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The Enchanted April by Elizabeth von Arnim
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May 18, 2012

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A Story Steeped in Beauty and Truth

“To Those who Appreciate Wistaria and Sunshine. Small mediaeval Italian Castle on the Mediterranean to be Let Furnished for the month of April.”

This simple advertisement changed the course of four women’s lives forever. Mrs. Wilkins spends her days in fear of her husband, unloved and unable to love she wishes to have some time to do exactly what she wants, without having to pretend to be virtuous. Mrs. Arbuthnot carefully fills her days with good works, trying to ignore the distance between her and her once beloved husband. Lady Caroline wants to only be left truly alone, with no one “grabbing at her”. Mrs. Fisher desires time to sit and savor her memories of better times and people. Together they chose to escape dreary London and rent the castle named San Salvatore; spending a month in “heaven” as Mrs. Wilkins comes to call it.

Set against the beautiful Mediterranean scenery we see what each of the main characters are struggling with and how their chance holiday to San Salvatore allows them to change for the better. Each woman blossoms under the magic of flowers and sea and beauty and each other. By the end of this miraculous April they bare very little resemblance to their London selves. Von Arnim instantly pulls you in and introduces the characters in such a way as to let you get to know them very quickly. You see their lives and motivations, what haunts them and their deeper desires –especially with the help of Mrs. Wilkins insight. This book is about the inner life and not so much the outer show the characters put on.

When I think of this book what comes to mind is the word beautiful. I’m not sure whether it is the writing or the imagery, but all you can think of is beauty. At the beginning of this book I found the rate of information given hard to digest, but as the story went on either the rate decreased or I might have gotten used to it. I’m not sure which. Either way it all worked out in the end and didn’t take away from my overall reading experience.

This was a lovely book and well worth the effort. Sadly, I originally planned on giving it four stars until toward the end. The way the deception at the end of the book was handled really bothered me and frankly lost the book a star. I do, however, like this book well enough to try and search out others by Elizabeth von Arnim, who lived a very fascinating life in her own right.
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12/17/2016 marked as: read

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