A recipe for happiness: four women, one medieval Italian castle, plenty of wisteria, and solitude as needed.
The women at the center of "The Enchanted April "are alike only in their dissatisfaction with their everyday lives. They find each other--and the castle of their dreams--through a classified ad in a London newspaper one rainy February afternoon. The ladies expect a pleasant holiday, but they don't anticipate that the month they spend in Portofino will reintroduce them to their true natures and reacquaint them with joy. Now, if the same transformation can be worked on their husbands and lovers, the enchantment will be complete.
"The Enchanted April" was a best-seller in both England and the United States, where it was a Book-of-the-Month Club selection, and set off a craze for tourism to Portofino. More recently, the novel has been the inspiration for a major film and a Broadway play.
About the Author
Elizabeth von Arnim Russell (1866-1941), born Mary Annette Beauchamp, was an Australian-born British novelist. By marriage she became Grafin (Countess) von Arnim-Schlagenthin, and by a second marriage, Countess Russell. Although known in her early life as Mary, "after the publication of her first book, she was known to her readers, eventually to her friends, and finally even to her family as Elizabeth." and she is now invariably referred to as Elizabeth von Arnim. She also wrote under the pen name Alice Cholmondeley. In 1898 she started her literary career by publishing Elizabeth and Her German Garden, a semi-autobiographical novel about a rural idyll published anonymously and, as it turned out to be highly successful, reprinted 20 times within the first year. Von Arnim wrote another 20 books, which were all published "By the author of Elizabeth and Her German Garden." Enchanted April was adapted into an Academy Award-nominated feature film, directed by Mike Newell, in 1992, and a Tony Award-nominated stage play by Matthew Barber, in 2003. Her book Mr. Skeffington was made into a movie starring Bette Davis and Claude Rains in 1944.
Cathleen Schine is the author of "The Three Weissmanns of Westport", To "the Birdhouse", "The New Yorkers", and "The Love Letter", among other novels. She has contributed to "The New Yorker, The New York Review of Books, The New York Times Magazine", and "The New York Times Book Review". She grew up in Westport, Connecticut, and lives in New York City and Venice, California.
"A pleasant...little story, with some neat phrasing and a genuine feeling for color and for beauty."--The New York Times
"The Enchanted April sounds as if it would be an appallingly cloying cream puff of a fairy tale, but that would be to ignore that the author habitually kept a pot of lemon juice mixed with vinegar beside her ink-pot. With this bracing element there is additionally what can only be called a feast of flowers, hanging from every wall and pouring scent over the company."--Times Literary Supplement
"[A]n expression of the propensity of people to be blind to the real secret of happiness, and that it showed how exquisitely men and women get upon each others' nerves and how they suffer from each others' egos."--National Review
"...extraordinarily well written...it is witty, human, often very beautiful."--Punch
"[A] comedy of absolutely flawless mirth...a very beautiful...and touching book."--Chris Morley
"[A] restful, funny, sumptuous, and invigorating vacation for the mind and soul." --500 Great Books By Women