Monday, 5 August 2013

The Enchanted April

Right now, part of my healing process is to stay happy and keep my spirits high, always looking for the best in each day. This can be irritatingly Pollyanna-ish, I realize, but is actually really essential for my wellbeing, so I couldn't have stumbled across a better book to re-visit than The Enchanted April by Elizabeth von Arnim.

The main character, Lotty, reminded me (rather annoyingly!) of myself: optimistic, seeing the joy in everything and wanting to infect everyone else with it too... but that is precisely what happens. It is the story of four women, unhappy with their everyday lives in London, who travel to Italy to spend a month at San Salvatore, a castle on the shores of the Mediterranean. As the Telegraph review said, "At one level, an escapist fantasy, at another, a parable about the liberation of the spirit." I can't think of a better combination for a "summer read"!

It is, though, perhaps the language I appreciate most about this book. It is rich and witty in a dry way, but with no meanness to it. Lotty's observations are sharp and unusually modern for her day, making the novel seem much less dated than any book written in 1922 has any right to. There are many phrases that made me laugh out loud and also many passages that were so wise that I wanted to write them out so as to have a record of them for myself to keep... and follow!

P.S. This has also been made into a wonderful movie with a perfectly-cast cast. If you are tempted (which you should be!), can I implore you to read the book first? It really is worth your while. I promise!

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