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Elizabeth and Her German Garden (Virago Modern Classics)
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Elizabeth and Her German Garden (Virago Modern Classics)

3.87 of 5 stars 3.87  ·  rating details  ·  1,132 ratings  ·  171 reviews
Elizabeth and Her German Garden was the first book published by author Elizabeth von Arnim. Originally published in 1898, the semi-autobiographical novel written about a rural idyll became a highly successful book which was subsequently reprinted twenty-one times within its first year. This witty and sarcastic novel has kept the attention of readers for over a century, and ...more
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Published (first published 1898)
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Elizabeth and her German Garden is a semi-autobiographical book written in 1898 by Elizabeth von Armin (author of The Enchanted April) about her life and garden in the area of Nassenheide, Pomerania, where the family had their estate (her husband was minor nobility).


Pomerania is an area in the northeast part of Germany and northwest part of Poland, on the south shores of the Baltic Sea. And just because I like this picture, it's also the home of Malbork Castle, the largest castle in the world:

Has there ever been an author/protagonist that you loved...but that you weren't sure others would that you felt compelled to defend her...before anyone else had even said anything?...

For me, this is one of those books! I adore Elizabeth, both the author and the protagonist. However, I do get the sense that, being privileged, being sheltered, and being solitary, besides, she wasn't always aware of how she sounded. It's not me judging her, mind you. It's those awful people...that I made
Elizabeth is the young wife of a minor Prussian nobleman whose estate in Northern Germany near the Baltic is the setting for the garden she is planning. Elizabeth is at her best and happiest in spring and summer, nominally overseeing the renovation of the her husband’s house, but in truth, reveling in long indolent days in the utter solitude of her garden--reading, dreaming, delighting in each new glory of the unfolding spring. She fills the house with lilacs and rejoices in fields of daisies an ...more
Where I got the book: purchased on Kindle.

"I do sincerely trust that the benediction that is always awaiting me in my garden may by degrees be more deserved, and that I may grow in grace, and patience, and cheerfulness, just like the happy flowers I so much love."

This little gem of a book, the first novel by Elizabeth Von Arnim I had read, both delighted and intrigued me. It is about a woman called Elizabeth who has moved, with her husband and children, to their country estate in a remote part o
A lovely novel about an English noblewoman who lives in a house in Germany with a beautiful garden. Elizabeth dislikes her husband -- who she calls the Man of Wrath -- and she keeps a wicked and humorous commentary in her diary entries. She prefers to spend as much of her day as possible outdoors in the garden, even on the coldest days of winter, and gets labeled as eccentric by her neighbors.

The book has so many marvelous quotes that I would have made countless notes in the margins if I hadn't
Fictional autobiography would be the proper way to describe this book. Elizabeth is snarky and opinionated but in such an adorable way that you can't help but like her. All she wants to do is take care of her large garden and her three young children and be left alone. She tolerates her husband and refers to him as the "Man of Wrath". He "talks the talk" but Elizabeth doesn't let him "walk the walk". Her oldest baby girl is five, born in April and is appropriately called "The April Baby". The fo ...more
Oh, Elizabeth. Words cannot express the solidarity I feel with you! I need to get my own copy of this. Because this is a book I want to always have nearby, so I can read over its lovely passages, nodding my head because she understood. Or read over so I can laugh, because there are so many parts of this book so humorously told one can't help but at least snicker a little.
I wish I could write more about this wonderful book but I've spent the afternoon being social and am so beaten down I'm havin
Afton Nelson
A charming memoir of young mother and wife Elizabeth Von Armin. She's content with herself, her family, her books and her garden and I could relate. Lots of highlight-worthy quotes if only I'd had my own copy and not the library's.

A favorite on New Year's resolutions: "And I find my resolutions carry me very nicely into the spring. I revise them at the end of each month, and strike out the unnecessary ones. By the end of April they have been so severely revised that there are none left."

On taki
This was a beautifully written book that was ever so appropriate for me to read since Spring is here. Elizabeth through her garden gives us a look inside not only its environs, but also a look into her life as the wife of a German Count. The book's words bring the reader a sense of peace and tranquility so well as Elizabeth finds and makes us remember the beauty of nature to be found right outside our doors.

Written as a diary of sorts, Mrs von Arnim, an author I must be read of, lets us step int
I initially thought this author's writing would be a little too flowery for me, but not a bit of it. This is the second book of hers that I've read and I love her writing style. Yes, in this one, as would be expected, it's heavily descriptive of her beautiful garden, but "heavily" is surely the wrong word, because there is such a lightness of touch, and all interspersed with the most witty observations of characters and people generally. Elizabeth von Arnim is a real find for me, and I'll defini ...more
Although this book is a short novel, it is semi-autobiographical. I read the book for a book discussion group led by Rob, librarian extraordinaire. He had some wonderful background information on Germany just before and during the time in which the book was set. I had never heard of this book, but it apparently was a bestseller in the early twentieth century. Rob also told us a bit about the author, who was an altogether interesting person. Although I was not familiar with this book, I had heard ...more
Jenna Anderson
The Diary of an Introverted Woman

(I read the free, Kindle classic offered via Amazon. Unfortunately at the time of my review, that version was not an option on Goodreads.)

If you enjoyed The Enchanted April due to its lovely setting and reflective thoughts of the characters, then you will also enjoy Elizabeth and Her German Garden.

What a wonderful story. We follow the main character during her time spent, mostly alone, in her garden. It's on a hill and far away from town and any social responsibi
I had never heard of Elizabeth Von Arnim before. Just when you think you’re starting to get a hold of a certain period of literature, some gem like this pops up and send you reeling down some new pathway of literary wonder.

This is a relatively short story, written in a diary format that centers on the reflection of a woman in relation to life, family, and often using her garden as a foil for her religious sentiments. You learn a lot about the position of women in German society in the late 1800’
Mi aspettavo decisamente qualcosa di diverso, qualcosa, tipo alla Sackerville – West, una giardiniera un po' esperta, che parla di piante con cognizione di causa e con affetto qui c'è una giardiniera in potenza, che con molto affetto, va detto, parla di quanto è bello il suo giardino, quanto era brutto prima, che ci fa partecipi dei suoi (maldestri) tentativi di rimetterlo in sesto, che ogni piè sospinto si lamenta di quanto siano sciocche le signore tedesche che frequenta, del resto sono 1. bio ...more
What a lovely book! I so appreciate period nonfiction that is sly and a little snarky; it helps make the people of the age seem more human, and likely ancestors for modern people. This really delivers: Elizabeth refers to her husband as "The Man of Wrath" throughout the book; houseguests who overstay their welcome are subtly edged out the door with offhanded remarks about ghosts and/or visits to the mosquito-infested Baltic Sea. Elizabeth is certainly a product of her environment, that being the ...more
Nike Sulway
Apr 17, 2013 Nike Sulway rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Readers who like gardening and Austen novels, but like a bit of lemon in their tea
Recommended to Nike by: Lauren Groff
Elizabeth von Antrim published this wry, hilarious memoir of her days gardening in Germany about a century ago. The prose is of its time in many ways, as are the politics of class and gender, but Elizabeth's sense of humour, her self-deprecating, honest and clear-eyed reflections on herself, her children, her husband (the Man of Wrath) and her gardeners rendered me almost speechless with laughter.

I became one of those annoying readers who kept interrupting my long-suffering partner's silent read
2.5* I've only read a couple books now about gardeners, and it's been a revelation. I thought they would be gentle souls, overflowing with the peaceful and patient influence of nature - well! overflowing alright! With vitriol toward mankind - if Elizabeth and Beverly Nichols are the norm, anyway. I don't know if I liked or disliked her - but I enjoyed her naked honesty - this must have been refreshing at the time this book was published. She's shallow and speaks with the prejudice of privilege, ...more
I stumbled upon this while looking for a downloadable audio to listen to while working in my own garden, and it was perfect for an afternoon spent painting fence board, and tending to plants. There's a slight resemblance to a Jane Austen novel in the sly observations and languid lifestyle depicted. I didn't know quite what to make of some of the opinions offered, but shrugged it off as representative of the times, as the first publication was in 1898. A lovely book for a summer day.
Apr 03, 2012 Bea rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Anyone who loves flowers or comedies of manners that are light on plot
Recommended to Bea by: Victorians!
A delightful short read about a happy woman, for a change of pace, and her love of the outdoors. I felt lucky to have come across this book in spring when my own heart is stirring to the new blossoms everywhere.
Susan Branch
Elizabeth von Arnim's first book published in 1899 and still, perfection for today. Smart, witty, she calls her husband "Man of Wrath." You will love this book.
Another splendid and poetica novel by Elizabeth von Arnim.
Sam Schulman
High society in the Third Reich reminds me of this book, that all should read. Elizabeth was an Englishwoman, really a New Zealand girl (a cousin of Kathryn Mansfield) who married a Prussian Junker and wrote this extremely droll, highly ironic book about how completely mad the German upper class really was and has always been. Everything she writes is beautiful - and her cousin Kathryn Mansfield shared her skill at delineating the oddity of German bourgeois manners by exact translation. Mansfiel ...more
Written in 1898 this book seemed surprisingly modern to me. I enjoy gardening and growing flowers and so appreciated the main character and narrator Elizabeth’s enthusiasm for her garden, her amateurish attempts at growing things, making mistakes and learning as she went. She enjoyed her garden year round - anticipating and planning during the winter months with seed/plant catalogs the coming spring’s plantings. She preferred being outdoors during all seasons enjoying nature rather than being in ...more
I enjoyed every minute of the threeish hours I spent listening to this book. It's a journal kept for a year in 1898 by a young English mother who married a German, and so lives in Germany. Mostly she talks about her garden, and babies, and friends, and her love for being alone with her garden and books. Sounds like it could be dreadfully boring, but it's not. (I don't usually use words like dreadfully, but after listening to this kind of book it's hard not to). I admit that this book isn't for e ...more
This is a gently captivating short portrait of a young English woman and the German garden she resurrects through her own eccentric passion for solitude, nature, and beauty. There are some short comical episodes describing Elizabeth's surrounding society and her friends and odd visitors. The strength this book, however, is the continued return of Elizabeth in mind and body to her garden. She thrives and becomes herself in the simplicity of this garden. I believe it is an impressive writing for a ...more
Bumping up to 4 stars because this quote (and it's one of many) is awesome:

"That is the worst of being fed enough, and clothed enough, and warmed enough, and of having everything you can reasonably desire-on the least provocation you are made uncomfortable and unhappy by such abstract discomforts as being shut out from a nearer approach to your neighbor's soul; which is on the face of it foolish, the probability being that he hasn't got one."

And not to mention that I totally envy Elizabeth her b
Gayle Gordon
I really like Elizabeth in spite of myself. I say that because I discovered some things about Elizabeth from this book that were a little troubling, things that I sort of got an inkling of from the other two books of hers that I have read so far (The Enchanted April and Mr. Skeffington.) Since this book is pretty much an autobiography, though classified as fiction, I feel that much of what Elizabeth says in the book is most likely coming from her rather than a fictional character that she has in ...more

Originally published in 1898, Elizabeth and Her German Garden was quite popular and was reprinted several times in subsequent years. Ms. von Armin went on to write many other books, but this one in particular has enjoyed a recent resurgence in popularity since it was featured in a Downton Abbey story line.several seasons ago.

The book is written as a diary of an aristocratic young married woman living in a country home in Germany. The Elizabeth of the title is witty, self confident and independen
Elizabeth von Arnim's description of life in her German garden is an ideal read for spring and any gardener. There are lots of descriptions of her plans for her garden and the results of her efforts and having a small garden myself, I understand the satisfaction of seeing the roses bloom and plants flourish. It is a very good description of life in a aristocratic German family at the end of the nineteenth century.
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Missing chapter? 4 30 Feb 01, 2013 10:19AM  
Victorians!: German Garden - January-onward 8 24 Apr 24, 2012 03:45PM  
Victorians!: German Garden - November-December 5 26 Apr 11, 2012 01:22PM  
Victorians!: German Garden - May-Sept 21 33 Apr 10, 2012 01:18PM  
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Elizabeth, Countess Russell, was a British novelist and, through marriage, a member of the German nobility, known as Mary Annette Gräfin von Arnim.
Born Mary Annette Beauchamp in New Zealand while her family resided 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
More about Elizabeth von Arnim...
The Enchanted April The Solitary Summer Vera Mr Skeffington The Pastor's Wife

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“Who can begin conventional amiability the first thing in the morning?” 11 likes
“She belongs to the winter that is past, to the darkness that is over, and has no part or lot in the life I shall lead for the next six months. Oh, I could dance and sing for joy that the spring is here! What a ressurection of beauty there is in my garden, and of brightest hope in my heart.” 8 likes
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