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Group Read Archive 2014-16 > Classic Group Read (November 2014) - The Enchanted April, by Elizabeth von Arnim

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message 1: by Holly, That Geeky One (new)

Holly (hollycoulson) | 1949 comments Mod
The Enchanted April, by Elizabeth von Arnim has been selected as this months Classic Group Read

This seems to have gotten loads of hype within the group!

Reading will start 1st November!


message 2: by Renee, Mistress of the Mini-Challenge (new)

Renee M | 4727 comments Mod
Loved both movie and book! Offering to moderate, since I'm such a fan. Maybe we can all rent the dvd in our respective towns and do a little movie chat when we finish reading. :)


message 3: by Sandy (new)

Sandy So looking forward to this one!


message 4: by Sandy (new)

Sandy Glad to learn that you will be moderating, Renee.


message 5: by Cristal (new)

Cristal Punnett Order a copy from my local library, looking forward to the discussion.


message 6: by Amber (new)

Amber (amberterminatorofgoodreads) I have it on my tablet so I'll get to it when I can.


message 7: by Renee, Mistress of the Mini-Challenge (new)

Renee M | 4727 comments Mod
Yep. I've got a paperback somewhere but I'm too lazy to track it down. Thank goodness for Public Domain!


message 8: by Sandy (new)

Sandy I downloaded it from librivox today.


message 9: by Sandy (new)

Sandy I listened to one chapter. I think it's going to be good! :-)


message 10: by Camille (new)

Camille (camillesbookishadventures) | 812 comments Thanks for sharing, Iasa, I love a free book! :-)


message 11: by Holly, That Geeky One (new)

Holly (hollycoulson) | 1949 comments Mod
In case anyone is interested, you can get the free public domain book, like mentioned above, from Project Gutenberg.

There's .epub and .mobi formats for all us e-reader-readers (?), and normal plain text for people who would like to read it online!


message 12: by Sandy (new)

Sandy And Librivox has a free audio version and a free text version, and a feature which enables you to hear the page you are reading! Or you can just listen, or just eyeball-read!


message 13: by Renee, Mistress of the Mini-Challenge (last edited Nov 02, 2014 03:01AM) (new)

Renee M | 4727 comments Mod
I decided to reread along with you after all. This book is definitely worth reading again and again. Such a charming beginning! I love the way the two women meet in their club over the advertisement for the small Italian castle to-let for April. And the way the author peels them back to reveal their personal lives. They are both so human and so feminine in their thoughts.


message 14: by Sandy (new)

Sandy I have listened to two chapters and gone back to eyeball-read chapter 1. I think it will prove to be an interesting story. The first scene is quaint and inviting, but there is a hint that the story might offer a taste of the unorthodox.

The two women who have been introduced so far seem to be typical women of the time. Both conform to the stereotypical "female" roles of society, focusing their energy on "looking after" other people. They seem to be stealing a selfish moment by lounging at their club, reading the "Agony Column" (the purpose of which may be to cause agony?) dreaming of "the colour, the fragrance, the light, the soft lapping of the sea" at the castle on the Mediteranean.

What strikes me is the difference between the two women. Dowdy and awkward Mrs. Wilkins, who fades into the background and is not even noticed at parties because her husband is the "star" in social situations, has begun to want to escape the unhappy humdrum of daily life. In her enthusiasm and agitation, she actually dares to suggest -- aloud -- that it is acceptable for her to express this wish. How shocking!

On the other hand, Mrs. Arbuthnot is committed to her "compass points of God, Husband, Home and Duty" and denies her own unhappiness. Accustomed in her charity-work to "getting people into lists and divisions", she is quick to label Mrs. Wilkins as "unbalanced", "rudderless", and needing "advice" -- a classic case of "Nerves".

But Mrs. Wilkins has sown a seed, and Mrs. Arbuthnot proves to be fertile ground. The enthusiasm of Mrs. Wilkins is infectious, and Mrs. Arbuthnot is struggling to regain her own equilibrium in the face of this challenge. It is exciting to imagine what adventures await them.


message 15: by Renee, Mistress of the Mini-Challenge (new)

Renee M | 4727 comments Mod
The first time I read this I did not notice the publication date and never picked up on the fact that it was written in the Twenties. I still find the writing style, topic, characters to be quite modern. Although, as you say, Sandy, stereotypical in their selfless commitment to others before self. But the idea that they might want or need something more seems like something a contemporary author would imbue to her period characters. I just love that it was written back then!


message 16: by Amber (new)

Amber (amberterminatorofgoodreads) I have yet to start this and plan to as I'll be reading it for the 12 month reading challenge for my April book. sounds pretty good.


message 17: by Renee, Mistress of the Mini-Challenge (new)

Renee M | 4727 comments Mod
I'm really enjoying the Libivox reader, btw.


message 18: by Sandy (new)

Sandy Renee wrote: "The first time I read this I did not notice the publication date and never picked up on the fact that it was written in the Twenties. I still find the writing style, topic, characters to be quite m..."

I just assumed that von Arnim was among the early feminist writers (same generation as Willa Cather and Kate Chopin?).


message 19: by Sandy (new)

Sandy Renee wrote: "I'm really enjoying the Libivox reader, btw."

Yes, she is marvellous!


message 20: by Renee, Mistress of the Mini-Challenge (new)

Renee M | 4727 comments Mod
Honestly, I don't know much about Von Armin. But I'm feeling the need for a little research. :)


message 21: by Renee, Mistress of the Mini-Challenge (new)

Renee M | 4727 comments Mod
Von Arnim. I keep doing that. :p


message 22: by Renee, Mistress of the Mini-Challenge (new)

Renee M | 4727 comments Mod
Chapter 7 is hilarious!


message 23: by Sandy (last edited Nov 04, 2014 10:45AM) (new)

Sandy Not there yet, Renee. Just finished Chapter 6 yesterday.


message 24: by Sandy (new)

Sandy Poor Mrs. Fisher. So preoccupied with carving out her own territory and criticizing everyone else! Wah!


message 25: by Renee, Mistress of the Mini-Challenge (new)

Renee M | 4727 comments Mod
So deliciously human!


message 26: by Polly (new)

Polly Clarke | 56 comments Just picked this up from the library today. Looking forward to reading it (after I've read More Fool Me and Grimm Tales for Young and Old). Sounds like a treat!


message 27: by Srividya (new)

Srividya Vijapure (theinkedmermaid) | 221 comments I just started reading this book and am doing it the audiobook version through Librivox. First, I have to thank you all for making me pick up the audio version. This is the first time I am totally enjoying the narrator and not falling asleep or drifting away. Yay finally conquered the audio book world.

Am also reading the Kindle version side by side, just in case I miss out on something but till now, that's not happened. So am happy.

Okay now that I have got all the excitement of my 'virgin' audio experience out, I will move to discussing the story :)

I loved the way the two women have been described. They seem to be similar yet different. Mrs. Wilkins seemed like such a sad soul and definitely is, given the restrictions put on her by her husband but she is definitely a leader, deep down. I loved the way she enthusiastically lays the seed for thought into Mrs. Arbuthnot's mind and coaxes her into this expedition. I am totally looking forward to their exchanges in the later part of the book.

As for Mrs. Arbuthnot - I feel really sad for her, especially when she says "Its better to be needed than not to be". That is just so sad and I guess it explains why she puts herself completely into working for the poor.

Just read/heard Chapter 3 today and I found Mrs. Fisher really condescending. I mean, even Mrs. Arbuthnot did not really think very highly of Mrs. Wilkins but she never said it out loud and in fact even her thoughts were towards helping her, if indeed Mrs. Wilkins had a problem. Somehow, I could identify myself with that - because humans usually tend to keep themselves restrained from those that they feel are not like them. However, in the case of Mrs. Fisher, she was obnoxious when it came to throwing names and totally looked down upon Mrs. Wilkins. I loved the interplay though, it felt like I was cheering for Mrs. Wilkins, when at the end she said that it is not a business transaction, so we really need not get any references. Wow, I love the way her mind works and how she gets herself and Mrs. Arbuthnot out of these sticky situations. Makes me wonder what all she could have done, if she had not been stuck with a husband like Mr. Wilkins.

Am loving the writing style as well, it is certainly classic in that the words used and the expressions used, seem to be a part of those times. Of course, I am not well versed in the literature of that age but to my untrained ears and eyes, it feels good.

Am now moving onto the next chapter. Loving it totally!


message 28: by Renee, Mistress of the Mini-Challenge (new)

Renee M | 4727 comments Mod
So glad you're enjoying both the book and the reader, Srividya. I was just thinking how much I love this novel where nothing external happens. Except the trip itself. Everything is about internal changes and relationships. But I am riveted to every word, every time. :)


message 29: by Srividya (new)

Srividya Vijapure (theinkedmermaid) | 221 comments Oh yes Renee. It is riveting indeed. Am sure this will be one book that I will keep reading, every once in a while and I will never get tired of it.


message 30: by Amber (new)

Amber (amberterminatorofgoodreads) I'll be finishing it today. It's a pretty good read.


message 31: by Sandy (new)

Sandy Isn't it amazing how pleasant Mr. Wilkins has become? I think there is even hope for Mrs. Fisher. She is getting restless. Yay!


message 32: by Srividya (new)

Srividya Vijapure (theinkedmermaid) | 221 comments I am loving the way the four ladies are growing in their own ways.

I was totally irritated with Mrs. Fisher earlier, still am to tell the truth but somewhere I also feel sorry for her. If only she would warm up to Mrs. Wilkins.

I don't quite know what to make of Mr. Wilkins though. he has become extremely pleasant but somehow I feel him to be a big opportunist. I wonder how things will end with those two. I am hoping for a nice ending and not something where Mr. Wilkins goes back to being what he was!

Have reached chapter 19. Will finish by tomorrow. Am still doing it all audio and thoroughly loving the experience.


message 33: by Amber (new)

Amber (amberterminatorofgoodreads) I finished this one. It was a pretty good read.


message 34: by Renee, Mistress of the Mini-Challenge (new)

Renee M | 4727 comments Mod
Srividya-
I agree that watching the characters grow is one of the delights of this novel. I even like that the husbands are still themselves but their best selves. That's more realistic, I think. But, even so, they continue to grow right to the end and we're left feeling that there's no going back.


message 35: by Srividya (last edited Nov 12, 2014 05:24AM) (new)

Srividya Vijapure (theinkedmermaid) | 221 comments I just finished this one and totally loved it! Oh what a delight!

Renee - I totally agree with you. They were their best selves and I also doubt that there will be any going back. It left a big smile on my face at the end.

Renee - So realistic especially - (view spoiler)

I also loved Mrs. Fisher in the end and could forgive her totally for all her earlier comments and thoughts :)

I am now wondering whether the movie is available here in India. Would love to watch it.


message 36: by Dianne (new)

Dianne (dianeterry) | 37 comments I have added This to my list & have just been researching some of the books you are all reading, going to read that my to read list has grown again. I am so excited by my ever growing wish list, thanks to the group for the inspiration.


message 37: by Holly, That Geeky One (new)

Holly (hollycoulson) | 1949 comments Mod
Got this out the library today! :)


message 38: by Renee, Mistress of the Mini-Challenge (new)

Renee M | 4727 comments Mod
Oh I hope you can Srividya!

Iasa, you might try the movie, too. The photography is amazing. And the acting. It stays close to the book but emphasizes the humor more than the "sweetness."


message 39: by Cheryl (new)

Cheryl Schneider (cltschneider) | 76 comments I'm about 80% through this and had a hard time putting it down to go to sleep last night! Can't wait to find a quiet hour today to finish.


message 40: by Renee, Mistress of the Mini-Challenge (new)

Renee M | 4727 comments Mod
So...Any final thoughts? Have we finished? Are we ready to rent the movie and add that experience to our discussion?


Brenda (aka Gramma) | 278 comments I've only finished the first 7 chapters, but I'm liking it. I only started it because it's a group read, and I assumed it would be way too... sweet? girly? for me. I can see where it might end up that way, but I actually put it aside for a few days because it was making me think about sad things -- mostly from my mother's generation, but not all. Anyway, started it again last night more ready for it, and it made me laugh. Now I'm actually looking forward to doing some chores so I can listen to it (Nadia May is narrating, and nailing it).


message 42: by Becky (new)

Becky | 25 comments Love this book, Just a wonderful bit of 'classic' fiction.


message 43: by Sandy (new)

Sandy Yes, the movie does interest me. I will see if I can get it on Netflix.


message 44: by Becca (new)

Becca Tyler (scrappybec) | 294 comments For the most part I really liked this book because of development of interpersonal relationships. However, the ending left me flat. My first thought was "where's the rest of the book?"


message 45: by Renee, Mistress of the Mini-Challenge (new)

Renee M | 4727 comments Mod
Yes. I suppose the true ending depends on whether the reader is optimist or pessimist. ;-)


message 46: by Renee, Mistress of the Mini-Challenge (new)

Renee M | 4727 comments Mod
Switching to movie mode (although we can/should also talk about the book for those still finishing) Has anyone been able to get a copy? What did you think? Did they do a good job with the adaption? The casting? The photography?

I just loved Jeremy Broadbent as Freddy Arbuthnot!


message 47: by Becca (new)

Becca Tyler (scrappybec) | 294 comments Haven't watched yet, but it's available on Netflix and Amazon Prime.


message 48: by Sam (new)

Sam I downloaded this on my kindle, hoping to fit it in before the end of the month


message 49: by Renee, Mistress of the Mini-Challenge (new)

Renee M | 4727 comments Mod
Great, Guys! Hope you'll check in when you finish reading/watching. Love this book. :)


message 50: by Sam (new)

Sam I'm struggling to get into this one!


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