Into the Book


Ever had one of those days? One of those days where life in England is just rainy and gloomy and the summer can’t come fast enough? A day where, if given the chance, your nest egg would be given up just for some vacation time? A day where traveling to Italy to share a castle with people you don’t even know doesn’t seem like such a bad proposition? Yeah, Rose Arbuthnot and Lottie Wilkins are having one of those days.
The solution? Quite simple, actually: get together with some friends (the aging, proper Mrs. Fisher and the beautiful, sick-of-men Lady Caroline Denston) and set off for a spring visit to an Italian Castle. What could be better? So the women pack up, leaving their husbands behind (save for Mrs. Fisher, who’s widowed, and Lady Caroline, who is yet to be married) and set off for the beautiful, lush, Italian countryside.
And that’s basically all the plot. Four ladies are somewhat dissatisfied with their lot in life, so they take a vacation to relax in Italy for a month or so. The brilliance of this novel is not in the plot, but in the characters. Von Arnim plays her characters so well against each other that I, not too keen on dramas such as this, found myself drawn in by the interplay between them all. The book took a while to get moving, but once all the ladies are in Italy trying to relax and gripe at each other, I found myself hoping it would never end. Sadly, the ending came too soon, and I mean that. The main characters are well rounded, but the wrap-up at the end comes a bit too quickly and too easily. Of course, with a book called “The Enchanted April” I wasn’t expecting everyone to die or meet a tragic demise (this isn’t Shakespeare). However, with the crafting of the characters throughout the first half of the book, I expected a little something more from the ending.
Plot and characters aside, something must be said about the prose. It is beautiful, the way von Arnim describes the scenery and relates the happenings is like gazing at a masterpiece. There is such craft to this book (which, sadly, falls slightly apart at the end) that it alone makes this story definitely worth reading.
Therefore, if you are having a rainy afternoon in London (or anywhere), cheer up your day by joining four ladies in a lovely trip to an Italian castle. Doesn’t that sound enchanting?


Enjoyed the review? Pick up a copy yourself and support ItB:
The Enchanted April — Elizabeth von Arnim, $14.33

Published on 4 August, 2015. Last updated on

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