Wanted: Friendship and Sunshine- “The Enchanted April” by Elizabeth von Armin

May 20, 2012 at 9:03 pm 8 comments

The Enchanted April” by Elizabeth von Arnim, Published in 1920

This is a lovely, languid read.  In fact, I think it would be a great “summer read” – not the traditional fluff that is considered a good beach read but I do think if the reader is sitting somewhere beautiful then it would make this book all the better.

It all begins with Ms. Lotty Wilkins in a London Women’s Club, post WWI, and coming across an advertisement.  It is an advertisement to rent an Italian Castle for the month of April and it begins with the line “To Those Who Appreciate Wisteria and Sunshine.”  Poor Lotty, sitting in rainy, dismal England, begins to dream about escaping her loveless marriage and her life of duty, for just one month, in beautiful Italy.  In her desperation she approaches a woman, who she has seen at church but never spoken to, Rose Arbuthnot, and asks her if she would rent the castle with her. Lotty argues”why, it would really be being unselfish to go away and be happy for a little, because we would come back so much nicer.  You see, after a bit everybody needs a holiday.”

Rose is also leading a life of duty while married to a man who has become bored with her virtue and judgments.  At first she finds Lotty’s plan ridiculous but then begins thinking about a month away on the Italian Mediterranean coast amongst the wisteria.  And so the two women plot their April escape.  They find that they cannot afford the castle alone so they add two other strangers – Lady Caroline, a rich, spoiled and stunning beauty ,and Mrs. Fischer, an old, cantankerous woman whose opinions are quite frequently shared and quickly disregarded.

The foursome find themselves in a beautiful castle in San Salvatore, Italy, with gardens and peacefulness.   But most importantly for once in their lives there are no expectations of who they are supposed to be or what they are supposed to do.  This allows the women to find their hearts again and focus on the things that truly matter to them.  Even stodgy Mrs. Fisher finds herself transformed and revived by realizing that standing on ceremony is often pointless and, more importantly, lonely.  As they all begin to piece together what true happiness is they form lasting friendship which have been life-changing from their first day together.

This book is not action packed nor it is necessarily quick-witted – though there is some really fun witty repartee.  It moves slowly and the reader feels like they are sitting in the Italian gardens around the castle soaking in the sunshine with the characters –  which is perfect.  Really, we all need a little wisteria and sunshine now and again.

Wisteria in Bloom Wisteria Sinensis

Wisteria in Bloom Wisteria Sinensis (Photo credit: Wikipedia)


Entry filed under: May 2012 reads. Tags: , , , , .

After all, the main character is named after a flower – “The Crowning Glory of Calla Lily Ponder” by Rebecca Wells A threesome (of suspense novels that is)

8 Comments Add your own

  • 1. hopesquires  |  May 20, 2012 at 9:22 pm

    Thanks for a little wisteria and sunshine today and for reminding me of a lovely book I read and enjoyed many years ago.

    • 2. Emily C  |  May 20, 2012 at 9:41 pm

      I am glad to hear from someone else who enjoyed the book!! Have a great week.

  • 3. Kathy  |  May 20, 2012 at 9:27 pm

    I love the film adaptation of this book. Thank you for pointing me toward the novel.

    • 4. Emily C  |  May 20, 2012 at 9:42 pm

      I just watched the film today and I enjoyed it – it did a pretty good job of capturing the book. I hope you will like the book, you will have to let me know. Happy reading!!

  • 5. Claire 'Word by Word'  |  May 21, 2012 at 3:17 am

    Sounds like a cosy read for a rainy day as well, can already imagine it as a film. Nice change against all the fast paced tension that is currently popular.

    I think there is a need for this kind of book, a bit of the balancing effect. Loved your review, it was like reading an excellent blurb for a film I have already picked out, now just to enjoy it 🙂

  • 6. Claire 'Word by Word'  |  May 21, 2012 at 3:17 am

    Ok, now I see in the comments that it already a film 🙂

    • 7. Emily C  |  May 21, 2012 at 5:30 pm

      The movie is good but the book is even better. So now you can read the book and then watch the movie. Which is what I did. I agree, it was refreshing and really a nice balance to all of the other modern books I have been reading lately.

  • 8. Emily C  |  May 21, 2012 at 5:38 pm

    This was just posted on NPR today – apparently this book was a very popular read this month – http://www.npr.org/2012/05/21/149549005/elizabeth-von-arnim-s-enchanted-april


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There is some great literature out there, but there is a lot of bad literature as well. We shouldn't all have to read it. These are my recommendations and thoughts about the books I read.


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