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The Pastor's Wife

3.83  ·  Rating details ·  244 Ratings  ·  35 Reviews
Ingeborg Bullivant decides spontaneously to join a tour to Lucerne-and returns engaged. Yet her new life as a rural Prussian pastor's wife restricts her as much as her old; and when the dashing artist Ingram appears, musing about wondrous Italy, wanderlust tempts her a second time. Von Arnim's accomplished and comic novel is based on her own first marriage and life in prov ...more
Virago Modern Classics, 492 pages
Published December 6th 1987 (first published 1914)
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I picked this up, probably just because it was cheap but was left wondering why I hadn't heard of Elizabeth von Arnim before.

The novel has a deceptively light tone that enables her to talk easily about troubled and difficult marriages - this is a book written in the early years of the 20th century as well as a book that drew on her experience of her own marriage.

The story is fairly straight forward. Young woman, the daughter of a bishop, is proposed to while on holiday and because she can't mana
I've never read such an apparently mild book that made me so wildly angry. Von Arnim is becoming a personal hero.

(Longer review written at a greater distance included in my fall/winter roundup on my blog:
Oct 03, 2015 rated it really liked it
What a delightful novel. Written by Elizabeth von Arnim and published in 1914, the story is that of Ingeborg Bullivant, the second and less obviously attractive daughter of Bishop and Mrs. Bullivant in England. Ingeborg has been raised by her father to be completely obedient and to be his secretary and assistant, this upbringing rooted not so much in real affection as in Biblical admonitions, although her “sanctity,” at least as he defines it, defines his affection. Ingeborg consequently has lea ...more
Apr 23, 2015 rated it really liked it
Shelves: vintage-novels
This was my second von Arnim read, and I am rather amazed at this author's ability to confront complex women's issues and still maintain a light touch. By that I mean that the heavy issues are not confronted head-on, but are wrapped in layers of humor, heady descriptions of nature, and forays into art and literature. I find I need time to digest it all after closing the book.

In this novel, a young woman goes from the protected and stifling cocoon of her Father's home (an English Bishop), to the
Dec 24, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
What a roller coaster ride this was! I was so surprised at ever turn. What utterly perfect and marvelous character development. What exquisite changes in points of view. This is exactly what I read Elizabeth von Arnim for. She makes me smile. Sometimes she sort of breaks my heart. She never bores me. What a fabulously unexpected ending.
May 13, 2017 rated it it was ok
Shelves: 2017
I enjoyed Ingeborg's brief escapes. Women going quietly about their work might suddenly break out and do surprising things. People you take for granted might have an inner life you never imagined. von Arnim has a predominantly negative view of men in most of her writing - it seems to have been her life experience - but it gets tired for me. Ingeborg's work to develop her mind through reading, her attempts to break her children out of their mute acceptance of what is, and her sheer joy at seeing ...more
Laura McDonald
Apr 24, 2011 rated it liked it
I believe I am getting to the root of what I love and don't love about Von Arnim's writing. I love her autobiographical and first-person POV work. I love her insights into life, love, and nature. I love her optimism and happiness and boundless joy at small pleasures. I love that she loves to be alone with her thoughts, and she actually thinks and sees right to the bottom of things.

I don't love her third-person and omniscient POV work. I didn't know exactly why until I read The Pastor's Wife and
May 23, 2013 rated it it was ok
Shelves: spiritual, kindle
I am puzzled about how to consider this book. On the one hand, the main character is over-powered by everyone else in the book except her preternaturally good children (who utterly creeped me out, innocent as they were), but has, as it were, two moments of happy personal strength (and it is strength), one at the beginning and one at the end. The rest of the time is a struggle which is hard for the reader to "watch." The ending is a sort of triumphant tragedy, and I don't know that I will ever kn ...more
Jun 03, 2009 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favourites
I am amazed at the lightness of touch of this book. It is witty, sometimes downright hilarious (for example the proposal scene) and joyful and yet manages to reveal (without any preachiness or tut-tutting) the crushing effect of the inequality that dominated women's lives. It's beautifully written. I recommend it.
Aug 07, 2014 rated it it was ok
Shelves: christianity, dud
The Pastor's Wife (1914 fiction) was a sad commentary on people in the church who haven't a clue what it means to follow Christ. Every character was selfish to the core. It was terribly hard to like a book in which none of the principle characters have any redeeming qualities.
Sep 23, 2014 rated it it was amazing
A Lovely, long Von Arnim novel which deals ith marriage, motherhood and the subjugation of women.

My full review here:
Oct 14, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition

Romanzo che è tanto scorrevole e piacevole, quanto triste di fondo – ma altrettanto vero.
Benché Herr Dremmell sia tipizzato e appartenente ad un’altra mentalità ed epoca, rappresenta uno dei difetti che si trovano spesso in tanti uomini, il fatto di non ascoltare, andare avanti secondo quanto si pensa e dare per scontata la persona che si ha accanto.
E come Ingeborg è passiva, inetta a prendere davvero in mano la sua vita, ad alcuni può apparire irritante e sciocco, ma personalmente mi ha
Dec 06, 2014 rated it really liked it
Recommended to Mady by: Florbela Barreto
Shelves: 2015
Oh Ingeborg, how silly and naive can you be? :)

Elizabeth Von Arnim writes about charming characters. But the funny thing is that her books make try to picture her, the writer, the voice behind her characters. I try to imagine which of her flaws, which of her strengths she gives to each of her characters.

Only down side for me on this book was some slowness of the plot development, some lack of action that created the need for me to read other books in the meantime. Regardless, I was happy to retu
Dec 15, 2014 rated it really liked it
This isn't my favourite but it's very enjoyable even although I did see how it was going to end sometime before getting there.
May 03, 2017 rated it really liked it
This novel was published in 1914 and is another of the genre examining the stultifying effects of forcing women into a very narrow and defined role. A young English woman, raised by her father "The Bishop" to be nothing more than a helpful adjunct and possession of her father, sneaks away on a freedom spree to visit Lucerne when she is supposed to be in London visiting the dentist. She meets a German pastor/farmer and is swept away by his attentions. She resolves to marry him against her father' ...more
Lytton Bell
Sep 15, 2017 rated it it was amazing
The writing sometimes almost reaches the poetic eloquence of a D.H. Lawrence - maybe this was simply a shining moment historically for English Literature. I had to give it five stars because she pulled off a miraculously tragic ending without inspiring utter hopeless agony in the reader. Genius trick. The characters were so subtle, complicated and interesting - how did she do that. Especially how Ingram turned slowly from hot sauce to dry rot in such a way as to convince you he had always been a ...more
Mar 18, 2017 rated it liked it
Well, this book is a mix of serious and ridiculous, so it captures life pretty accurately. While wrestling with serious issues regarding women and society, von Arnim lets the ridiculous just shine through so that sometimes I couldn't be sure if I was angry or laughing. Poor Ingeborg!
Jun 02, 2015 rated it it was ok
At 22 years of age, Ingeborg, finds herself unchaperoned in London with 10 pounds. For years she has served as her father, the Bishop's, secretary, and
homemaker, in place of her mother who has taken to the couch for years, and chaperone for her younger more beautiful sister; every hour of her day was scheduled to take care of somebody else's needs. When she sees the chance to join a tour group going to Lucerne for 7 days, leaving her with a little money left over, she jumps at the chance. Then
Vera Maharani
Ingeborg, the heroine of the story, was an English bishop's daughter. On her first trip alone to London for a dentist appointment, she impulsively booked a trip to Lucerne and somehow came back engaged to a German pastor. They got married and Ingeborg was taken to her husband's hometown in Kökensee, where she lived in a constant culture shock and misunderstanding. This story followed Ingeborg as she try to make best of her life as the Frau Pastor and not losing herself in the process.

Starring a
Jul 16, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A detta di molti sedicenti luminari le donne non scrivono bene quanto gli uomini, chiss� perch� al mondo femminile si addicono storie d'amore oppure al massimo storie di famiglie, di intimit� e cose cos�. La von Arnim eredita secondo me parte dell'arguzia e dell'ironia degli inglesi dell'ottocento,ricorda Trollope, in alcune ambientazione e come lui fa sorridere, ma aggiunge un'innovazione straordinaria. Mette in luce le ipocrisie dell'epoca, e smontando parecchi miti, quale quello della materni ...more
I am officially a fan of von Arnim. This is such a sad story of hope and innocence versus indifference and expectations. It seems a tale of old where men and women, husbands and wives, parents and children all behaved differently and all had very specific, more black and white roles than what we have today in relationships. However, the hurt of indifference and disappointment in people you trust is always the same.
Jul 13, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Von Arnim so beautifully captures the human spirit in all its happiness and pain that it feels as fresh as if it were written today. This novel is an emotional roller coaster, with dry humor often the result of conflicting social norms or values, yet also the setting of agonizing verbal and physical abuse - which felt so real it was almost hard to read.

Nevertheless, I would read it all again because it was so beautifully written.
Melody McMahon
Dec 12, 2012 rated it liked it
I loved the other von Arnim I read a long time ago, so decided to read this and was not unhappy I did, but it is strange. Very lighthearted at first even though complaining about lot in life. But the thing that really made me distraught was the lack of gumption in Ingeborg's life--she makes these huge leaps, though come to think of it, they are all rather spur of the moment, but when it comes to it, she cannot get the gumption to take charge of her life.
Nov 15, 2015 rated it liked it
I enjoy reading books from this era. I found the ending of The Pastor's Wife unsettling. Like there should have been more to it; it was not a satisfactory finish. But I did enjoy reading the book. It was just not a book one closes with a happy sigh, but a book that leads one to introspection about realties and right and wrong.
Amy Young
Apr 15, 2015 rated it liked it
I picked this as February's Velvet Ashes Book Club book -- great themes for women living as ex-pats:

*family patterns
*second culture women
*figuring out cultural rules
*loneliness and boredom
*marriages that weren't the most satisfying

(For Downton Abbey fans -- Mosely gave Anna a copy of this book. It was hot in 1914)
Mary Christian Payne


I liked this book, probably because I love to read books from writers of this era The plot was good, but would be unrealistic in today's world. far too much detail,but very typical of its time.
Good but not my favorite

Arnim is very good at pointing out the complexities of human relationships. People are complicated and endings are not always happy. She gets that. Very descriptive writing. I liked it a lot but probably won't read it again.
Nov 27, 2016 rated it did not like it
I loved The Enchanted April but gave up on this book. It did not hold my interest at all
Chamindra Warusawitharane
Feb 04, 2016 rated it really liked it
I loved the author's power of observation and the way she revealed emotions. The tone was wry yet beautiful. She has a way with descriptions that I find appealing.
Sep 11, 2016 rated it really liked it
Ingeborg is surrounded by overbearing, self-absorbed men: her father, her husband and her friend (and would-be lover, if he had his way). I hated them all.
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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...

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“She would go off in the morning with the punt full of books, and spend long glorious days away in the forest lying on the green springy carpet of whortleberries, reading. She would most diligently work at furnishing her empty mind. She would sternly endeavour to train it not to jump.” 14 likes
“... but it's fun being alive, isn't it? I feel as if I'd only got to stretch up my hands to all those stars and catch as many of them as I want to.” 6 likes
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