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The Enchanted April (New York Review Books…
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The Enchanted April (New York Review Books Classics) (1922 original; edició 2007)

de Elizabeth von Arnim, Cathleen Schine (Introducció)

MembresRessenyesPopularitatValoració mitjanaConverses / Mencions
2,7691235,123 (4.05)1 / 603
Four very diverse women, all seeking revitalization from the dreary February rains of 1920s London, rent the small medieval castle of San Salvatore, nestled high above the bay of Portofino, Italy. Arriving at San Salvatore, they find it awash with the scent of flowers, its olive groves terracing down to the sun-warmed sea. Each has her reasons for desiring escape. Mrs. Wilkins and Mrs. Arbuthnot are glad to leave behind their insipid duties and unresponsive husbands. The elderly Mrs. Fisher wishes only to sit in the sun and replay her youthful memories, and the bewitchingly beautiful Lady Caroline Dester desires to have seclusion from all her adoring suitors. Amid the canopies of fragrant wisteria, in the sweet sunshine and melodious silence, fate has some surprises in store for all of them.… (més)
Membre:Moongardenn
Títol:The Enchanted April (New York Review Books Classics)
Autors:Elizabeth von Arnim
Altres autors:Cathleen Schine (Introducció)
Informació:NYRB Classics (2007), Paperback, 376 pages
Col·leccions:La teva biblioteca, Llegit, però no el tinc
Valoració:
Etiquetes:Cap

Informació de l'obra

Un abril prodigiós de Elizabeth von Arnim (1922)

Afegit fa poc perTaraWestern, Valsh, chloe.ct, biblioteca privada, vulgaris, aidanbyrne, JoeB1934, JFBCore, onebookish
Biblioteques llegadesBarbara Pym, Ernest Hemingway
  1. 110
    Miss Pettigrew Lives for a Day de Winifred Watson (cmbohn)
  2. 70
    An Unsuitable Attachment de Barbara Pym (digifish_books)
    digifish_books: Another fine English novel in which a vacation to Italy brings the complexities of personal relationships to the fore.
  3. 70
    A Room with a view de E. M. Forster (SylviaC)
  4. 60
    Elizabeth and her German Garden de Elizabeth von Arnim (Booksloth)
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A Case of Stendhal’s Syndrome?

Set in the 1920s , The Enchanted April is a story of four English women’s vacation in a castle on the Italian Riviera and the effect the beauty of the castle, the vistas, and more especially its gardens have on them.

One of the women, a Mrs Wilkins is clearly overwhelmed by the beauty of the place and has a spiritual transformation, similar to that of George Harrison when he “found himself” in India in the mid sixties.

So sure is Ms Wilkins that all you need is love, that she telegrams her husband who she previously feared and felt was cold, asking him to join her. Surely he too would feel the love. Mrs Wilkins’ bliss is contagious, so much so that she persuades her friend Mrs Arbuthnot to do the same.

The other members of the group, Lady Caroline Dester and Mrs Fisher who are both “spinsters”, appear less affected, though Lady Caroline becomes more self-aware. She is more able to come to terms with her own beauty, which has so far been a hindrance in her young life. Mrs Fisher, who is considered ancient at 65 and who is still stuck in the Victorian era remains somewhat immune, though she occasionally has feelings she can’t quite work out.

As for the two husbands, von Arnim has little time for the men. Mr Wilkins becomes warmer toward his wife as his feelings for the female sex are rekindled by the beauty of Lady Caroline if not the garden. And Mr Arbuthnott sees that Mrs Arbuthnott has a sex appeal that he has been unaware of for many a year.

Which leave the main character in the book, the garden. As an avid gardner myself, I delighted in the long paragraphs describing in exquisite detail, the different flowers and shrubs, and their placement around the castle, and in some cases around the individual women when they act as shields allowing the individual women to revel in their solitudes.

The writing is crisp and humorous. The class distinctions separate Mrs Fisher and Lady Caroline Dester from the Mrs Wilkins and Mrs Arbuthnot, the former clearly seeing the other women as “below them”. But what the women have in common is that they are not men.

The men in the novel appear as necessary appendages. Accessories. Accessories that are generally found wanting.

I came saw from the book intrigued by the author. I wanted to find out more, and did.

I’m glad that I discovered von Arnim. I thoroughly enjoyed The Enchanted April and rated it a deserving 4. ( )
  kjuliff | Feb 4, 2024 |
Two women who have drifted apart from their husbands answer an advert to spend April in an Italian castle. They recruit a frosty old dame and a beautiful but cold noblewoman to join them, to share the costs. Initially there is some friction and social conflict between the four. However the beauty of the castle and its endless flowers transforms and heals their hearts. ( )
  questbird | Jan 10, 2024 |
Set post WW1, this is one book in that category of books of women travelling, quite often to Italy, to discover themselves and those around them. I am thinking of A Room with a View by EM Forster, Still Life by Sarah Winman or even the film Tea with Mussolini although they are expats.

Mrs Wilkins sees an advert to rent a castle in Italy for the month of April and longs to go. She has a small nest egg she could use but it is really too expensive until she sees Mrs Arbuthnott dreaming over the same advert. Both have reasons to escape, their marriages not working too well, and so agree to rent it. To reduce costs they then advertise for two more women who would like to go, it sleeps eight, and find them. Lady Caroline Dester who wants to escape from her beauty and being stared at and Mrs Fisher who is deemed to be ancient at 65 with a walking stick and stuck in the past.

Italy works its magic, the weather, the flowers and the castle itself and changes happen. First Mrs Wilkins is opened to love and invites her husband out, having gone to escape him, and their relationship is transformed although he does still pinch her earlobe as a form of endearment. And, by the third week Mrs Fisher feels as if she is 'sprouting' again, Mrs Arbuthnott has her husband with her and the romance is re-ignited, even if he had gone out chasing after Lady Dester, and Lady Dester thinks that there might be something in Mr Briggs who owns the castle.

It was the perfect book to read whilst recovering from a bout of COVID, not taxing but warm and transforming. A book of manners and worry all undone by the weather and vistas in San Salvatore.

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 color, were asleep too in the light; and underneath her window, at the bottom of the flower-starred grass slope from which the wall of castle rose up, was a great cypress, cutting through the delicate blues and violets and rose-colors of the mountains and the sea like a great black sword.
p103

The writing is wonderful. I love the way von Arnim compares the now deceased Mr Fisher to macaroni (would we say spaghetti nowadays?).

Mrs. Fisher had never cared for macaroni, especially not this long, worm-shaped variety. She found it difficult to eat - slippery, wriggling off her fork, making her look, she felt, undignified when, having got it as she supposed into her mouth, ends of it yet hung out. Always, too, when she ate it she was reminded of Mr. Fisher. He had during their married life behaved very much like macaroni. He had slipped, he had wriggled, he had made her feel undignified, and when at last she had got him safe, as she thought, there had invariably been little bits of him that still, as it were, hung out.
p123

Von Arnim is a great observer of people and the small things that make them up, how communications can be misread, selfishness or being too selfless (is that selfish?). She describes very well the fact that the house does not have one leader - she who decides what will be eaten and when - but allows the women to find their way in the group. Her description of the effect of female beauty on men is very detailed and her character of Caroline Dester is particularly well-drawn for nowadays. A beautiful young woman who is fed up with being 'ogled' at and 'grabbed' who has come out to Italy to get away from that and to try and 'think'.

A wonderfully enchanting and recuperative read. ( )
  allthegoodbooks | Nov 14, 2023 |
A discrete advertisement in The Times, addressed to "those who appreciate wisteria and sunshine," is the prelude to a revelatory month for four very different women. High above a bay on the Italian Riviera stands the medieval castle San Salvatore. Beckoned to this haven are Mrs. Wilkins, Mrs. Arbuthnot, Mrs. Fisher, and Lady Caroline Dester, each quietly craving a respite. Lulled by the gentle spirit of the Mediterranean, they gradually shed their public skins, discovering a harmony each of them has longed for but none has ever known. First published in 1922, this captivating novel is imbued with the descriptive power and lighthearted irreverence for which Elizabeth von Arnim is renowned

Published in 1922, this book starts with Mrs Wilkins seeing an advert for a castle to rent in Italy posted on the front of the times. Married to a solicitor, with a small nestegg of £90 and looking at the rain outside she wonders if she could ever spend money in this way
After reading the advert in her local club, she spots Mrs Arbuthnot, who goes to the same church as Wilkins but the two women have never talked. Both women are married and both have different reasons to disappear from their husbands – Wilkins because she fears she has become a non-entity and that her husband doesnt even notice she exists. Mrs Arbuthnot because she realises that she and her husband have grown apart – him to concentrate on writing his books, her to work on the things that fill her time as he keeps himself away from the marital home

They agree to take the castle, and search for two other women to share the expenses with.

Lady Caroline, young, beautiful, wanting to be left alone but realises that ultimately whilst very busy her life is essentially empty

If no one an San salvia tore had ever heard of her, if for a whole month she could shed herself, get right away from everything connected with herself, be allowed to forget the clinging and the clogging and al the noise, why, perhaps, she might make something of herself after all. She might think; really clear up her mind; really come to some conclusion


Mrs Fisher, the oldest, stuck in the past where the people of the day can never match the famous people who she knew when a child as they were always more intelligent, interesting, better mannered or more dominant. In turn she has turned into a bitter old woman who thinks everyone goes against her on purpose

The four women arrive at the castle at the beginning of April and the place, surrounded by all the lovely flowers and flora, soon begin to shed their previous selves, some quicker than others. Very quickly Mrs Wilkins (Lottie) decides to invite her husband along. He does turn up, and is stunned at the change he has found in his wife. Because of his job as a solicitor, who needs more women clients, he is solicitous towards all the other women in the house too.

Mrs Arbuthnot (Rose) is more reticent to invite her husband, but finally she does. However, he arrives at the castle, not looking for his wife, but looking for Lady Caroline, with whom he has become infatuated with whilst in London. However, in seeing his wife changed so much for the better, he realises his mistake and returns to the marital house.

Mrs Arbuthnot realises:
Why had she not been attractive sooner? Why the sudden flowering?


He little realises the competition he had from Mr Briggs, the owner of the castle, who has been briefly infatuated with Rose and come to pay a visit. Unfortunately, Rose is almost immediately eclipsed with the arrival of Caroline into the room, which distracts Briggs. Briggs in the mean time has melted the icy heart of Mrs Fisher, who realises she was stuck in the past with the dead and needed live young people around her to bring her out of herself

So ultimately, everyone gets to be where they should be, helped by good weather, good food, a little absence from each other and the benefit of a little solitude. Everyone is so middle classed British, stuck in that weird bit between the wars where people are still feeling the impact of the Great War, but haven’t really lost the Victorian Class system yet
( )
  nordie | Oct 14, 2023 |
A discrete advertisement in The Times, addressed to "those who appreciate wisteria and sunshine," is the prelude to a revelatory month for four very different women. High above a bay on the Italian Riviera stands the medieval castle San Salvatore. Beckoned to this haven are Mrs. Wilkins, Mrs. Arbuthnot, Mrs. Fisher, and Lady Caroline Dester, each quietly craving a respite. Lulled by the gentle spirit of the Mediterranean, they gradually shed their public skins, discovering a harmony each of them has longed for but none has ever known. First published in 1922, this captivating novel is imbued with the descriptive power and lighthearted irreverence for which Elizabeth von Arnim is renowned

Published in 1922, this book starts with Mrs Wilkins seeing an advert for a castle to rent in Italy posted on the front of the times. Married to a solicitor, with a small nestegg of £90 and looking at the rain outside she wonders if she could ever spend money in this way
After reading the advert in her local club, she spots Mrs Arbuthnot, who goes to the same church as Wilkins but the two women have never talked. Both women are married and both have different reasons to disappear from their husbands – Wilkins because she fears she has become a non-entity and that her husband doesnt even notice she exists. Mrs Arbuthnot because she realises that she and her husband have grown apart – him to concentrate on writing his books, her to work on the things that fill her time as he keeps himself away from the marital home

They agree to take the castle, and search for two other women to share the expenses with.

Lady Caroline, young, beautiful, wanting to be left alone but realises that ultimately whilst very busy her life is essentially empty

If no one an San salvia tore had ever heard of her, if for a whole month she could shed herself, get right away from everything connected with herself, be allowed to forget the clinging and the clogging and al the noise, why, perhaps, she might make something of herself after all. She might think; really clear up her mind; really come to some conclusion


Mrs Fisher, the oldest, stuck in the past where the people of the day can never match the famous people who she knew when a child as they were always more intelligent, interesting, better mannered or more dominant. In turn she has turned into a bitter old woman who thinks everyone goes against her on purpose

The four women arrive at the castle at the beginning of April and the place, surrounded by all the lovely flowers and flora, soon begin to shed their previous selves, some quicker than others. Very quickly Mrs Wilkins (Lottie) decides to invite her husband along. He does turn up, and is stunned at the change he has found in his wife. Because of his job as a solicitor, who needs more women clients, he is solicitous towards all the other women in the house too.

Mrs Arbuthnot (Rose) is more reticent to invite her husband, but finally she does. However, he arrives at the castle, not looking for his wife, but looking for Lady Caroline, with whom he has become infatuated with whilst in London. However, in seeing his wife changed so much for the better, he realises his mistake and returns to the marital house.

Mrs Arbuthnot realises:
Why had she not been attractive sooner? Why the sudden flowering?


He little realises the competition he had from Mr Briggs, the owner of the castle, who has been briefly infatuated with Rose and come to pay a visit. Unfortunately, Rose is almost immediately eclipsed with the arrival of Caroline into the room, which distracts Briggs. Briggs in the mean time has melted the icy heart of Mrs Fisher, who realises she was stuck in the past with the dead and needed live young people around her to bring her out of herself

So ultimately, everyone gets to be where they should be, helped by good weather, good food, a little absence from each other and the benefit of a little solitude. Everyone is so middle classed British, stuck in that weird bit between the wars where people are still feeling the impact of the Great War, but haven’t really lost the Victorian Class system yet
( )
  nordie | Oct 14, 2023 |
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Nom de l'autorCàrrecTipus d'autorObra?Estat
Arnim, Elizabeth vonautor primaritotes les edicionsconfirmat
Balacco, LuisaTraductorautor secundarialgunes edicionsconfirmat
de Vere White, TerenceIntroduccióautor secundarialgunes edicionsconfirmat
Desroussilles, François DupuigrenetTraductorautor secundarialgunes edicionsconfirmat
Dormagen, AdelheidTraductorautor secundarialgunes edicionsconfirmat
Dunant, SarahIntroduccióautor secundarialgunes edicionsconfirmat
Garciá Ríos, BeatrizTraductorautor secundarialgunes edicionsconfirmat
Harrison, B. J.Narradorautor secundarialgunes edicionsconfirmat
Howard, Elizabeth JaneIntroduccióautor secundarialgunes edicionsconfirmat
Lewin, AngieAutor de la cobertaautor secundarialgunes edicionsconfirmat
May, NadiaNarradorautor secundarialgunes edicionsconfirmat
McFarlane, DebraIl·lustradorautor secundarialgunes edicionsconfirmat
Prądzyńska, JoannaTraductorautor secundarialgunes edicionsconfirmat
Rutten, KathleenTraductorautor secundarialgunes edicionsconfirmat
Schine, CathleenIntroduccióautor secundarialgunes edicionsconfirmat
Terziani, SabinaTraductorautor secundarialgunes edicionsconfirmat
Vickers, SalleyIntroduccióautor secundarialgunes edicionsconfirmat
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It began in a Woman's Club in London on a February afternoon,—an uncomfortable club, and a miserable afternoon—when Mrs. Wilkins, who had come down from Hampstead to shop and had lunched at her club, took up The Times from the table in the smoking-room, and running her listless eye down the Agony Column saw this: To Those Who Appreciate Wistaria and Sunshine.
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It was just possible that she [Mrs Wilkisn] ought to go straight into the category Hysteria, which was often only the antechamber to Lunacy, but Mrs. Arbuthnot had learned not to hurry people into their final categories, having on more than one occasion discovered with dismay that she had made a mistake; and how difficult it had been to get them out again, and how crushed she had been with the most terrible remorse.
After those early painful attempts to hold him up to the point from which they had hand in hand so splendidly started, attempts in which she herself had got terribly hurt and the Frederick she supposed she had married was mangled out of recognition, she hung him up finally by her bedside as the chief subject of her prayers, and left him, except for those, entirely to God.
Wonderful that at home she should have been so good, so terribly good, and merely felt tormented. Twinges of every sort had there been her portion; aches, hurts, discouragements, and she the whole time being steadily unselfish.
She did not consciously think this, for she was having a violent reaction against beautiful clothes and the slavery they impose on one, her experience being that the instant one had got them they took one in hand and gave one no peace till they had been everywhere and been seen by everybody. You didn't take your clothes to parties; they took you. It was quite a mistake to think that a woman, a really well-dressed woman, wore out her clothes; it was the clothes that wore out the woman - dragging her about at all hours of the day and night.
Worse than jokes in the morning did she hate the idea of husbands. And everybody was always trying to press them on her - all her relations, all her friends, all the evening papers. After all, she could only marry one, anyhow; but you would think from the way everybody talked, and especially those persons who wanted to be husbands, that she could marry at least a dozen.
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This is the main work for The Enchanted April, by Elizabeth von Arnim. Please do not combine with any adaptation (e.g., film adaptation), abridgement, etc.
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Four very diverse women, all seeking revitalization from the dreary February rains of 1920s London, rent the small medieval castle of San Salvatore, nestled high above the bay of Portofino, Italy. Arriving at San Salvatore, they find it awash with the scent of flowers, its olive groves terracing down to the sun-warmed sea. Each has her reasons for desiring escape. Mrs. Wilkins and Mrs. Arbuthnot are glad to leave behind their insipid duties and unresponsive husbands. The elderly Mrs. Fisher wishes only to sit in the sun and replay her youthful memories, and the bewitchingly beautiful Lady Caroline Dester desires to have seclusion from all her adoring suitors. Amid the canopies of fragrant wisteria, in the sweet sunshine and melodious silence, fate has some surprises in store for all of them.

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Edicions: 1590172256, 1590174313

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