The Enchanted April by Elizabeth Von Arnim

Enchanted April

It feels so strange to be writing this post as I haven’t blogged in a year now – how did that happen? I can only say that 2017 was a year of readjustment for me. After having been diagnosed with cancer in December 2016 and receiving treatment at the beginning of 2017 it’s been a bit of an emotional and thoughtful year for me. Reading was not my top priority for a few months, however, I did get back into the swing of things and managed to read 60 books last year. But – I didn’t feel like writing about them except for small snippets on my Instagram page. Though I still feel somewhat shell-shocked by my ordeal (the emotional side effects are strange and powerful) I feel that I am ready to return to blogging in 2018.

My previous blog, Gudrun’s Tights, has permanently gone away and, sadly, I didn’t save any photos that I had posted over the years so all the photos that I transferred here are now gone as well. At first I was kicking myself for not backing up my work, but now I feel that it is somehow fitting. The past is the past – and I’m leaving it there! But I’m sorry if this blog looks a little bland – I’ll soon remedy that.

So, on to my first post of 2018 and it is about a book that I’ve tried to read several times over the years without success. Despite loving the film, I’ve always had such a hard time with The Enchanted April. I’ve found it sluggish and confusing. As a fan of Elizabeth Von Arnim I can only think that the reason I couldn’t finish it on my previous attempts was because it was known that I’d need the book now.

Most of you probably know the story – four women, previously unknown to each other, rent a castle in Italy for the month of April. They all suffer from various emotional struggles whether it’s boredom, unhappiness in marriage, too much male attention or loneliness. Almost immediately after they arrive at San Salvatore one of the women, Lotty, senses the healing powers of the location, of its flowers and plants and in being near the sea and from just being away from dreary, rainy London. And she blossoms. She really becomes a happier, more content, incredibly loving person, able to read the moods of her fellow travelers and help them to also let San Salvatore heal their wounds.

I think the book is funny and warm and lovely. In this equally dreary month of January I found it to be the balm I needed to relieve winter melancholy. I loved the characters and their desire to “find themselves” but I also loved that Von Arnim didn’t have them ditch their husbands or their old lives. It’s very much a fairy tale about rekindling the romance in a marriage and finding that one true love or the kindred friends who understand and support you.

The end of the book sees everyone off with their needs met and their hearts cheerful, but I did wonder – will their transformation survive when they get back to London? I truly hope so and I like to believe that they carry on loving and caring long after the book ends.

Have you read The Enchanted April?

Now, I’m on to Testament of Friendship by Vera Brittain and I’ve also got Winter by Ali Smith on the TBR. What are you reading?

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30 thoughts on “The Enchanted April by Elizabeth Von Arnim

  1. Anbolyn, what a shock, I had fondly imagined you were just too busy having a good time. I do hope that everything will go well for you in the future. I think you’re right about The Enchanted April, I love it and surely there was a reason why you weren’t able to appreciate it when you first read it. I’m glad it helped you. It’s great to see you back!

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  2. *So* sorry to hear about the health issues – I had no idea, but hopefully you are physically mended now, even if the psychological effects are still hanging around. As for this book, I read it last year and it’s a joy – such a wonderful book and like you I hoped the characters would hang on to what they had found when they returned home.

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  3. Hello,
    You didn’t say why the book was difficult for you. I also saw the movie and loved it. I was thinking of getting the book but I wondered what your struggles were.

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  4. So wonderful to see you posting again – you have been missed! I can only imagine how difficult the last year has been. I am grateful that you are here, and I hope that you are & will continue to be well.
    This book was my introduction to Elizabeth von Arnim, and it is still one of my favorites. But I know so well the feeling of “unreadiness’ with a book. I’m just now reading one that I’ve started at least twice before. I kept it on the shelves because I thought its time would come – and it has.

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  5. It’s lovely to see a new post from you. I’m sorry you’ve been through such a difficult time and I hope 2018 will be a happier year for you.
    The Enchanted April is the only Elizabeth von Arnim book I’ve read and I remember enjoying it. It’s a great way to escape from the dreariness of winter!

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    • Thanks, Helen! So far 2018 has been great. I am a huge EVA fan and love so many of her books, but The Enchanted April just has that extra magic that makes it really stand out.

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  6. Anbolyn, I had no idea you were going through such a thing. Are you well now? Sending so many good thoughts and a hug.

    (I am jealous of your Brittain title. I need to return to her.) xx

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      • Mine too. This thread inspired me to pick up another by her — Chronicles of Youth. I’m LOVING it.

        Glad to hear you are on the mend. ❤ x

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  7. I’ve become very lapsed with blogging myself, both in maintaining my own and in commenting on/ interacting with others’ blogs, but was very happy to see a new post from you show up in my feed. I’m so sorry to hear about what you were going through last year. I hope your recovery is going well.

    I read Enchanted April years ago, before I became familiar with von Arnim through the book blog world. I’ve since read couple of her other novels and want to revisit this one at some point. I hope you enjoy Testament of Friendship. Vera Brittain is one of my favorites! When I was in London last spring, I tracked down the blue plaque that marks the house she and Winifred Holtby lived in together.

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    • My recovery is going very well – no problems and I am cancer free!
      How wonderful that you saw the Brittain/Holtby blue plaque! I will have to seek that out on my next trip to London. I really loved Testament of Youth and Testament of Friendship is great so far as well.

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  8. von Arnim is a recent introduction to me and I started by reading The Curate’s Wife which I thought was very odd then went on to read The Enchanted April which I enjoyed enormously. Today I have recieved (by the same author) Love, and Vera.
    I don hope that your recovery will allow you to continue blogging, you were missed.

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  9. It is wonderful to hear from you and that after an emotional year you feel better enough to return to blogging. 🙂
    I am currently reading historical fiction The Plague Charmer by Karen Maitland and Christian non-fiction The Case for Grace by Lee Strobel. Happy reading!

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  10. It’s funny (and wonderful) how our feelings towards books can change as we do. I’ve been calling this my least favourite von Arnim for years but you’ve made me think I should go back in search of its charms rather than its failings. Thank you for that and welcome back!

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  11. I’m so sorry to read about your cancer. I hope you are on the mend. I can’t image what you must have gone through. I was a huge fan of your other blog and am overjoyed that there is a new post. I have not read The Enchanted April so I think I will add it to my growing TBR pile. 🙂 Best wishes for your health and a very wonderful 2018!!!!

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  12. So sorry to hear of your ill health but glad to know that you’re well & reading. I read TEA many years ago & need to read some of the unread EVAs on the tbr shelves. I reread TOF a couple of years ago & enjoyed it very much. I’ve read lots of Brittain & Holtby, fascinating women. Did you notice that VB modelled the opening of TOF on the beginning of Elizabeth Gaskell’s Life of Charlotte Bronte? I read both of them around the same time & was really struck by the parallels. Looking forward to reading your thoughts.

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  13. I’m sorry to hear this, Anbolyn. Happy to hear you’re getting back to yourself and everything is okay. It’s good to see you. I loved The Enchanted April from the first so found your journey with it interesting to read. Your question about their lives once back, I wondered that too. The dreamy holiday thing. I’m reading Americanah and a 1700s book. The first is a lot better but the reading itself of both is good.

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  14. Hi, I’d noticed your book posting was less frequent but had not idea you had not been well. So sorry to hear but delighted you are posting again and hope you will feel much better soon. Nicola x

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