Archive for July 20th, 2010


The Enchanted April

July 20, 2010

Thanks to Mystrygirl87 for pointing me in the direction of The Enchanted April, by Elizabeth von Arnim. It’s exactly the sort of book I like–or at least it should be. I started out by loving it, and finished by finding it kind of frustrating.

The Enchanted April is the story of four unhappy women who rent an Italian castle together for a month. Lottie Wilkins is shy and nervous and stifled, and knows it. Rose Arbuthnot is stifled too, but doesn’t know it–she’s been using religion as a substitute for happiness, so admitting that she’s unhappy would require admitting that religion isn’t sufficient to make her happy, and obviously that won’t do.

The two of them find the advertisement for the castle — placed by its owner, a Mr. Briggs — together, and advertise in turn for a couple of housemates. They find Mrs. Fisher, an elderly lady who apparently does nothing but reminisce about the days when she knew Ruskin and Tennyson and Carlyle; and Lady Caroline Dester, who spends most of her time being irritated that people won’t leave her alone because she’s so beautiful. Sure, Caroline, that’s a terrible problem. I mean, I get the wanting to be left alone bit. People are frequently irritating. But, on a list of irritating habits (ranked by irritatingness, if that’s a word) complaining about how being stunningly beautiful has ruined your life is going to be pretty high up on the page. Read the rest of this entry ?