The Enchanted April, Elizabeth von Arnim
Another delighful novel of this prolific Australian author I love so much…
I practice Linguistic Empathy and I expect you to do the same. Please bear with me if my English is not perfect.
I bought The Enchanted April by Elizabeth von Arnim because I had read somewhere that it talked about a house. A castle, to be precise. In Italy (I am not a partisan, but I know how beautiful Italy is :-)). And because I have a big fixation on houses in any field, including literature, I went ahead.
I just finished reading it, and I must say it has charmed and entertained me like few other novels have done recently.
The Enchanted April develops a simple story: an English lady is struck by an ad that offers an Italian medieval castle for rent for a month, and gathers the courage to talk about it to a neighbour she hardly knows, asking her to share the castle. This neighbour lets herself be convinced, and all the two need is to find two more companions to share the rent.
In modern times we would have searched in FB groups. They used what they had at their disposal, newspaper ads and letters. The group of four women is quickly formed, and off they go to settle in the castle for the enchanted April that the ad promises.
What fascinated me from the very beginning is that despite being a relatively short novel, the story is vibrant in every page. The scene changes constantly, new elements and surprises are added at every chapter. There is a vivacious rhythm that sits well with the beauty described in the scenery: the castle and its garden, caressed by the blue and luminous sky are the perfect background to the development of the characters.
Characters are, of course, the key. Through them, and the way they change during the story, we grasp the fabulous richness the author wants to communicate. In such a positive and fresh setting, there is so much to receive and to think about. I guess every reader will be touched by different aspects. I personally loved the sense of friendship, camaraderie and empathy that goes with the development of the story.
Although the women seem at the beginning at the mercy of their marriages – future, past and present -, it soon becomes clear that they are the ones who have the lead. The castle, the landscape, being under the same roof and having to come to terms with each other’s differences, only helps them gainthe awareness they needed to make a shift in their lives for the better.
The Enchanted April is definitely a fine novel that will stay with me for long.