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Elizabeth and Her German Garden (Elizabeth)

3.84  ·  Rating Details ·  1,757 Ratings  ·  249 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
Kindle Edition, Virago Modern Classics
Published (first published 1898)
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Tadiana ✩Night Owl☽
Elizabeth and her German Garden is a semi-autobiographical book written in 1898 by Elizabeth von Arnim (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. Random interesting trivia: it's also the home of Malbork Castle, the largest castle in the world:

This book is
Apr 20, 2010 Sarah rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Jun 18, 2015 Helle rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is a book to disappear into and I did. Where Virginia Woolf said that women need a room of their own, von Arnim makes a strong case for a garden as that most necessary of settings. As Voltaire before her said that happiness lies in the cultivation of a garden; as Cicero said that if you have a garden and a library you have everything you need; as the garden was where Jane Austen went and refreshed herself and as gardens frequently featured in both her novels and her letters, Elizabeth von A ...more
May 29, 2012 Diane rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
This was my favorite thing I read this year. I wrote more about why here, at Book Riot:
Mar 25, 2012 Jane rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
This story is available for free at

It began with the statement: May 7th - I love my garden..

Well, so do I.

The story was first published in 1898 but the years soon melted away. Her memoir was loaded with those funny long sentences containing plenty of commas, semi-colons and dashes that were in fashion back then. It covered one year in the life of Elizabeth von Arnim. The moral to this story? Truth is often stranger than fiction.

Elizabeth married a widowe
Jun 28, 2015 Ali rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Described as a novel, Elizabeth and her German Garden has the feel of a memoir. Written in the form of a diary, it was Elizabeth von Arnim’s first novel, originally published anonymously. It is immediately very personal as it recounts the first couple of blissful months that the Elizabeth of the title spends alone supervising the redecorating work at her German home.
Here in the garden of her home, Elizabeth is able to escape the traditional routine of German wife and mother. Her simple joy in he
Beth Bonini
Nov 26, 2016 Beth Bonini rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: historical, gardens
Although this novel is not strictly memoir, both the intimate voice and the known facts of the author's life make it read as if it were. It's a strange and whimsical little book in some ways, and I think it needs to be read in the right mood: ideally, when solitary; and even better, when drunk with the beauty of the countryside in spring. There are no chapters, and there is no real plot - although it roughly chronicles a gardening year at a large country estate in northern Germany at the end of ...more
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
Sep 20, 2010 Melee rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Dec 17, 2014 Caren rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: adult-fiction
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
Mar 20, 2012 Marialyce rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Afton Nelson
Jul 08, 2011 Afton Nelson rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: adult
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
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
Jul 29, 2013 Jae rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: modern-classics, vmc
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
Apr 07, 2017 Chari rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2017
Vale, quizás cuatro estrellas hubiesen sido suficientes, pero es que yo no califico en base a calidad literaria de las obras sino en base a cuanto las he disfrutado. No soy crítica literaria, soy lectora.

Elizabeth y su jardín alemán es un libro que me ha encantado y resultado tremendamente delicioso porque he sentido una empatía casi total con Elizabeth con respecto a su especial comunión y sensibilidad para con la naturaleza.
Una lectura en la que la escritora ha conseguido transmitirme toda l
Jenna Anderson
Apr 06, 2012 Jenna Anderson rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Apr 04, 2015 Sarah rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Elizabeth has a privileged life and has moved from England after her marriage to her German husband. She is uninterested in the expectations that she spends her many hours sewing, visiting neighbours, organising her household and supervising her servants. She wants only to escape into her wilderness garden and plan its transformation. She is a novice gardener but is passionate in her choice of plants, seeds and bulbs and she learns from her planting success and occasional mistakes. She has a gar ...more
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’
Claire McAlpine
Feb 20, 2013 Claire McAlpine rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction
Originally published anonymously in 1898, Elizabeth von Armin (born Mary Annette Beauchamp) was the cousin of Katherine Mansfield who married a German Count and wasn't too enamoured with city life in Berlin, however once she discovered the rural home and garden her husband owned, she spent much of her time there, much to the chagrin of her husband, whom she affectionately refers to throughout the book as The Man of Wrath, and he referring to her as a woman with eccentricities.

This is no gardeni
Apr 10, 2012 Kalliope rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction-english
When you are leading a very urban life nowadays, spending time daily in either the subway and/or in the car, and keeping an eye on the watch constantly, reading a book about white blossoms, dandelions, blue hepaticas, snow-drop anemones, violets and bright celandines, silvery-pink peonies and delicate lilacs, seems to me as far off as reading about Life in Mars.

This is a delightful book but also naughtily mischievous.
Apr 03, 2016 Hilary rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
After enjoying Enchanted April so much I was suprised I didn't enjoy this one. I found Elizabeth unkind and shallow. Taking a baby owl from a nest was horrible. I know you have to view this through eyes of the time but I found her views of people from a class she saw as below her awful.
Susan Branch
Jun 18, 2013 Susan Branch rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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.
May 27, 2017 Annie rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I've been reading this author just for her descriptions of gardens, like this one on yellow flowers.
"I want to have a border all yellow, every shade of yellow from fieriest orange to nearly white, .....I want it to be a succession of glories from May till the frosts, and the chief feature is to be the number of "ardent marigolds"—flowers that I very tenderly love—and nasturtiums. The nasturtiums are to be of every sort and shade, and are to climb and creep and grow in bushes, and show their love
Aug 11, 2014 ΑνναΦ rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: ebook, giardnaggio
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
Nike Sulway
Mar 24, 2013 Nike Sulway rated it really liked it  ·  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
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
Mar 05, 2015 Claude rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: classic-lit
I had started listening to Elizabeth and Her German Garden, with Librivox and hadn't liked the reader so had put the book on hold. I found another version, which I found perfectly boring too and finally tried the ebook.
Well, I am normally a fan of Elizabeth von Arnim, and I do love visiting gardens, but the audio book put me to sleep and I had to force myself to finish the ebook. I felt like I was reading lists of flower names. I am interested in looking at gardens, smelling flowers and such bu
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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 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 of Prussia.

She had met von Arnim durin
More about Elizabeth von Arnim...

Other Books in the Series

Elizabeth (3 books)
  • The Solitary Summer
  • The Adventures of Elizabeth in Rügen

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“Who can begin conventional amiability the first thing in the morning?” 15 likes
“When I got to the library I came to a standstill, - ah, the dear room, what happy times I have spent in it rummaging amongst the books, making plans for my garden, building castles in the air, writing, dreaming, doing nothing.” 13 likes
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