Thursday, April 10, 2014

The Enchanted April by Elizabeth von Arnim

To Those who Appreciate Wisteria and Sunshine.
Small mediaeval Italian Castle on the shores of the Mediterranean 
to be Let Furnished for The month of April. Necessary servants remain.
 Z, Box 1000, The Times.

Sounds like a dream, doesn't it? April in Italy. Mrs. Lotty Wilkins and Mrs. Rose Arbuthnot think so, too. They both live in Hampstead, England in the 1920s and both want a change from their humdrum lives. Lotty "was the kind of person who is not noticed at parties. Her clothes, infested by thrift, made her practically invisible; her face was non-arresting; her conversation was reluctant; she was shy." And Rose, with "the face of a patient and disappointed Madonna" has, for years, "been able to be happy only by forgetting happiness." San Salvatore is the cure they both need. So they, along with Lady Caroline Dester and Mrs. Fisher who help share expenses, rent the Italian castle for an entire month. One heavenly month of beauty, freedom and love.
     "All the radiance of April in Italy lay gathered together at her feet...She stared. Such beauty; and she there to see it. Such beauty; and she alive to feel it. Her face was bathed in light. Lovely scents came up to the window and caressed her. A tiny breeze gently lifted her hair. Far out in the bay a cluster of almost motionless fishing boats hovered like a flock of white birds on the tranquil sea. How beautiful, how beautiful. Not to have died before have been allowed to see, breathe, feel this...She stared, her lips parted. Happy? Poor ordinary, everyday word. But what could one say, how could one describe it? It was as though she could hardly stay inside herself, it was as though she were washed through with light."
I love the lyrical quality of von Arnim's writing, and each of her delightful characters, especially Lotty and Lady Caroline (or Scrap, as she calls herself). I've seen the movie version of The Enchanted April many times, but I'd never read the book until now. And I'm glad I did; in fact, I savored every word of it. It's definitely the perfect book for April.

Happy Reading!
(And don't forget to watch the movie, too.) 

"Were you ever, ever in your life so happy?" asked Mrs. Wilkins.
"No," said Mrs. Arbuthnot.


  1. I love this book so much, and I love the movie too -- perfectly cast, I think. This is still my favourite of her books, by far.

    1. It's a book I just wanted to fall into and live know?

  2. I have loved the movie since the first time I saw it (and am going to watch it again this weekend, I think).
    I read the book for the first time last year and I really liked it, the atmosphere is just amazing, isn't it?

    Kind regards,

    1. That's it exactly! There's such a beautiful atmosphere in both the movie and the book, I never want it to end. :)

  3. I need to watch the movie and read the book...but better yet, I think I need to rent a castle in Italy for a month!