It began in a women's club in London on a February afternoon. A discreet advertisement in The Times, addressed to "Those who Appreciate Wistaria and Sunshine..." lures four very different women away from the dismal British weather to San Salvatore, a castle high above a bay on the sunny Italian Riviera. There, the Mediterranean spirit stirs the souls of Mrs Arbuthnot, Mrs Wilkins, Lady Caroline Dester, and Mrs Fisher, and remarkable changes occur.
©1922 Elizabeth von Arnim (P)2013 AudioGO Ltd
Enchanted April –Elizabeth Von Armen
Audio performance by Eleanor Bron
3.5 stars ( round down to 3)
Four women of various ages decide to share the rent of an Italian villa for the month of April. Two of the women are bored and dissatisfied with their marriages, one is a selfish elderly widow, and the fourth is a snobbish, young, single aristocrat.
I loved the setting of this book. I want to book a month’s vacation there. Although, I would definitely choose different companions. The book was first published in 1922; so the mannerisms, concerns and personalities of these women were a bit dated. I just could not warm up to any of them. I was expecting more feminine bonding in the course of the story and was very disappointed with the arrival of the husbands. The easy resolutions in marital relations were too simplistic for the seriously troubled relationships.
At the end, I just wanted to shoo all of the annoying people out of the villa, so I could go sit on the terrace and enjoy the beautiful view in peace !
I previewed several audio versions of this book before settling on Eleanor Bron. She gave a solid performance with a good variety of voices for the different characters.
SciFi/Fantasy and Classics to History, Adventure and Memoirs to Social Commentary—I love and listen to it all!
I purchased this audiobook because it came cheap. I had low expectations. So imagine my surprise when I found fleshed-out characters, a not so easy journey for them, and twists in the plot. Even though I absolutely knew how it'd turn out in the end, it was so good (and so well narrated) I zipped through, chapter after chapter. And I look forward to doing that again someday because really: what a delight!
All the characters have complicated natures, complicated desires, and unexpected challenges to growth. Mrs. Wilkins, Lottie, however, is a natural favorite as she's the catalyst for change, the one who leaves her subservient self behind, and looks to the future with hope while enjoying every second of the present.
This book really makes you look at the beauty around you, and it inspires you to fling off your shackles with joy. I particularly was impressed by how many little obstacles were thrown in the way of the characters. What should have been a predictable journey to growth was instead written with challenges for them. This had me biting my nails now and again.
I found nothing wrong with Eleanor Bron's performance but was instead really quite taken with it. There are different versions of this book, but I suggest this version as Bron has a knack for delivering the different tones of the characters' natures, their emotions. She doesn't make the annoying mistake of trying to warp her voice into different characters but uses subtle variations to distinguish them. She really captures their longings, their fears, their hopes.
Make no mistake, this is light reading/listening. If you're looking for deep plot dynamics, save this for later. But by all means, come back later if you'd like some refreshment. It's a little gem that I had no idea was out there.
Hi all. I'm in my 50's (that's relevant, i think), and I favor fiction. I like the british sensibility, and was introduced to the Forsyte Saga through audible ... loved it! I happen to also like Chinese writers, but they are not well represented yet at audible. Looking to follow readers with similar tastes ...
If this book hadn't been written in the 1920s, i'd have given it 1 star as a period novel. If you are looking for an excellent book of that approximate era, written in the early 1900s, read The Forsyte Saga. You will recognize a huge chasm between the writing styles, and, substantively, the author's perception of the female mind and character. Begrudgingly, 2 stars.
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