Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “The Enchanted April” as Want to Read:
The Enchanted April
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

The Enchanted April

3.97  ·  Rating details ·  11,256 Ratings  ·  1,677 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, 240 pages
Published April 5th 2012 by Penguin Classics (first published 1922)
More Details... edit details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

Community Reviews

(showing 1-30)
Rating details
Sort: Default
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, they write w
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 possibly not go south really fast ...more
Jun 15, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites, classics
“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 had hoped.
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 h
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 women of slight

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 be
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 literary devi
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
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 and I unders
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.
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
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
"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 in Italy wou
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
Grace Tjan
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
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
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
April is apparently the cruelest month, but my nomination would probably be those four weeks or so spanning the middle of October on up to Thanksgiving; I can't speak for anyone else, but for anybody on an academic calendar it's an interminably long period with not even a single three day weekend for some kind of brief respite, and Thanksgiving break is reached more or less in a state of exhaustion. It was during this period that I realized that if I couldn't actually take a vacation I was going ...more
Fiona MacDonald
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
Apr 15, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I find Enchanted April to be an extremely difficult book to review. The book is too close to my heart. Not in the same way that Possession or The Lord of the Rings are, but in some secret hidden corner.

Enchanted April is about four women who rediscover life. It is about four women who rediscover the meaning of friendship. It's about four women who learn to leave the prejudices behind. It is about the discovery and rediscovery of love. Above all, it is about Italy.

The book is one those perfect bo
Aug 17, 2017 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Per il mio personalissimo gusto questo libro è tollerabile solo perché è stato scritto nel 1922. Mi ha irritato dall'inizio alla sdolcinatissima fine, che mi è giunta ancora più intollerabile dopo che per un attimo avevo sperato (contro ogni speranza) che l'autrice avesse un colpo di coda e ci desse un bel sano divorzio invece di questo diabeticizzante finale in cui amore, amicizia e cuoricini e arcobaleni ci sommergono.
Lo salva, parzialmente, lo stile delizioso di scrittura, davvero bello, e la
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 four woman thrown together
Jennifer (aka EM)
This book is absolutely delightful. Charming, funny -- a perfect combo of dry British humour with something close to farce in the tradition of Three Men In A Boat -- and light without being silly or frivolous. Written in 1922, from the author's base in Portofino, Italy, in which it is set, the novel brings together four English women, previously unknown to each other, for a get-away-from-it-all vacation in a rented medieval castle (think of a 1920s airbnb).

What they are getting away from inform
Dec 01, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction, 2014-read
Loved this book, first published in 1922 and re-published in 2007 by the New York Review Of Books.

San Salvatore in Italy, as well as all the characters in the book, stole my heart.

Will write a review later.
"'It’s this place,’ she said, nodding at him. ‘It makes one understand. You’ve no idea what you’ll understand before you’ve done here.’”

This story had a definite feminine feel. I’m not talking about the fact that it’s about four women on holiday together, or that it is focused on relationships, or even that flowers play a prominent role. What felt feminine to me--because it reminded me of strong women I’ve known--was the longing wrapped in sarcasm, the acceptance of reality that exists alongside
Oct 11, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: books-i-own
There is something of enchantment in this story, not surprisingly given the title. It is the story of how four English women take a break from their lives, from rain-sodden London and from the Compass points of God, Husband, Home and Duty during the month of April to seek the idylls of an Italian castle. One of them, Mrs. Wilkins, is tempted by an ad in the newspaper that promises sunshine and wistaria – and who wouldn’t be tempted by such a dream? – and asks another woman, Mrs. Arbuthnot, to ac ...more
One of the real pleasures of reading is discovering those hidden gems, those novels that I had never heard of, that turn out to be perfectly enjoyable. The Enchanted April is somewhat of a fairytale, a fantasy that could happen, probably has happened somewhere before. It's the story of four English women, Londoners, who are unhappy with their personal lives, especially with the romantic side. They see an advertisement in a London paper for the April rental of a castle in an Italian fishing villa ...more
This was a delightful story, simply delightful. Filled with warmth and generosity of spirit the pages just flew by.

Loved the characters, especially the female characters. The wonderfully prickly Miss Fisher, the unsettled Lady Caroline, exuberant Lotty and the shy and withdrawn Rose. Each woman comes into their own when they share a villa in the beautiful Italian countryside.

There are some pockets of humour interspersed throughout this wonderful story and at one stage I was laughing out loud. Th
Beth Bonini
Like the four women who spend a month together in a flower-bedecked castle in Italy, the readers must surrender herself (or himself!) to the gentle, romantic and somewhat mystical charms of this book. It's a book about friendship, love and transformation; it is about journeys both external and internal, and the art of opening oneself to beauty and fresh possibilities. Von Arnim's style is breathy, and she is prone to the rhetorical device of repetition, but her sense of humour and occasionally s ...more
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 next »
  • All Passion Spent
  • The Fountain Overflows
  • Angel
  • Lolly Willowes
  • Miss Mole
  • Summer Half
  • The Tortoise and the Hare
  • Invitation to the Waltz
  • Excellent Women
  • Nightingale Wood
  • The Constant Nymph
  • Anderby Wold
  • The Shuttle
  • Wish Her Safe at Home
  • A Month in the Country
  • The Diary of a Provincial Lady
  • Miss Pettigrew Lives for a Day
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...
“Beauty made you love, and love made you beautiful.” 40 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.” 23 likes
More quotes…