Elizabeth von Arnim flits from character to character, telling sections of the narrative from different one’s view point. She employs the technique with finesse, making each character a deliciously distinctive individual.
The story begins one rainy day when Lotty Wilkins sees advertisement.
To Those Who Appreciate Wistaria 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.
On impulse, Lotty asks a woman with whom she knows only by sight at chruch to rent the castle with her and split expenses, leaving their husbands behind. Rose Arbuthnot finds the idea of a vacation irresistible even with someone as decidedly peculiar as Lotty.
Unable to afford the rent, the pair seek two more companions. Their advertisement draws a snobbish elderly widow, Mrs. Fisher, who had known Tennyson and Matthew Arnold, and Lady Caroline Dester, 28, fleeing the host of suitors for her face and fortune.
In Italy, one after another, the women come realize their attitudes, rather than their circumstances, have been the root of their misery back home.
The novel bubbles with mirth at the folly of being disappointed by what one lacks instead of enjoying what one has, even if what one has is a not entirely satisfactory husband.
If you cannot enjoy this novel, perhaps you need a month’s holiday in Italy.
Incidentally, there’s an Academy Award nominated video version of The Enchanted April, which unfortunately omits von Arnim’s funniest bits, but is otherwise faithful to the story and spirit of the novel.The Enchanted April by Elizabeth von Arnim 1923 bestseller #3 Project Gutenberg ebook #16389
Photo credit: Wisteria in Bloom 2 by Dubock
© 2013 Linda Gorton Aragoni