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Elizabeth and Her German Garden


3.77  ·  Rating details ·  3,127 ratings  ·  507 reviews
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"Elizabeth and Her German Garden," a novel by Elizabeth von Arnim, was popular and frequently reprinted during the early years of the 20th century. "Elizabeth and Her German Garden" is a year's diary written by Elizabeth about her experiences learning gardening and interacting with her friends. It includes commentary on
Hardcover, 207 pages
Published March 1st 2001 by Random House (NY) (first published 1898)
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3.5 stars

“… I don’t love things that will only bear the garden for three or four months in the year and require coaxing and petting for the rest of it. Give me a garden full of strong, healthy creatures, able to stand roughness and cold without dismally giving in and dying. I never could see that delicacy of constitution is pretty, either in plants or women.”

A beautiful, verdant garden would be a welcome place to sit with a book right now, while our normal lives are on hold for an indeterminate
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 i
Aug 20, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is the fourth book I have read by Elizabeth von Arnim. This is the first book she wrote in her literary career (1898) and it was quite the literary hit, going quickly into multiple printings and being published in different languages. She was 32 at the time, 7 years into her marriage to a rich, previously widowed, older count (who was 47, 15 years her senior). This novel was said to be semi-autobiographical in nature. The male character in the novel is called the “Man of Wrath”…I suppose it ...more
Apr 26, 2021 rated it it was ok
This took me a long time to finish, because a lot of it consists of lists of flowers, in long, run on sentences, and because much of it is atrocious socially. Elizabeth von Arnim wrote this in 1898 and so you may say, well, it's of its time. I beg to differ.

Other women were writing before and after this in a much more forward thinking and enlightened way; for example, although she is enamored of her garden and it's beauty, she didn't lift a finger to make it. Her husband, one of the Prussian no
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 f ...more
Diane Barnes
Feb 24, 2018 rated it really liked it
Totally loved Elizabeth and her snarky, honest self. She wants to be left alone to enjoy her garden and her books. I can completely identify.
Apr 20, 2010 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
Apr 28, 2020 rated it liked it
Elizabeth and Her German Garden is a memoir by Elizabeth von Arnim (a.k.a. Marie Annette Beauchamp) who wrote the charming book I earlier read, titled The Enchanting April. I was eager to read about her German garden and was disappointed that I did not enjoy it as much as I had hoped.

Undoubtedly, Elizabeth’s love for gardening and her German garden is the strongest attraction of this memoir. In an old house where she lives which was once a convent, Elizabeth spends all her time reading in the g
This is classified as a piece of semi-autobiographical literature and a classic. It was published in 1898, when Elizabeth von Arnim (1866-1941) was still married to her first husband Henning August von Arnim-Schlagenthin, a Prussian aristocrat. Married in 1891 she became known as Elizabeth von Arnim, although she was born Mary Annette Beauchamp. This is a woman who came to be known under several names, but Elizabeth von Arnim became her most used pen name and by which she is known to family and ...more
May 29, 2012 rated it really liked it
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 is Elizabeth von Arnim's first book and I could tell because I've read other books by her and enjoyed them much more than this one. First, for me, the book was really hard to get into. Although it supposedly read like a diary, for me it really didn't, as I've read other "diary" type books that really drew me in immediately. Second, the descriptions of all the flowers and the garden were longish and slightly boring since I'm not into gardening, at all (I unfortunately kill everything!). I'm ...more
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. ...more
Jun 18, 2015 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
Sep 07, 2019 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: brittish-lit
This is an autobiographical fiction written in the form of a diary entry. Elizabeth (though her true christened name is Mary) who married a German count twice her age had little in common with her husband. The husband being of the German aristocracy, Elizabeth was additionally burdened with the traditions, expectations and conventions. Stuck in a foreign land with an overbearing husband, Elizabeth took in to gardening and writing as a solace. Through Elizabeth and her German Garden, she tells u ...more
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
Mar 25, 2012 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
This was my favorite thing I read this year. I wrote more about why here, at Book Riot: ...more
Marialyce (absltmom, yaya)
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
Beth Bonini
Nov 26, 2016 rated it really liked it
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
Umut Rados
I think this book will be loved by gardening lovers. It just wasn't exactly for me.
It was written in a charming way going through a year of Von Arnim's life that she spent in an estate with a garden while she was learning and enjoying gardening.
The long descriptions of flowers, garden, nature, etc just didn't make a story for me. But I appreciated her humor that she threw here and there.

After all, it's a well written book and I'll try Von Arnim's other books.
…the place I was bound for on my latest pilgrimage was filled with living, first-hand memories of all the enchanted years that lie between two and eighteen. How enchanted those years are is made more and more clear to me the older I grow. There has been nothing in the least like them since; and though I have forgotten most of what happened six months ago, every incident, almost every day of those wonderful long years is perfectly distinct in my memory...
Suanne Laqueur
I am on a mission to clear out my TBR list, which has five years worth of reads. This was one of the 2013 books. Turns out it’s about a woman who loves her garden. I love my garden too but I can’t fill a book with it. It did have some extremely quotable lines, but it’s not what you call a gripping story. Still, very glad I finally read it, and that 2013 is one book lighter. Onward!
Anne (On semi-hiatus)
This book really needs a different title because people will think this is a traditional gardening memoir and it is only partly that. One part garden memoir, two parts memoir a bad marriage and a desire to escape most people and society, in general. Elizabeth retreats to the outdoors whenever possible, unusually into her garden, where she finds peace and solace in her own garden but also in the beauty of the forests beyond her property. She spends full days out of doors, reading and spending
Jun 28, 2015 rated it really liked it
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
Jul 10, 2018 rated it really liked it
I thoroughly enjoyed this book. I totally shared Elizabeth's obsession with plants, although resources do not allow me to purchase as extravagantly at Elizabeth. Additionally, her love of nature and attitude toward life, death, friends, books and boring chit-chat make me think the two of us could have been great friends. ...more
Noelia Alonso
I was told the narrator of this novel was charming. Where was her charm though? She was an entitled selfish woman. Nothing charming about her
Sep 03, 2020 rated it really liked it
This review is for the audio version narrated by Nadia May. I enjoyed this production, the narration was clear and made the read enjoyable.

I liked this little book a lot. Its in essence diary entries, but it reads more of a novel. I can relate with Elizabeth in many ways, and did like her character a lot. Her escape is her garden, which she describes in some detail, but the book also talks about her family and friends. It revolves generally about her life in this time period which is about a yea
Sep 01, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: kindle
Utterly charming and witty, this appealed to me especially as I have just this summer relandscaped part of my garden, intending to create a rose garden - I anticipate making many of the same mistakes as Elizabeth but on a much smaller scale.
Recommended by JimZ on this site, for which many thanks to him and to goodreads - my reading life would be so much poorer without the friends I’ve made here.
One Elizabeth von Armin down, 15 to go .......
Jun 30, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: germany, favorites, 2019
I never could see that delicacy of constitution is pretty, either in plants or women.’

Snarky and witty, charming but never saccharine, Elizabeth and Her German Garden is a fascinating commentary on German nobility and the fragile position of women. But it is also a story of ghosts, oppression and trespassing.

Meet Elizabeth: she just wants people to leave her alone so she can disappear into the twin retreats of garden and library. For my part, I’d like to follow. Von Arnim’s novel offers wonderf
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Missing chapter? 4 39 Feb 01, 2013 10:19AM  
Victorians!: German Garden - January-onward 8 25 Apr 24, 2012 03:45PM  
Victorians!: German Garden - November-December 5 26 Apr 11, 2012 01:22PM  
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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

Other books in the series

Elizabeth (3 books)
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