Eileen's Reviews > The Enchanted April

The Enchanted April by Elizabeth von Arnim
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's review
Jul 28, 2010

liked it
bookshelves: britlit, virago
Read in July, 2010

This one is best for escapism, because that's exactly what it provides. Four ladies escape from England to Italy on a month's holiday. They escape from their husbands, their families, their totally respectable yet clearly unsatisfying (whether clear or unclear to them, it's totally clear to the audience) lives. It's very easy to see why this would make a great film: the story is visually striking, with huge, obvious set pieces (big black wet London vs. sunlit, blooming Italian castle) and decorative twenties costuming. As well, the story is simple, tying up each loose end into a neat package. It's not realistic, but that's part of the point of the book--it's a fairy tale without fairies. Everything ends happily and beautifully, and we don't even have to go back to normal like in London. Things are just fine.

In terms of quality: well, the less than realistic coincidences and nice tight bows of the ending aren't doing the book's higher literary aspirations any good, even if they do complete the story well. The characterization is generally good and the writing generally well done, although some of the characters' inner monologues can get downright irritating before they succumb to the marginal fantastic realism of the denoument. I like the book, but I'm not going to gamble on it (for what? I don't know). It's just not as interesting as I want it to be.

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