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The Enchanted April

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3.94  ·  Rating details ·  14,874 ratings  ·  2,204 reviews
A notice in The Times addressed to 'Those who Appreciate Wistaria and Sunshine' advertises a 'small mediaeval Italian Castle on the shores of the Mediterranean to be let furnished for the month of April'. Four very different women take up the offer, escaping dreary London for the sunshine of Italy. Among the party are Mrs Wilkins and Mrs Arthuthnot, both fleeing unapprecia ...more
Paperback, Penguin Modern Classics, 221 pages
Published April 5th 2012 by Penguin Classics (first published 1922)
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Average rating 3.94  · 
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 ·  14,874 ratings  ·  2,204 reviews


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Jacob
June 2012

Dissatisfied with their respective lots in life, four English women divorce their respective husbands, get a hefty advance for a book deal, and go off to Italy to enjoy the wisteria (a kind of pasta, I think). After a month of wisteria and freesias and syringa (more pasta?), the women all go to India, where they become spiritual. Following that, they go to Bali, and take handsome exotic Indonesian men as lovers. When they return home, wiser and more enlightened than before,
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Brina
Elizabeth von Arnim strikes me as an interesting character. A writer brought up in influential circles, she married no less than five times in her life, and also enjoyed an affair with writer H.G. Wells after he ended his own affair with Von Arnim's rival Rebecca West. When one of von Arnim's disastrous marriages ended in 1921, she decided to spend a month at Italian castello Portofino as a way to clear her head. The idea for her classic book The Enchanted April has been born. Von Arnim had the ...more
Tadiana ✩Night Owl☽
Four proper English ladies, who don't really know each other at all, decide to pool their resources and rent an Italian villa for a month, in the 1920's. They all have different personalities and there are some conflicting expectations. To make matters worse, (view spoiler). How can this pos ...more
Steven Godin
You can't best a good old holiday in warmer climates, but for the four ladies at the heart of Elizabeth von Arnim's 1922 novel there is more to it than that. The story is both a triumph to the transformative power of travel, and charmed with a decorative feel like that of a sun-kissed fairytale. von Arnim certainly cast a spell over me, and although we may only be talking of the Italian coast, it really felt like being whisked further away, enraptured in another world.

Four very different women
...more
Rowena
Jun 15, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: classics, favorites
“All down the stone steps on either side were periwinkles in full flower, and she could now see what it was that had caught at her the night before and brushed, wet and scented across her face. It was wistaria. Wistaria and sunshine.”

This was a lovely book about four English women who answer an advertisement to rent an Italian chateau in San Salvatore,Italy during a dismal April in England. The advertisement seems to be a godsend to these women, whose lives are not going the way they
...more
Bobby Underwood
Nov 25, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Much like the film this book by Elizabeth Von Arnim inspired, there is something peaceful here on these pages. This is a gentle novel about gradual internal changes brought about by the beauty of our surroundings. It is a book that reads itself as much as it is read, the author writing with the flow of the characters' thoughts and feelings, as their hearts are changed by the surprise of beauty.

An ad to rent a castle in San Salvatore on the Italian Riviera will prompt two British wome
...more
Idarah
Apr 16, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
“It was, that year, a particularly wonderful spring, and of all the months at San Salvatore April, if the weather was fine, was best. May scorched and withered; March was restless, and could be hard and cold in its brightness; but April came along softly like a blessing, and if it were a fine April it was so beautiful that it was impossible not to feel different, not to feel stirred and touched.”


One of my aunts recently introduced me to fruit infused water. In the scorching Texas heat, which has alread
...more
Beverly
May 06, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This was so mesmerizing and lovely. I had heard of the movie and knew vaguely what it was about, but I didn't realize it was first a book until recently. Why? Everything that is any good, is always first a book. Four women seek a vacation in Italy to get away from a dreary, soggy London. April in Italy sounds like a precious dream and it is. Each lady is miserable and alone in their own ways, even though two of them are married.

Once it seems that the dream might become reality, they
...more
Cecily


Enchanting Transformation

The enchantment of the title is apt, as there is an almost magical feel about the power of a beautiful landscape.

This is a carefully observed story of characters and transformation – including, perhaps, the reader. It constantly juxtaposes light with underlying sadness and hope. It’s about finding the courage to shake off undeserved guilt, rattle convention, and be true to yourself – and thus to others in your life. “Now she had taken off all her goodness and left it behind her like a h
...more
Candi
Mar 27, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: classics-shelf
This was a delightful little story! Four women, previously unknown to one another, leave a dreary winter in England behind to take a one month April holiday in a small, charming Italian castle after responding to an advertisement in a newspaper. The descriptions of the landscape are very lush and made me wish that I could make such an escape myself after a seemingly never-ending winter.

“By the end of the week the fig-trees were giving shade, the plum-blossom was out among the olives, the modest
...more
Sara
In the words of Cole Porter, It’s delightful, It’s delicious, It’s de-lovely

The Enchanted April is sweet and soothing and heartwarming, like the holiday we find ourselves on with Lotty, Rose, Caroline and Mrs. Fisher. First off, I loved all the descriptions of the grounds and the gardens. I could see the Judas tree in bloom, the wisteria draping the arbors, and smell the frecias. The idea of a medieval castle in Italy was as charming to me as it was to Lotty Wilkins when she encountered the adve
...more
Fiona MacDonald
Mar 03, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Charming, beautiful and wonderfully witty! This was a complete hidden gem, but I loved it, loved the writing which was lyrical, loved the characters, who were all drawn to minuscule detail and mostly loved the exquisite descriptions of Italy and the flowering and fragrance of early April
Maria
May 01, 2019 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: great-britain
Four women spontaneously rent a castle in Italy for the month of April. Two of them are distant acquaintances, but other than that, they don't know each other. They are all displeased with their lives, and need a break. Away from everything they know, they get the chance to think things over, to come back to their true selves, as it were.

And the little castle, San Salvatore, seems to be just what they need. It is a place of healing. I would have loved to say that this story has a strong sense o
...more
Sarah
Apr 16, 2010 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shall I tell you a secret? .. It's always been my fantasy to share a castle with my friends!

This book was a joy to read! It satisfies so many of my literary cravings: kinship, validation, botanical beauty. There's a shy misfit, a beautiful socialite. All four voices, though quite distinct, resonated with me in some way. Elizabeth von Arnim was very smart in the way she developed characters and intertwined their separate narratives into one cohesive whole. I was just enough aware of l
...more
Kim
Apr 18, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: kindle

Some spoilers ahead, so beware.

On a whim, I joined a few of my GR friends in a group read of this novel, which I'd not read previously. Originally published in 1922, the premise of the narrative is appealing: four unrelated women share a medieval castle on the Italian Riviera for a month, the "enchanted April" of the title. Each woman has a reason to escape her life in gloomy London and, in time, each woman is transformed by the experience.

The novel gets lots of love from reviewers
...more
Madeline
Sep 19, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The Enchanted April is the ultimate comfort read, to the point where I’m almost disappointed that I read it in the summertime rather than the middle of winter, because I love the idea of reading this book while huddled under blankets during a snowstorm. This is the story of four British women in 1922 who rent an Italian villa for a month.

That’s it! That’s the book! Just four nice ladies who are kind of unhappy with their lives decide to go on vacation. Aside from their unhappy marriages (and it’s re
...more
Mariel
Dec 18, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: I think I've made the spanish moss that grows on trees around here a bit jealous
Recommended to Mariel by: Elizabeth
There's a castle in Italy. Wisteria grows there. Can you picture the private wilderness? The castle is not important. It is a fortress to protect the plants. Don't tread on me. More importantly, can you see yourself there? It's a little place unmolested and unpressed on by who you are in all of those other places you can't quite see yourself in but you're still there all the same. If you wander around in that bit of wild life will you leave tracks in the dirt there too? You know that Camera Obsc ...more
SallyB
I didnt hate it but didnt absolutely love it either. The plot and premise of the story was right up my alley. The description of the scenery and beautiful writing was really fantastic and i enjoyed it, for the most part. This read almost like chick-lit. A girls trip to a castle in italy in the springtime where the flowers and ocean seduced and relaxed. Ahh. Makes me wanna drink some 🍷 What took away from my enjoyment was the amount the author veered off from conversations in the present to think ...more
Evelina | AvalinahsBooks
Some say that a person becomes his circumstances. Or, at least, that someone's circumstances make them who they are. Because it's enough to only thrust someone into an unfamiliar, different environment, and they seem to become a whole different person. Have you had this happen to you? Have you ever felt how when you go on vacation, you're suddenly so much more emotionally stable, mature and perhaps more like you've always wanted to be? Or is it the contrary – maybe you're prone to wandering around ...more
HBalikov
Jul 16, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
The Enchanted April is a comedy in the true tradition of Shakespeare. Though written as a novel, it has been easily converted to a play and a film. It is a book about time and place and the effects that those things have on our thoughts and deeds. As the book begins we find ourselves in London on a cold and wet winter day post-World War One. We quickly meet Mrs. Wilkins and Mrs. Arbuthnot who both are members of a “women’s club” that serves as a refuge when they are out and about fulfilling thei ...more
Piyangie
Jun 04, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: own-library, brit-lit
The Enchanted April is one of the most sweet books I have read. It is a classic; a classic which is timeless and which has universal appeal.

The story is about four women, who are almost strangers, sharing a medieval castle for the month of April in Italy. These four women, having fled from their unhappy homes, reflect on themselves and their past in the quiet, beautiful, sunny surroundings; and at the end of their shared vacation, they come to understand themselves and what has made them unhapp
...more
Sue
Very enjoyable story of 4 English women who holiday in Italy to escape their lonely lives in London. The transformations wrought by the Italian sun and the landscape are wonderful to behold. There is a delicious note of irony behind the narrative as we watch these women wake up in a decidedly un-feminist time from their pre-holiday existences. I definitely think I'll re-read this book in the future.
Edward
Sep 13, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Introduction, by Brenda Bowen

--The Enchanted April

Chapter One of 'Enchanted August', by Brenda Bowen
Diane
"To those who appreciate wistaria and sunshine..."

This is the second Elizabeth von Arnim book I've read recently, and I've enjoyed them so much I plan on reading more of her novels. Enchanted April is the story of four unhappy Englishwomen who impulsively rent a castle in Italy in April, and the experience changes them for the better. One finds peace, another vitality, and several find love. I was especially fond of the character Lotty Wilkins, the one who was convinced that a month
...more
Grace Tjan
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Laura
John Steinbeck said, at the beginning of his book, Travels with Charley: In Search of America, that "...we do not take a trip; a trip takes us." I was reminded of that quote so many times while escaping to Italy in this wonderful book.

I don't think the power of a trip such as the one these four women took can be overestimated. We see in the novel how their lives were all transformed as a result. It's a pleasant story, but I think as women, as the primary (in most cases) caretakers of our homes and families, we all
...more
Veronique
Sep 03, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
4.5 Re-read

I had heard of this book over 20 years ago but never tried it. Then Waterstones picked it for their month’s choice a few years back and brought it back to my attention. I’m so pleased they did!

A discreet advertisement in the Times, addressed to “those who appreciate wisteria and sunshine”, is the prelude to a revelatory month for four very different women, who each crave respite from real life. Lulled by the gentle spirit of the Mediterranean, they gradually sh
...more
Britta Böhler
Charming!
Bruce
Apr 12, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Elizabeth Von Arnim (1866-1941) was born of English parents in Australia but soon returned to England where she grew up. She subsequently lived a somewhat peripatetic existence in Europe, finally settling in the US.

This is a beautifully written novel. Von Arnim’s descriptions are evocative, her sense of pace perceptive and compelling. Her four main characters are distinct and individuated, although they are perhaps unrealistically stereotypical and a bit two-dimensional, as if created to prove
...more
Marialyce
Apr 11, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: april-2012
Loved, loved, loved it.

This was a perfect peaceful book. There were no major issues nor were we trying to solve the problems of the planet. This was just a book where the important message was to be selfish, to allow yourself to get back to the things that are always the most important, that of your love for each other. Yes, it does sound oh so maudlin, but this sweet, kind book is just what I needed. It made me say ah at the end (and really mean it!)

Our story follows fou
...more
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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 du
...more
“Beauty made you love, and love made you beautiful.” 52 likes
“... Why, it would really be being unselfish to go away and be happy for a little, because we would come back so much nicer.” 25 likes
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