GROUP READ: The Enchanted April by Elizabeth von Arnim

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GROUP READ: The Enchanted April by Elizabeth von Arnim

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Apr. 4, 2013, 3:41pm

Hi! I haven't seen a thread yet for the April group read of The Enchanted April so hope it's okay to start one.

I'm about a third of the way through and still getting to know the characters. Right now, Mrs. Fisher is making me very angry! She's such a selfish so-and-so.

Anyone else reading this now?

Apr. 4, 2013, 3:51pm

Can anyone explain clubs to me? I've read of Men's Clubs and Women's Clubs before, but don't really understand what they're for. I'd thought they were social clubs, where men or women can get together with friends away from their husbands/wives, but it seems like there must be more to it than that. Mrs Wilkins doens't seem to have friends or acquaintances at her own club.

Apr. 4, 2013, 4:13pm

I'll probably read Enchanted April in a week or so when I finish some of the books sitting on my desk that have to go back to the library soon.

Apr. 4, 2013, 4:27pm

I don't know the answer to that question. I would like to know. Perhaps you can ask it on one of the bigger more active threads and see if anybody there knows the answer. If I don't see the question on one of the other threads I will ask it on the threads in which I participate and see if we can get an answer.

Bearbeitet: Apr. 4, 2013, 8:36pm

Here's a brief history of men's and women's clubs: Also, "gentlemen's club" is another one of those older words that means something totally different today.

For anyone who's interested in joining the group read but is having trouble tracking down a copy, The Enchanted April is available as a free Kindle ebook. You can read on your computer for free, if you don't have a Kindle.

The movie is delightful as well, although very much like the book, so don't watch it first unless you don't mind spoilers. A few months ago it was available through Netflix Watch Instantly, although I don't know if it still is.

Apr. 5, 2013, 10:54am

Finished this last night. Mrs Fisher is just a crabby pushy old woman, but the one that I really wonder about is Lady Caroline....But that is enough said until everyone else finishes I dont want to spoil anything for anyone.

Apr. 5, 2013, 11:32am

I, too, am a bit annoyed with Lady Caroline. I made the mistake of watching the movie (which I had seen in a theater) before I started the book but I already knew what would happen so it's not a spoiler. It's just better for me to get a picture of the characters in my mind before I see someone else's conception.

Apr. 5, 2013, 1:29pm

Thanks for the information on the clubs. I had no idea that Wikipedia would have such an entry. I have seen references to these establishments in all kinds of literature but was never sure what they were. This explains it. In particular the references to Allmack's in regency works always confounded me. Wonder if Wikipedia has an entry on that. *Trots off to look*

Apr. 5, 2013, 2:10pm

But I have to admit I was a bit disappointed in the ending.

Apr. 6, 2013, 5:46pm

Finished the book this afternoon. I enjoyed the descriptions of bella Italia very much. Usually I get tired of that sort of thing. I got VERY tired of Lottie and Mellersh Wilkins. He was a prig and a bore and I found her all-knowing blather annoying. I have to confess that I liked Rose best of the four. (Spoiler alert) I would have made her a widow and paired her up with the very nice Mr. Briggs.

Apr. 9, 2013, 12:16am

Just checking in, I haven't started the book yet, but hope to start it this week.

Apr. 14, 2013, 1:51pm

Spoiler Alert

I finished The Enchanted April yesterday and I am still angry! After getting invested in these characters, I felt very disappointed with the ending the author gave them. Back to England with basically nothing changed.

Apr. 15, 2013, 11:20am

5 - Casvelyn, thank you for link to the history of men's clubs.

von Arnim doesn't give a name to Lotty's club, but says it was 'an economical club, but convenient for Hampstead, where she lived, and for Shoolbred's, where she shopped.' I can see it as a place for Lotty to get away from home and Mellersh a bit, maybe for a quick meal before shopping and heading home. I wonder what would have been her connection with the other women, what thing they had in common, for them to be members of the same club.

12 - DeltaQueen, the ending was pretty much what I expected it to be. Everyone gets the love and companionship they were looking for. I don't think nothing has changed for them. They all see themselves and the others differently and are happier. I see more sunshine and flowers in their futures, even if they just stay in London, because they won't want to live in the same dreary atmosphere as before.

Apr. 16, 2013, 12:29am


#13 - I guess if you look at The Enchanted April as more of a fairy tale the ending works, but I got so invested in the two married characters that I felt they deserved better, there was no discussion of the marital problems, there was no real effort on the part of the husbands to try and understand their wives. In fact Rose's husband only came to Italy as he was chasing after another woman!

Bearbeitet: Apr. 16, 2013, 2:37pm

Spoilers ahead

14 - I think you're right. I do think of the story as more of a fairy tale. There was magic in the garden, and Lotty kept 'seeing' how things would be (although I think Lotty was also mostly a perceptive person.) I knew going in that this would be a light book where everything would work out for the best in the end and I wasn't expecting much more than that. The only ending I was iffy about was Caroline and Mr Brigg's. He was a 'grabber', but Caroline suddenly doesn't mind?

...end spoilers...

Is it me, or did it seem like any (or most, anyways) character development was from the outside in? The characters seemed to change to become how the others saw them, or came to see them. There was little change from the inside out.

Apr. 24, 2013, 4:44pm

Spoiler Alert
This was my review/opinion of the book. It was a nice read but not earth shattering or inventive.

The Enchanted April is exactly what the title describes. A month in Italy where the four main characters are "enchanted" during their stay at an old castle in San Salvatore. Each lady has her reasons for escaping London, although the horrid weather is the given excuse. Each wants to be alone with her thoughts, problems and loneliness. The stay in the Italian countryside gives them time to reflect on their problems away from their normal routines. Each eventually sees themselves as part of their own problems.

The novel wraps things up a bit neatly as most "romantic" type novels do, but I do like the bit at the end where both Mrs. Fisher and Mr. Melleresh Wilkins are horrified as Lotty calls Lady Caroline and Mr. Briggs, The Briggses Back to form so quickly and not even on British soil yet. What I found delightful was that Lotty didn't care what they thought. A trip to Italy might not be life changing for most, but it gave her a courage that was new for her.