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Elizabeth and Her German Garden (Elizabeth)

3.83  ·  Rating details ·  1,930 Ratings  ·  276 Reviews
"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 the beauty of nature and on society, but is primarily ...more
Hardcover, 207 pages
Published March 1st 2001 by Random House (NY) (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
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
Apr 20, 2010 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites
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
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
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 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
This was my favorite thing I read this year. I wrote more about why here, at Book Riot:
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
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!
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
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
Dec 14, 2017 rated it really liked it
3.5 stars

A late 19th century small book set in Germany. Billed as a novel, it reads only as a memoir. I found no story arc to speak of. Instead, these are pleasant and sometimes insightful ponderings and sketches featuring the protagonist’s love of countryside and garden, solitude and study.

Her genteel snark is amusing, her frustration with common culture and social expectations is relatable, and her feminist-flavored perspectives are interesting from the rear view mirror of more than a century
Feb 13, 2013 rated it it was ok
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
Sep 20, 2010 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
I loved all the gardening parts in this story. The human-interest parts, and Elizabeth's rather dysfunctional marriage and friends, weren't as enjoyable, but I truly enjoyed her talks about learning how to garden and the little incidents with her children and servants. I totally identified with her desire to fill her life with nothing but garden, library, tea, and loving her little daughters! Perhaps she isn't eccentric after all...or does that make me eccentric?
Cristina - Athenae Noctua
Se letto con superficialità, Il giardino di Elizabeth può sembrare un romanzo disimpegnato, una rassegna botanica anche molto particolareggiata, un memoriale di piccole amarezze e piccole gioie quotidiane. Ma, se affrontato in un'ottica diversa, con un'attenzione particolare al pensiero di una donna che cercava di ritagliarsi un proprio spazio e di cercare se stessa al di là del ruolo sociale che le era stato assegnato, possiamo guardare a questo libro come a un importante documento, peraltro es ...more
Dec 17, 2014 rated it really liked it
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 rated it really liked it
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 rated it really liked it
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
Jul 29, 2013 rated it really liked it
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 03, 2016 rated it it was ok
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.
Apr 07, 2017 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 rated it it was amazing
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 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 rated it really liked it
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 rated it really liked it
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.
Susan Branch
Jun 18, 2013 rated it it was amazing
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 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
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Missing chapter? 4 34 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  
Victorians!: German Garden - May-Sept 21 34 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 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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“Who can begin conventional amiability the first thing in the morning?” 16 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.” 12 likes
More quotes…