The Enchanted April: book review
Author: Elizabeth von Arnim
Genre: Classics, Romance, Literary Fiction
I will try to keep this review short and sweet, just the way the book was! The Enchanted April by Elizabeth von Arnim is the perfect book for April, it really is enchanted! It will definitely make you feel warm and hopeful about the upcoming season. It is full of flowers, scents, views and so much fun! Just read the blurb, this one:
‘A recipe for happiness: four women, one medieval Italian castle, plenty of wisteria, and solitude as needed.
The women at the centre of The Enchanted April are alike only in their dissatisfaction with their everyday lives. They find each other—and the castle of their dreams—through a classified ad in a London newspaper one rainy February afternoon. The ladies expect a pleasant holiday, but they don’t anticipate that the month they spend in Portofino will reintroduce them to their true natures and reacquaint them with joy. Now, if the same transformation can be worked on their husbands and lovers, the enchantment will be complete.’
The author’s style of writing is unique and so distinctive. She manages to transport you ‘there’, wherever the characters are, and makes the transition so smooth and unnoticeable that suddenly you realise there has been a change of scenery. I felt as one of the characters at all times, as if I were sitting with them in the rooms or terraces, sipping tea and silently enjoying my time at the mediaeval Italian castle. There was a perfect balance in dedicating time to tell everyone’s story and this definitely prevented the plot to become too boring or repetitive. When exploring their stories, she takes us on each journey and we witness the events happening right in front of us, which brings the characters even closer to the reader.
In terms of the actual plot, there’s not much action happening. To summarise,
‘The discreet advertisement in The Times, addressed ‘To Those who Appreciate Wistaria and Sunshine’, offers a small medieval castle for rent, above a bay on the Italian Riviera. Four very different women – the dishevelled and downtrodden Mrs Wilkins, the sad, sweet-faced Mrs Arbuthnot, the formidable widow Mrs Fisher and the ravishing socialite Lady Caroline Dester, are drawn to the shores of the Mediterranean that April. As each, in turn, blossoms in the warmth of the Italian spring and finds their spirits stirring, quite unexpected changes occur.
The Enchanted April, published in 1922, is a witty and delightful depiction of what it is like to rediscover joy.’
The four women make the hard but necessary decision to leave their husbands or life behind only for a month, and go on vacation, something they haven’t done for themselves but desperately need to do. Most of the novel centres around the inner worlds of the women and their behaviour, their thoughts and deepest fears and desires. All the characters are so vivid and colourful, they’re full of life and hope. Through humour and witty dialogues the author builds something very sweet and tender. It’s an exploration of the human nature, a story about relationships, about our deepest desires and the changes we go through in search of our inner self. The novel reminds us of why it is important to notice and enjoy the small things in life, to live life to the fullest and to be present then and there.
A hidden gem which definitely deserves to be discovered by more readers and I’m happy I can share some of its delight! Read it, you won’t regret it!
In case you need me… #owlbeereading!