Saturday, 10 September 2016

Review: The Enchanted April by Elizabeth Von Arnim

Title: The Enchanted April
Author: Elizabeth Von Arnim
Publisher: Vintage Classics
Pages: 304
Genres: Classics

The Enchanted April
Mrs Wilkins and Mrs Arbuthnot, cowed and neglected by their respective husbands, make a daring plan: they will have a holiday. Leaving a drab and rainy London one April and arriving on the shores of the Mediterranean, they discover a flower-filled paradise of beauty, warmth and leisure. Joined by the beautiful Lady Caroline and domineering Mrs Fisher, also in flight from the burdens of their daily lives, the four women proceed to transform themselves and their prospects.
The Enchanted April began quite strong and full of wry humour. Mrs. Arbuthnot and Mrs. Wilkins stumble upon each other one day as Mrs. Wilkins notices that they are both admiring the same advertisement in the newspaper. The advertisement is of San Salvatore, a castle in Italy, which is available to rent for one month in April. Dissatisfied with wet, gloomy London and their respective marriages - the two women decide to rent the castle and quickly advertise for two more ladies to share in the cost. The plot slowly stagnates from that point.

The writing style was not easy to follow as the author would often start a sentence and then in the middle would go off in a unrelated tangent for a paragraph - before finally finishing the second half of the original sentence. It was too jarring for me and I got impatient with it by the end. The whole book felt dated but there were some lovely illustrations and descriptions of nature if nothing else. The tone was very uplifting and happy but I found it unfortunately dull as little happened.

This is definitely a book about the first world problems of the middle to upper classes of the time which I didn't really find relatable or endearing at all. Heaven forbid, their financially comfortable lives are so dull that they had the option to justify spending what is the equivalent of £2500 in today's money to rent a castle in Italy (not including servant wages and food, of course!), because they just can't handle their terrible lives anymore. My heart just bleeds in sympathy.

By the end I found it silly and ridiculous. The Enchanted April would suit readers who can look past the superficiality and are able to just appreciate it for what it is, simple and twee.


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