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 isto 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 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 isto 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 , 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 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 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,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 I was to have been in Italy right now Flights, accommodation, gallery tickets, all were booked months ago I had even chosen books to take along So much faith in April being exactly how I d planned seems innocent now And holidays have become unimportant they are frills I can easily live without In fact I ve discovered I can live without a lot of things I used to think were essential, visiting friends, for example, going for long walks, browsing in bookshops, eating out Eating at home has ch I was to have been in Italy right now Flights, accommodation, gallery tickets, all were booked months ago I had even chosen books to take along So much faith in April being exactly how I d planned seems innocent now And holidays have become unimportant they are frills I can easily live without In fact I ve discovered I can live without a lot of things I used to think were essential, visiting friends, for example, going for long walks, browsing in bookshops, eating out Eating at home has changed too as we relyandon food deliveries, which never contain quite what was ordered I ve become very good at doing without certain ingredients and using others in their place Instead of the long walks I loved, I walk in the garden now, though it s quite a tiny space Never before have I paid so much attention to every sprouting tendril on the climbing plants, every hint of a bud The simplest things thrill me, such as spotting that the wisteria that was planted three years ago and which had never yet flowered looks like it finally will I can identifybird species than I knew existed in my part of the world, and I ve begun to recognise their calls Instead of feeling imprisoned during this quarantine time, it s as if my life has opened up The garden makes me feel good, it even makes me feel exuberant.One thing that hasn t changed in my life is reading I probably own enough books to see me through many quarantine seasons I didn t own The Enchanted April though, in spite of having wished to read it in the past When a friend reviewed it last week, it struck me as just the book I needed right now so I got it as an ebook The plot of this novel concerns a holiday in Italy in April, and the story features a garden full of beautiful plants including wisteria I enjoyed the book a lot In fact, I enjoyed it so much that I downloaded another book by Elizabeth Von Armin immediately on finishing The second book, Elizabeth and Her German Garden, is a kind of memoir of a garden she owned at one point in her life After reading it, I understood why the garden in The Enchanted April played such a big role And I appreciated the character called Lotty Wilkins eventhan I did initially there s a lot of Elizabeth Von Armin in Lotty It s in her delight in flowers, in her unusual forthrightness, and in her wonderfully exuberant personality I really enjoyed Lotty [ FREE DOWNLOAD ] ♜ The Enchanted April ♶ A recipe for happiness four women, one medieval Italian castle, plenty of wisteria, and solitude as neededThe women at the center of The Enchanted April are alike only in their dissatisfaction with their everyday lives They find each other and the castle of their dreams through a classified ad in a London newspaper one rainy February afternoon The ladies expect a pleasant holiday, but they don t anticipate that the month they spend in Portofino will reintroduce them to their true natures and reacquaint them with joy Now, if the same transformation can be worked on their husbands and lovers, the enchantment will be complete The Enchanted April was a best seller in both England and the United States, where it was a Book of the Month Club selection, and set off a craze for tourism to Portofino More recently, the novel has been the inspiration for a major film and a Broadway play 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 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 learnabout yourself and others.My first Von Armin and it definitely won t be my last Highly recommended 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 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 I m not sure I have enough wonderful adjectives for this little novel In this time of bad news all around the globe, travel restrictions, event cancellations, panicked people buying up hand sanitizer and whatever else will see them through, this turned out to be the perfect novel at the perfect time Through the magic of words, I spent the month of April in a medieval castle on the coast of Italy with four ladies not previously known to each other Each with her own problems and need to get awa I m not sure I have enough wonderful adjectives for this little novel In this time of bad news all around the globe, travel restrictions, event cancellations, panicked people buying up hand sanitizer and whatever else will see them through, this turned out to be the perfect novel at the perfect time Through the magic of words, I spent the month of April in a medieval castle on the coast of Italy with four ladies not previously known to each other Each with her own problems and need to get away for a while, each with her own pre conceived ideas of how life should be lived, each of whom came under the spell of the gardens and magic of San Salvatore This was also a novel for which the phrase comedy of errors surely was invented I laughed my way through each chapter at the dialogue and thoughts of everyone involved, from visitors and husbands and servants, to the ladies themselves A delightful respite for readers who appreciate wistaria and sunshine For those who have never read Elizabeth von Arnim, do yourself a favor and pick up one of her books This is the third one I ve read, and she is a balm to the soul 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 winterBy the end of the week the fig trees were giving shade, the plum blossom was out among the olives, the modest 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 winterBy 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 herselfHer clothes, infested by thrift, made her practically invisible her face was non arresting her conversation was reluctant she was shyRose Arbuthnot, the religious and charitable but lonely wife, is initially describedSteadfast 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 thatHardly 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, believesWorse than jokes in the morning did she hate the idea of husbandsShe 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 beautyPeople 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 thatBeauty 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 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 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