• Elizabeth and Her German Garden

  • By: Elizabeth von Arnim
  • Narrated by: Nadia May
  • Length: 3 hrs and 45 mins
  • 4.1 out of 5 stars (214 ratings)

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Elizabeth and Her German Garden

By: Elizabeth von Arnim
Narrated by: Nadia May
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Publisher's Summary

Indoors are servants, meals, and furniture. There, too, is The Man of Wrath, her upright Teutonic husband, inspiring in Elizabeth a mixture of irritation, affection, and irreverence. But outside she can escape domestic routine, read favorite books, play with her three babies and garden to her heart's content. Through Elizabeth's eyes we watch the seasons, from May's "oasis of bird-cherries and greenery" to the time when "snow carpets her Pomeranian wilderness". And each season brings with it new events as friends and neighbors come and go, all wonderfully recorded with Elizabeth's uniquely witty pen.
(P)2000 Blackstone Audiobooks

Critic Reviews

"Rarely is there a book that when read once, one wishes to start rereading right away. Here is one. Elizabeth's memoir is read with elan and obvious relish by Nadia May." (AudioFile)

What listeners say about Elizabeth and Her German Garden

Average Customer Ratings
Overall
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  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars

Cavorting in the Gardens

This book is a solitary walk through the flower gardens, into the forest, down by a stream. Getting away from people is a recurring theme in Elizabeth von Arnim books: The Solitary Summer, The Enchanted April, Elizabeth and Her German Garden and even works such as Princess Priscilla's Fortnight have that element of escape from people. Yes, it is peaceful although issues with various gardeners complicate life along with the self satisfied superiority of the Man of Wrath. There is a gentle humor, and unfailing pleasure in observing the day to day, even hour to hour changes in the gardens. There is unabashed enjoyment of her babies, the fresh air, the gardening work and the time alone to think. One can feel the garden solitary quiet. I loved the idea of Elizabeth escaping into the snow covered gardens, then when she is sure that she is alone, dances and cavorts in the dark. Her friends from town were absolutely sure that she felt abandoned and lonely without the crowds and parties. No indeed, she felt liberated and exhilarated to be away from the noise and insipid conversations.

I have grown quite used to and fond of Nadia May's narrations as I listened to her on a couple dozen audio books in my collection ranging from Agnes Grey, Middlemarch, Northanger Abbey and Pride and Prejudice. She is consistent and I have found that trait particularly valuable in a narrator.

19 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
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    2 out of 5 stars

Not as good as Enchanted April

I bought this book because I LOVED Enchanted April .I found myself bogged down after the first disc HOW COULD ONE BOOK BE SUCH A GREAT ONE AND THIS ONE SO MEDIOCRE?I l really like Nadia May so I thought It would be a winner. The narration is fine its the story that fails to capture my attention. Nadia May narrated "The Childrens Hour" by Marcia Willett and it it excellent.I will still pay attention to anything narrated by Nadia May but hesitate about any more of Von Armins books.

3 people found this helpful

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    3 out of 5 stars
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    2 out of 5 stars

Spoiled, Privileged and Rich--Complaints in Diary

I read this book because Elizabeth von Arnim wrote the beautiful story, The Enchanted April. The way she represented the inner workings and vulnerability and awakening joy of those 4 women made me feel close to her. She truly conveyed the hopes and fears of the women in that book. This is somewhat of a diary. I guess I shouldn't judge her on her personal writings, but it reflected a spoiled, hauty, self centered, self indulgent rich wife. There didn't seem to be a speck of humility or vulnerability in her. She referred to her children as "The May Baby or The April Baby" and was constantly handing them off to maids and servants to tend them so she could get to her garden. She complained of visitors to her estate, having to go to lavish balls and parties, and the preference for being utterly alone and not bothered with motherly or household duties---such as supervising and ordering servants around. She mightily complained of her gardeners ineptness and bad character. I couldn't relate to being spoiled, privileged and rich. The narrator perfectly depicted the snooty tone in her reading with her high pitched, clipped voice. I gave up half way through. Not a fun read for me.

2 people found this helpful

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    4 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars

For those who can't tell, this is SATIRE

The snobbiness of writing style and judgemental tone is meant to be off-putting. Do the reviewers complaining about that really think it was written in earnest? The narration is spot on. Would have benefitted from a semblance of plot.

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    2 out of 5 stars
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Elizabeth and her German Garden

I was very happy when this book ended. I always push myself to finish a book, even when I am not enjoying it.

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    5 out of 5 stars
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Very enjoyable

I so enjoyed this book as it was refreshing in many ways. I could visually see the flowers and take in the pleasure Elizabeth had in her garden. I recommend this book for any one who loves plants, flowers, and, gardening.

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    5 out of 5 stars
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wonderous.

loved it. well read, perfect voice to listen too. I am sold on e. von arnim.

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    5 out of 5 stars
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Loved this book, ended too soon

This was a wonderful book, more of a relaxing type listen. I was disappointed when it ended so I quickly researched more of her books.

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    5 out of 5 stars
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Simply Charming

A charming book of life and gardens. Wit and beauty. The reader brings it to life.

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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

Any gardeners joy.

I really enjoyed the narrator and the tale. it wasnt at all typical, but painted a beautiful picture that carried me along.

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  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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  • Maggie Lockett
  • 10-30-15

A wonderful insightful description of gardening and German life

Maggie

Being a gardener born of German parents this brought me a smile of recognition in every chapter. What delight to plan the huge plantations, to skirt around the immovable German traditions and to beat the Man of Wrath at his own game!

5 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars
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  • AMum
  • 05-29-22

Satire of its time

Tongue in cheek manners satire. I will definitely listen again to extract my favourite quotes (e.g. on Foreigners).
I found the pauses between lines a little irritating- but maybe the text was printed this way, I have only listened to the book.



2 people found this helpful

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    4 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars
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  • Cogito Ergo Sometimes
  • 09-26-21

lovely

it's not enchanted April, but it is lovely, and Nadia May is a bit of a genius. good stuff.

2 people found this helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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  • Seagull
  • 10-31-20

Delightful view of times gone by

This is not a very long book, but nevertheless a very pleasant look back to a more leisured lifestyle, and the frustrations and rewards of creating of a garden. Perfect bedtime listening, and with a first class narrator.

2 people found this helpful

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    4 out of 5 stars
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  • Just a reader
  • 02-01-22

Timecapsule, enjoy it for what it is.

This was a very interesting book to listen to, but I think the description and the glowing reviews do not completely paint the whole picture. So I will add some observations.

Yes, it's a lovely book about gardening. It also has some VERY funny and witty moments and sentences. It is well written and reasonably well narrated. However, it is also written by a deeply entitled and spoiled woman. The people working around her estate are treated horribly and thought to be halfwits by her. They are simply not 'human' to her. The disdain dripping from her upper class perch is hard to take in places. Animals are not treated well either. The Man of Wrath (her husband) is extremely unpleasant and delights in speaking about hitting women so that they'll know their place. Most of the latter half of the book is the writer and her best friend mocking a young woman who is staying with them for a few weeks. It is hardly about gardening at all anymore once she arrives.

All in all, this book is of interest for gardening enthousiasts who like some historical insight. Though funny in a sardonic way, Elisabeth is vey much a product of her time and class. I'm not really sure why some reviews describe this book as some tale about 'leisurely times'. To me it seems more like a document about horrific working conditions. How awful it must have been to work at that estate, commanded by a rich woman who thought she was above you just because of her accident of birth. Who gossips with her friend and gardens a bit, and somehow thinks this makes her more worthy or interesting than the workers who have minds like 'children' according to her.

Conclusion: it's not a relaxing tale about gardening at all. However, I did find it interesting as a historical document. I did like the (sometimes quite catty) wit and the prose is quite good. So I don't rate it very low. But be aware that if you are looking for a lovely tale about gardens this might not be it.

The sound editting leaves in a lot of 'inhaling air before the next sentence' type of sounds, so if that is something you are sensitive to, beware.

1 person found this helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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  • MicT
  • 09-07-22

A great book narrated beautifully

The book is so funny and lovely and the narration is first class. I have thoroughly enjoyed this book.

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    5 out of 5 stars
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  • terrymoore
  • 08-10-22

UTTERLY WONDERFUL

If you need cheering up and are a gardener this witty charming book will lift your spirits

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars
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  • Gareth
  • 07-27-22

Great for gardeners

I enjoyed listening to the lists of flowers in this story. The characters were a bit hard to warm to but it was certainly amusing at points. Easy listening.

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  • Anonymous User
  • 12-09-21

A Gentle Delight

A lovely and very enjoyable rendering of this delightful book. Read by an excellent narrator.