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March Goes Out Like A Lamb! 

   
 

The Enchanted April

   

 

  

 

To Those who Appreciate Wistaria and Sunshine. Small medieval Italian Castle on the shores of the Mediterranean to be Let Furnished for the month of April….Box 1000, The Times

Mrs. Arbuthnot and Mrs. Wilkins separately see the classified advertisement in The Times on a miserably rainy February day in London while at their club.  They are both having marital problems of a sort and caught up in their own particular unhappinesses, but join forces.  "Having got San Salvatore - the beautiful, the religious name, fascinated them - they in their turn would advertise in the Agony Column of The Times, and they would inquire after two more ladies, of similar desire to their own, to join them and share the expenses."  They find the two women they are looking for: Lady Caroline, a young beauty, and Mrs. Fisher, older and still dreaming of Victorian times.  In a nutshell - four English women who are strangers share a castle with a beautiful garden in the Italian April and find the recipe for happiness. 

In 1891, Elizabeth von Arnim married a Count (her first husband - she later married Earl Russell), lived on his estate in Pomerania with their five children, and even hired E. M. Forster and Hugh Walpole as tutors.  Perhaps this garden in San Salvatore that von Arnim describes with such luxuriant efflorescence gives the women the pleasure she had in her own garden, the garden of Elizabeth and her German Garden, the book which made her famous. 

All the radiance of April in Italy lay gathered together at her feet. The sun poured in on her. The sea lay asleep in it, hardly stirring. Across the bay the lovely mountains, exquisitely different in color, were asleep too in the light; and underneath her window, at the bottom of the flower-starred grass slope from which the wall of the castle rose up, was a great cypress, cutting through the delicate blues and violets and rose-colors of the mountains and the seas like a great black sword.

It is a novel about the sun, about flowers and beauty, about sensuality and joy, but all done with a deft hand, a light touch that saves it from chocolate-box sentimentality.  Von Arnim was after all, a famous wit, and Walpole is said to have written to a friend:
The Countess is a complete enigma. I don't see much of her but, when I do, she has three moods (1) Charming, like her books only more so (this does not appear often). (2) Ragging. Now she is unmerciful - attacks you on every side, goes at you until you are reduced to idiocy, and then drops you, limp. (3) Silence. This is most terrible of all… 

In this novel all one sees is the first mood - it is, completely, charming!  And the perfect way to usher March out, and welcome April!  

 

Read: The Enchanted April, Elizabeth von Arnim

The DVD of the equally enchanting 1992 film will be released in the US shortly. 

  

 

 

 


       
 

 
       
     

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