The Enchanted April

The Enchanted April

Elizabeth von Arnim Cathleen Schine / Feb 21, 2020

The Enchanted April A discreet advertisement in The Times addressed to those who appreciate wisteria and sunshine is the prelude to a revelatory month for four very different women High above a bay on the Italian Rivie

  • Title: The Enchanted April
  • Author: Elizabeth von Arnim Cathleen Schine
  • ISBN: 9781590172254
  • Page: 469
  • Format: Paperback
  • A discreet advertisement in The Times, addressed to those who appreciate wisteria and sunshine, is the prelude to a revelatory month for four very different women High above a bay on the Italian Riviera stands the medieval castle San Salvatore Beckoned to this haven are Mrs Wilkins, Mrs Arbuthnot, Mrs Fisher, and Lady Caroline Dester, each quietly craving a respite.A discreet advertisement in The Times, addressed to those who appreciate wisteria and sunshine, is the prelude to a revelatory month for four very different women High above a bay on the Italian Riviera stands the medieval castle San Salvatore Beckoned to this haven are Mrs Wilkins, Mrs Arbuthnot, Mrs Fisher, and Lady Caroline Dester, each quietly craving a respite Lulled by the gentle spirit of the Mediterranean, they gradually shed their public skins, discovering a harmony each of them has longed for but none has ever known First published in 1922, this captivating novel is imbued with the descriptive power and lighthearted irreverence for which Elizabeth von Arnim is renowned.

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    About "Elizabeth von Arnim Cathleen Schine"

      • Elizabeth von Arnim Cathleen Schine

        Elizabeth, Countess Russell, was a British novelist and, through marriage, a member of the German nobility, known as Mary Annette Gr fin von Arnim.Born Mary Annette Beauchamp in Sydney, Australia, she was raised in England and in 1891 married Count Henning August von Arnim, a Prussian aristocrat, and the great great great grandson of King Friedrich Wilhelm I of Prussia She had met von Arnim during an Italian tour with her father They married in London but lived in Berlin and eventually moved to the countryside where, in Nassenheide, Pomerania, the von Arnims had their family estate The couple had five children, four daughters and a son The children s tutors at Nassenheide included E M Forster and Hugh Walpole.In 1898 she started her literary career by publishing Elizabeth and Her German Garden, a semi autobiographical novel about a rural idyll published anonymously and, as it turned out to be highly successful, reprinted 21 times within the first year Von Arnim wrote another 20 books, which were all published By the author of Elizabeth and Her German Garden.Count von Arnim died in 1910, and in 1916 Elizabeth married John Francis Stanley Russell, 2nd Earl Russell, Bertrand Russell s elder brother The marriage ended in disaster, with Elizabeth escaping to the United States and the couple finally agreeing, in 1919, to get a divorce She also had an affair with H G Wells.She was a cousin of Katherine Mansfield whose real name was Kathleen Mansfield Beauchamp.Elizabeth von Arnim spent her old age in London, Switzerland, and on the French Riviera When World War II broke out she permanently took up residence in the United States, where she died in 1941, aged 74.


    1. 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 w [...]

    2. 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 [...]

    3. 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 [...]

    4. 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 [...]

    5. “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 hop [...]

    6. “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 [...]

    7. 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 [...]

    8. 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 le [...]

    9. 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 unders [...]

    10. 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 [...]

    11. 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 Obsc [...]

    12. 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.

    13. 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 mode [...]

    14. "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 [...]

    15. 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 [...]

    16. 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. Clot [...]

    17. 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 prov [...]

    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

    19. 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 fulfillin [...]

    20. 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 [...]

    21. 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 villa [...]

    22. 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 bo [...]

    23. 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, [...]

    24. 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 [...]

    25. 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 [...]

    26. 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.

    27. "'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 [...]

    28. 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, [...]

    29. 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. Th [...]

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