A recipe for happiness four women one medieval Italian castle plenty of wisteria and solitude as neededThe women at the center 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 reacuaint them with joy Now if the same transformation can be worked on their husbands and lovers the enchantment will be complete The Enchanted April was a best seller in both England and the United States where it was a Book of the Month Club selection and set off a craze for tourism to Portofino More recently the novel has been the inspiration for a major film and a Broadway play


10 thoughts on “The Enchanted April

  1. says:

    June 2012Dissatisfied with their respective lots in life four English women divorce their respective husbands get a hefty advance for a book deal and go off to Italy to enjoy the wisteria a kind of pasta I think After a month of wisteria and freesias and syringa pasta? the women all go to India where they become spiritual Following that they go to Bali and take handsome exotic Indonesian men as lovers When they return home wiser and enlightened than before they write wise and enlightened booksWait what? What was that? They don't go to Indonesia? Or India? They don't take lovers or become prayer tourists? They just take a month long vacation in an Italian castle and they don't divorce their respective husbands? Their respective husbands later join them on their vacation? A WISTERIA IS A KIND OF FLOWER? WHAT THE HELL KIND OF BOOK IS THIS?A very delightful one actually You should read it


  2. says:

    Four proper English ladies who don't know each other at all decide to pool their resources and rent an Italian villa for a month in the 1920's They all have different personalities and there are some conflicting expectations To make matters worse view spoilerthe husband of one of the women who has had an estranged marriage shows up pursuing one of the other women without realizing his wife is another of the guests hide spoiler


  3. says:

    Elizabeth von Arnim strikes me as an interesting character A writer brought up in influential circles she married no less than five times in her life and also enjoyed an affair with writer HG Wells after he ended his own affair with Von Arnim's rival Rebecca West When one of von Arnim's disastrous marriages ended in 1921 she decided to spend a month at Italian castello Portofino as a way to clear her head The idea for her classic book The Enchanted April has been born Von Arnim had the book published in 1922 and today it merits inclusion in Erica Bauermeister's book 500 Great Books by Women This book is as charming as the spell cast by Portofino castle and is still widely read today Lotty Wilkins and Rose Arbuthnot lived a life of relative obscurity in the Hampstead section of London Both were virtually ignored by their husbands and had the longing to get away from it all One day Lotty Wilkins noticed an advertisement in the Times to rent an Italian villa named San Salvatore in April for £ 60 Mesmerized by the idea but not wanting to spend her entire nest egg on the castle she recruits Arbuthnot to join her Later the women ask Lady Caroline Dester and a Mrs Fisher to join them as well making the pair into a foursome and importantly making the castle rental into an affordable getaway Even though Wilkins and Arbuthnot made the initial arrangements Mrs Fisher and Lady Caroline shrewdly arrive at the castle first to claim the better rooms for themselves The latter two women enjoy a higher standard of living than the former and want to ensure that they have an enjoyable holiday Almost instantaneously San Salvatore works its magic on all four women An air of happiness overtakes them and rather than being bitter with their station in life they talk of love being in the air Wilkins and Arbuthnot originally came to the castle to get away from their husbands but within a week both women write their husbands asking them to join them in this enchanting setting Within the month all four women are the best of friends although this takes time especially with Mrs Fisher I thought the writing was basic yet descriptive and the plot to be straightforward with few twists and turns along the way Von Arnim was writing from personal experience and recreated the Portofino castello where she enjoyed a monthlong holiday This book was originally published within a year of her excursion so the memories were fresh especially the descriptions of the sea air and ever changing flowers These descriptions of time and place ended up working for me much better than the plot developments While Von Arnim's novel is considered her greatest book it did not captivate me completely I enjoyed the seaside setting of the Italian castle but I enjoy a complex plot of intrigue as well as multilayered character development The ladies here while pleasant do not pack the punch for me as protagonists although I give them much credit especially in their era for desiring a holiday independent of their husbands The Enchanted April was a pleasant read for a lazy summer afternoon I am sure the castle itself would have cast its spell on me as it did the ladies in this book but the novel will not be an all time favorite for me Still The Enchanted April is a worthwhile read which I rate 35 stars


  4. says:

    I was to have been in Italy right now Flights accommodation gallery tickets all were booked months ago I had even chosen books to take along So much faith in April being exactly how I'd planned seems innocent now And holidays have become unimportant—they are frills I can easily live without In fact I've discovered I can live without a lot of things I used to think were essential visiting friends for example going for long walks browsing in bookshops eating out Eating at home has changed too as we rely and on food deliveries which never contain uite what was ordered I've become very good at doing without certain ingredients and using others in their place Instead of the long walks I loved I walk in the garden now though it's uite a tiny space Never before have I paid so much attention to every sprouting tendril on the climbing plants every hint of a bud The simplest things thrill me such as spotting that the wisteria that was planted three years ago and which had never yet flowered looks like it finally will I can identify bird species than I knew existed in my part of the world and I've begun to recognise their calls Instead of feeling imprisoned during this uarantine time it's as if my life has opened up The garden makes me feel good it even makes me feel exuberantOne thing that hasn't changed in my life is reading—I probably own enough books to see me through many uarantine seasons I didn't own The Enchanted April though in spite of having wished to read it in the past When a friend reviewed it last week it struck me as just the book I needed right now so I got it as an ebook The plot of this novel concerns a holiday in Italy in April and the story features a garden full of beautiful plants including wisteria I enjoyed the book a lot In fact I enjoyed it so much that I downloaded another book by Elizabeth Von Armin immediately on finishing The second book Elizabeth and Her German Garden is a kind of memoir of a garden she owned at one point in her life After reading it I understood why the garden in The Enchanted April played such a big role And I appreciated the character called Lotty Wilkins even than I did initially—there's a lot of Elizabeth Von Armin in Lotty It's in her delight in flowers in her unusual forthrightness and in her wonderfully exuberant personality I really enjoyed Lotty


  5. says:

    You can't best a good old holiday in warmer climates but for the four ladies at the heart of Elizabeth von Arnim's 1922 novel there is to it than that The story is both a triumph to the transformative power of travel and charmed with a decorative feel like that of a sun kissed fairytale von Arnim certainly cast a spell over me and although we may only be talking of the Italian coast it really felt like being whisked further away enraptured in another world Four very different women in terms of age and attitudes respond to an advertisement in the Times appealing to those who appreciate wisteria and sunshine to come and rent a small medieval Italian castle for a month That month being April of course The two original two respondents Mrs Wilkins and Mrs Arbuthnot are joined in their escapism by the youthful Lady Caroline whose beauty and general melodiousness have become something of a burden to her and the formidable Mrs Fisher who first appears a bit of a grouch but she slowly succumbs to the pleasant environment after initially insisting the other guests think of her as just as an old lady with a stick She sets about imposing her will on the rest which makes up just one part of the story Each lady is vaguely unsatisfied with their lot and Mrs Wilkins and Mrs Arbuthnot both have marriages of uiet English unhappiness but that is about to change as both husbands are invited to come and stay and it's this holiday reunion that sparks a deeper love not just for the wives and husbands but something is opened up in all of themElizabeth Von Arnim has a keen eye for small human failings the little acts of pettiness and selfishness in which most people indulge She is perceptive about the way people misread one another's good and not so good intentions and the early chapters read like a comedy of miscommunication I felt it wasn't until the second half that the novel really shines the characters seem fuller growing on you like a petite garden flower She also perhaps not surprisingly given her famed German garden revels in the descriptions of the castle grounds and their beauty and colour like reading a vivid painting as literature Everything is centred on the castle and guests there are no outside influences creating it's own little world of delight The surroundings really do rub off on the women they eventually start to wake up shifting in the perceptions of love and lifeWhen I think back to how the novel opened with misery and cold rain by the time I reached it's happy finale all was forgotten The story was both humorous and wise with a wisp of a premise but von Arnim's brilliant writing transforms it into something much a possible satire on post WWI British society a sardonic rumination on human foibles and a tale of women coming into their own And most impressive of all she makes it look effortless The four main characters are precisely drawn and their transformation during this break works it's way into the reader you can't help feel but a rapturous joy in their presenceIt is written in a way that evokes geniality without dipping her toes into the waters of sentimentality which is a testament to her talent as a writer And it's sweet pleasant temperament and light hearted nature made for an easy comfortable read in fact had it been any lighter in tone one could read this whilst the book floats in mid air This would be an ideal candidate for that 'holiday book' whilst relaxing by the sea with a slightly chilled chianti On holiday reading of a holiday perfect fit sadly I had to settle for the Parisian suburbs But not to worry von Arnim brings the holiday to you in the comfort of your own home


  6. says:

    This was a delightful little story Four women previously unknown to one another leave a dreary winter in England behind to take a one month April holiday in a small charming Italian castle after responding to an advertisement in a newspaper The descriptions of the landscape are very lush and made me wish that I could make such an escape myself after a seemingly never ending winter “By the end of the week the fig trees were giving shade the plum blossom was out among the olives the modest weigelias appeared in their fresh pink clothes and on the rocks sprawled masses of thick leaved star shaped flowers some vivid purple and some a clear pale lemon”The novel is also sprinkled with humor throughout as the four very different personalities either bluntly clash with one another or surreptitiously try to avoid one or another of the group I often found myself smiling at some of their little antics and remarks Each woman begins with her own struggle discontent and preconceived notions of what is expected of her as a female member of societyLotty Wilkins who is the first to embrace the charms of Italy and is the uintessential transformed spirit in the novel begins her journey as one who really has very little confidence in herself “Her clothes infested by thrift made her practically invisible; her face was non arresting; her conversation was reluctant; she was shy” Rose Arbuthnot the religious and charitable but lonely wife is initially described “Steadfast as the points of the compass to Mrs Arbuthnot were the great four facts of life God Husband Home Duty Frederick had been the kind of husband whose wife betakes herself early to the feet of God From him to them had been a short though painful step”Mrs Fisher the elderly widow who leaves England for Italy with the notion that “Hardly anything was really worth while except the past She had not come away from these friends in London these conversable ripe friends in order to spend her time in Italy chatting with three persons of another generation and defective experience; she had come away merely to avoid the treacheries of a London April”And finally the beautiful unattached Lady Caroline never without a suitor to her own exasperation believes “Worse than jokes in the morning did she hate the idea of husbands” She wishes to be left completely alone and yet she seems to attract everyone to her; and her coldness and biting remarks towards others is unnoticed due to her overwhelming beauty “People were exactly like flies She wished there were nets for keeping them off too She hit at them with words and frowns and like the fly they slipped between her blows and were untouched”Ultimately no one is immune to the enchantments of Italy and companionship and each undergo their own individual transformations They learn the value of friendship and that “Beauty made you love and love made you beautiful”Perhaps one would say that this book was too neat and tidy maybe a bit unrealistic However I felt it was a breath of fresh air and a great reminder that a little respite and new acuaintances can help immensely to renew a dampened spirit


  7. says:

    “All down the stone steps on either side were periwinkles in full flower and she could now see what it was that had caught at her the night before and brushed wet and scented across her face It was wistaria Wistaria and sunshine”This was a lovely book about four English women who answer an advertisement to rent an Italian chateau in San SalvatoreItaly during a dismal April in England The advertisement seems to be a godsend to these women whose lives are not going the way they had hoped As the title word “enchanted” implies the story does have a slight fairytale like aura to it but not annoyingly soI wasn’t expecting to enjoy this book so much on the outset it looked like it would be an extremely slow read However it turned out to be very enjoyable Elizabeth Von Armin is a masterful storyteller Her writing is beautiful and witty Also for a floraphile such as myself her descriptions of flowers were heavenly“The wistaria was tumbling over itself in its excess of life its prodigality of flowering; and where the pergola ended the sun blazed on scarlet geraniums bushes of them and nasturtiums in great heaps and marigolds so brilliant that they seemed to be burning and red and pink snapdragons all outdoing each other in bright fierce colour”Additionally as a person whose life has been changed by travel I think this book is a great advertisement for travelling to renew your soul and learn about yourself and othersMy first Von Armin and it definitely won’t be my last Highly recommended


  8. says:

    This was so mesmerizing and lovely I had heard of the movie and knew vaguely what it was about but I didn't realize it was first a book until recently Why? Everything that is any good is always first a book Four women seek a vacation in Italy to get away from a dreary soggy London April in Italy sounds like a precious dream and it is Each lady is miserable and alone in their own ways even though two of them are marriedOnce it seems that the dream might become reality they start to awaken to what life could be if they only allow it to be This is a perfect novel funny and sweet and tender hearted about us silly humans


  9. says:

    Much like the film this book by Elizabeth Von Arnim inspired there is something peaceful here on these pages This is a gentle novel about gradual internal changes brought about by the beauty of our surroundings It is a book that reads itself as much as it is read the author writing with the flow of the characters' thoughts and feelings as their hearts are changed by the surprise of beautyAn ad to rent a castle in San Salvatore on the Italian Riviera will prompt two British women of slight acuaintance named Rose and Lottie to inexplicably leave their husbands behind for a summer that will change their lives and their marriages forever Joining Rose and Lottie for this holiday is Mrs Fisher an older woman living in the past and Lady Caroline Dester a gray eyed society beauty tired of being gawked at like a majestic statue Diverse in nature and temperament not to mention background the three women interact uneasily together until flowers and the sea bring about a change in their very soulsSurrounded by fig and olive trees plum blossoms and Tamarisk daphnes and the fragrance of fortune's yellow rose and blooming acacias the women begin to discover their roles at this castle by the sea and in doing so find themselves as wellThis is a novel about life and love told gently through the emotions of these women as the surprise of beauty and the warmth of being suddenly admired and seen as beautiful when they had not been before changes their simple lives which were not so simple at allA peaceful yet breathtaking portrait of love is painted by the author in a pleasing and gentle manner readers will find enchanting A beautiful read on paper one that refreshes the soul and calms the spirit It is about love restored and love discovered along the wistaria covered steps leading down to the sea You will definitely enjoy this novel if you enjoyed the lovely film it inspired


  10. says:

    I'm not sure I have enough wonderful adjectives for this little novel In this time of bad news all around the globe travel restrictions event cancellations panicked people buying up hand sanitizer and whatever else will see them through this turned out to be the perfect novel at the perfect time Through the magic of words I spent the month of April in a medieval castle on the coast of Italy with four ladies not previously known to each other Each with her own problems and need to get away for a while each with her own pre conceived ideas of how life should be lived each of whom came under the spell of the gardens and magic of San Salvatore This was also a novel for which the phrase comedy of errors surely was invented I laughed my way through each chapter at the dialogue and thoughts of everyone involved from visitors and husbands and servants to the ladies themselves A delightful respite for readers who appreciate wistaria and sunshine For those who have never read Elizabeth von Arnim do yourself a favor and pick up one of her books This is the third one I've read and she is a balm to the soul