The charming, slyly comic novel of romantic longing and transformation that inspired the Oscar-nominated film Four very different women, looking. Editorial Reviews. From Publishers Weekly. Four Englishwomen vacation together at an Italian castle in von Arnim’s novel, a film version of which is now a . The Enchanted April [Elizabeth Von Arnim] on *FREE* shipping on qualifying offers. Four Englishwomen, strangers to each other, rent a villa for a.

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Open Preview See a Problem? Thanks for telling us about the problem. Return to Book Page. The Enchanted April by Elizabeth von Arnim. A recipe for happiness: The 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 pleas A recipe for happiness: 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. Paperbackpages.

The Enchanted April by Elizabeth von Arnim – review

Published July 1st by Waking Lion Press first published To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up. To ask other readers questions about The Enchanted Aprilplease sign up. When was this published? Is the movie, the same title as the book? I found it on Netflix. See all 7 questions about The Enchanted April…. Lists with This Book.

June Dissatisfied 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? Following that, they go to Bali, and take handsome exotic Indonesian men as lovers.

The Enchanted April by Elizabeth von Arnim – review | Books | The Guardian

When they return home, wiser and more enlightened than before, they write w June Dissatisfied 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.

When they return home, wiser and more enlightened than before, they write wise and enlightened books. They don’t go dlizabeth Indonesia? They don’t take lovers or become prayer-tourists? They just take a month-long vacation in an Enchatned castle, and they don’t divorce their respective husbands? Their respective husbands later join them on their vacation? A very delightful one, actually. You should read it. View all enchantfd comments.

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. Wells after he ended his own affair with Von Arnim’s rival Rebecca West. When one of von Arnim’s disastrous marriages ended inshe 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. Von Arnim had the book published inand today it merits inclusion in Erica Bauermeister’s book 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. 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 elizbeth a Mrs Fisher to join them as well, making the pair into a foursome, and, more 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 elizabwth did the ladies in this book, but the novel will not be an all time favorite for me. Arniim, The Enchanted April is a worthwhile read, which I rate 3. View all 27 comments. You can’t best a good old aprkl in warmer climates, but for the four ladies at the heart of Elizabeth von Arnim’s novel there is more to it than that.

The story is both a triumph to the transformative power of travel, e,izabeth charmed with a decorative feel like that of a sun-kissed fairytale. 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 novel there is more to it than that.

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 enchznted 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 more, 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! But not to worry, von Arnim brings the holiday to you in the comfort of your own home. View all 16 comments. 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 ‘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 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 ‘s.

How can this possibly not go south really fast? I saw the movie version of this book when it came out about 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 husbandsand their lives are dreary, and they arrive in Italy and it’s dark and atnim and everyone’s confused and upset, and my guy and I are both thinking, man, this is going to be either bleak or apri, 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 book, especially since it’s a Gutenberg freebie and all.