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yoyobon_gw

If you don't know this author, you MUST read her!

yoyobon_gw
17 years ago

I am reading yet another of the wonderful books by ELIZABETH VON ARNIM and am in absolute heaven!

If you have never enjoyed her novels I urge you to find one of her books and settle in for a delightful read.

I am currently enjoying THE JASMINE FARM.

Some of her other titles include:

ENCHATED APRIL

ELIZABETH'S GERMAN GARDEN

CHRISTOPHER AND COLUMBUS

FATHER

INTRODUCING SALLY

THE CARAVANERS

THE BENEFACTRESS

.....to name a few.

She is not a contemporary writer, but her wit and style are absolutely timeless.

A real delight.

Comments (33)

  • ccrdmrbks
    17 years ago

    What is your recommendation for the best one with which to start? Are there common characters from book to book?

  • cindydavid4
    17 years ago

    Oh, I discovered her years ago from Common Reader catalogue. The first one I read was Christopher and Columbus, about two sisters wha's parents die and their uncle sends them to America (circa early 1900s I think). Absolutely hilarious, well written, and so on target. (and darn it I cannot find anything that lists it! I suspect you'd have better luck on British sites for the title.

    When I watched the movie Enchanted April I didn't realize it was a book - when I read it, I realized how much the excellent movie missed. Definitely an excellent read!

    I also read was Eliz German Garden, which I think was her first book, and may be biographical. I've read several others, but those listed aren't familiar to me. Looks like I have a treasure hunt on my next bookstore run!

    There aren't common characters, tho there are common themes - love, marriage, women's place in society, and social mores ala Jane Austen among them

    Here is a link that might be useful: Eliz Von Arnim bio

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  • sheriz6
    17 years ago

    I loved The Enchanted April and enjoyed Elizabeth and Her German Garden, too. I know I have at least one more of her books in the TBR pile (I think it's The Pastor's Wife, but it's been a while since I looked).

    Christopher and Columbus sounds like a book I'd like, I'll have to hunt down a copy.

  • woodnymph2_gw
    17 years ago

    I have not been able to find her works anywhere, but will keep looking....

  • ccrdmrbks
    17 years ago

    Just did a search online in my library system-"sorry, they have no "Von Armin, Elizabeth".
    so I try a title-Enchanted April and lo and behold, her books are all catalogued with author being "Elizabeth, 1866-1941. "
    Anyway-they have it. I think.

  • ccrdmrbks
    17 years ago

    a little research is a dangerous thing-found out that she published them all under her first name only-"Elizabeth, author of Elizabeth's German Garden". Interesting.

  • rosefolly
    17 years ago

    Try used book vendors. I bought Christopher and Columbus, Elizabeth and Her German Garden and Enchanted April all that way. And I have the DVD of the movie of Enchanted April on my Amazon wish list, should they ever release it.

    Rosefolly

  • ginny12
    17 years ago

    This was a fascinating woman. I am a historian and have written about her influence in my particular field. Her real name was Mary Annette Beauchamp Von Arnim Russell. But she always wrote, as posted above, under the single name "Elizabeth", and later, "Elizabeth, of the German Garden". This makes her extremely difficult to "look up". But her books were popular and it is easy to assemble a list by checking a used book site like www.bookfinder.com.

    Her first husband was the Count Von Arnim. He died and she married Bertrand Russell's brother, who had the family title. It was a nasty marriage but she refused to divorce him, she said, inimitably, to save any other woman from the fate of being married to him. And she loved being Countess Russell. When he decided to divorce her, she whipped out one of her novels, Vera. It was clearly a roman a clef and everyone knew it. He was going to sue her for libel. She said, (paraphrasing), Oh, do go ahead, but I'll have to say even more about you when I'm on the witness stand.

    All of her books were autobiographical. She was the rage in her own day and is continually being rediscovered, as well she should be.

  • reader_in_transit
    17 years ago

    After reading Elizabeth and her German Garden, I used to look for her books in used bookshops, and found The Solitary Summer. It is a sequel to the first one. These are soothing books, the literary equivalent of comfort food, but with wit and social observation. The Enchanted April is quite delightful also.

    I have--in storage--The Adventures of Elizabeth in Rugen and Love, waiting to read them someday. Years ago, I saw All the Dogs of my Life at Borders, and somehow did not buy it...

    Had never heard of The Jasmine Farm before. What is it about, Yoyobon?

  • cindydavid4
    17 years ago

    Ginny, thanks for that info. I know she was popular enough to be called the next Jane Austen. I am thrilled that she's still popular, by word of mouth, today

    >she refused to divorce him, she said, inimitably, to save any other woman from the fate of being married to him.

    Wow! Talk about being a martyr for your gender!

    Bookfinder.com has several of her books from a variety of places, if you can't find them locally. Also I think the chains can order many of them - they were re-published here a few years back.

  • laceyvail 6A, WV
    17 years ago

    I'm so glad you mentioned E. vA. I've known of her for years, but haven't yet read anything by her. I keep meaning to, but somehow never get around to tracking the books down. BTW, Amazon has quite a few. She also wrote one about dogs, and being a dog love, I want to read that one, as well as the garden one, since I'm a passionate gardener too.

  • ginny12
    17 years ago

    Believe me, Elizabeth was no martyr. She made that remark quite tongue in cheek. Her "garden" book has virtually nothing to do with the usual material of garden books--horticultural techniques, plant lists and so on. It is a very feminist statement, coyly worded and with her matchless biting wit. That's what she intended; that's how it was taken by readers on both sides of the Atlantic. As one reviewer noted, Elizabeth said what many felt but few would dare say, even to themselves.

    "Elizabeth and Her German Garden" was enormously popular for a very long time--and enormously controversial. Elizabeth, her views and her book, were a hot topic. You loved her or you hated her. I must say it surprises me to hear her work described as soothing and comfort food.

  • cindydavid4
    17 years ago

    Um, ginny, I kind of assumed that. And yes, her books are indeed as you say - but there is some bit of comfort in them. I'll need to reread them to remember why I thought that.

  • ginny12
    17 years ago

    Sorry, Cindy! That's one problem with the internet--it's hard to get people's meaning without hearing voices and seeing faces.

  • minnie_tx
    17 years ago

    I loved Enchanted April and they made a delightful movie out of it. If you can't find the book try and get the movie

  • yoyobon_gw
    Original Author
    17 years ago

    You can find most of her books, reissued, at Amazon.com

    I find many of the original copies at Ebay and have been able to collect all of them.

    The first book I read was ELIZABETH'S GERMAN GARDEN, which was just wonderful and hilarious.

    I've loved THE CARAVANERS, FATHER, CHRISTOPHER AND COLUMBUS, FINDING SALLY, ONE SOLITARY SUMMER, THE JASMINE FARM......almost anything you find by her will be delightful.

    Check used books stores and old book lofts.
    Frequently the older books are listed as having been written by Elizabeth ( no last name! )

    A library would probably be the last place to find her works.

    Good luck.....and ENJOY!!

  • yoyobon_gw
    Original Author
    17 years ago

    RE: The Jasmine Farm

    Here is the prelude from the original (1936) edition:

    " It was at one of Lady Midhurst's parties that gossip first whispered how her daughter Terry had deceived her.
    Daisy Midhurst was pure, really awfully pure. Her sole passion for years had been continence. Nothing could make her believe that the terrible rumors about Terry were true until Terry herself pointed out that they had been for seven years.
    Lady Midhurst collapses and fled to her jasmine farm on the Riviera. The aggrieved wife of Terry's lover ate a liqueur chocolate and her mother Mumsie leaped into action.
    Of course, Mumsie couldn't resort to out-and-out blackmail but, as she said to Daisy " You and I are connnected now by adultery," and an alliance of friendship and silence was necessary. She followed hotfoot to the Riviera.
    This is the most joyfully witty and vivid book that Elizabeth has written.
    We say it advisedly, remembering FATHER and THE ENCHANTED APRIL."

  • ginny12
    17 years ago

    I loved the movie version of "The Enchanted April" as well. Made me want to jump on a plane for Italy. I was surprised to read recently that it had been made into a movie in 1935--that would be fun to see, if it's out there somewhere.

    Another of Elizabeth's books that was made into a movie was her very last, "Mr. Skeffington". The movie starred Bette Davis, who never did anything wrong on film, as far as I'm concerned. That book has the twin themes of a woman who is dealing with the loss of her beauty as she ages, and of the looming threat of anti-Semitism. Both themes of course drawn from her life experiences. Elizabeth wrote it on the eve of WW2. She had a terrible fear of German conquest of Britain and the US. While not great literature, her last book--she died not long after publication--caught the spirit of her time and was an appropriate valedictory.

  • netla
    17 years ago

    If you are not adverse to e-books, Project Gutenberg has free copies of the following of her books:

    # Christopher and Columbus
    # Elizabeth and Her German Garden
    # The Enchanted April
    # The Princess Priscilla's Fortnight
    # The Solitary Summer

    I liked The Enchanted April so much that I downloaded it, laid it out for printing in Word, printed it out and have now finished binding it (I'm taking a bookbinding course) so I can take it with me to read again (e-books are all fine and good, but regular books don't need batteries). I'm thinking about doing the same with The Solitary Summer and Elizabeth and Her German Garden. The other two books I have not yet read, but I plan to.

    Here is a link that might be useful: Elizabeth von Arnim at Project Gutenberg

  • twobigdogs
    17 years ago

    Oh THANK YOU for starting this thread! I've had a miserable day and a woman writer with scathing wit is exactly what I need.

    I am ordering them all from Amazon right now to boost my spirits. It's been at least two weeks since I bought a boatload of great mysteries from a used book shop.

    PAM

  • veer
    17 years ago

    yoyo, if I were to chose only one of her books which should it be?

  • mummsie
    17 years ago

    "All of her books were autobiographical."

    Ginny, How painful for her to pen Christine , which I read is an homage to her 17 year old daughter who died alone in Germany in 1916, the same year Elizabeth married Russell. Do you know the circumstances?

  • cindydavid4
    17 years ago

    Oh, I want to read that. Ya know this thread is making me remember how much I like her, and making me realize that I have barely scratched the surface of her work. Its bookstore time...

    BTW ginny, no worries :)

  • yoyobon_gw
    Original Author
    17 years ago

    Veer.....

    You'll be able to find a new or old copy of ELIZABETH AND HER GERMAN GARDEN or THE ENCHANTED APRIL very easily.

    I have found these others to be equally fun and charming:

    The Adventures of Elizabeth in Rugen
    Father
    Christopher and Columbus
    The Jasmine Farm
    One Solitary Summer

    Do a bit of searching on Amazon.com for summaries of the stories and pick which one resonates with you.
    Most of hers are not so much autobiographical as just stories written about her view of things....a very interesting one for sure!
    I adore her style of writing and find her sense of humor timeless.

    I know I would have loved to have her as a cohort in mischief!

  • frances_md
    17 years ago

    Has anyone read All the Dogs of My Life and, if so, is it sad? The excerpt on Amazon looks good but I just can't read books about dogs that are sad without becoming a puddle of tears who can't leave the house for days because I look like I just lost my own best friend.

  • ginny12
    17 years ago

    Mummsie, I have never read "Christine" so I am reluctant to comment. It seems, however, from what other writers have said, to take the fact of her teen-age daughter's death to create fiction. Elizabeth had a troubled relationship with this daughter and packed her off to a very strict school in Germany. Not long after, the daughter died of pneumonia during WW1 in Germany.

    Elizabeth wrote "Christine" under a different name, in order to protect yet another daughter still in Germany. She created fictional letters from a daughter who died to a mother abroad. The purpose was to aid the Allied war effort with the book's negative view of Germany.

    Elizabeth, according to what I have read, was roundly criticized for this device as so many people believed the book to be non-fiction when it was published. Not exactly a warm and fuzzy story.

  • mummsie
    17 years ago

    Ginny, thanks for your insights, what a remarkably complex woman. There are indeed portions of Christine which read like WW1 propaganda.

    The whole premise of the book seemed eerie to me and perhaps 'homage' is not the correct term. It is also interesting that you noted their troubled relationship, I felt the flowery, loving language was a bit over the top, even giving allowance for the time period.
    Regrets or guilt perhaps?

    I think in todays world, Elizabeth would be a crackerjack blogger.;-)

  • ginny12
    17 years ago

    I'd put my money on guilt. Elizabeth was angry with this daughter for refusing to admit to something she insisted she had not done. So Elizabeth refused to say good-bye or even see her before she left for the German school. Then the young girl died alone, surrounded by strangers.

    Interestingly, I looked for "Christine" on the internet after I posted above. Thought I'd like to read it tho it has no direct bearing on my own work. It is not listed with Elizabeth as the author. The name Elizabeth used, Alice Cholmondeley, is given and the assumption is still that it is a work of non-fiction. After all these years.

    And, Mummsie, you are right. Elizabeth is still tremendously interesting today and still very relevant, whether she is read for the light side of her work or the social commentary.

  • yoyobon_gw
    Original Author
    17 years ago

    If you read any of Elizabeth's works, you will find lots of relevant social commentary from her time. Some of it makes me a little uncomfortable, but then she frequently wrote "tongue in cheek" to purposefully take the devil's advocate position. It reflects much of the behavior of Germans in that time period as well as certain biases toward various ethnic groups.
    Again, nothing egregious, simply used in the story to show certain attitudes held by various characters.

    Elizabeth is generally a very pleasant read, bearing in mind that she wrote from a different time.

  • biwako_of_abi
    17 years ago

    I was so happy to find this thread and know that some other books of hers are available on Project Gutenberg. I had only read Elizabeth's German Garden, in which I recall she referred to her husband as "The Man of Wrath" (That tickled me.) and The Enchanted April.

  • yoyobon_gw
    Original Author
    17 years ago

    If you read Solitary Summer, you find that although she still refers to him as "The Man of Wrath" he is, in fact, very devoted to her!
    It is an example of her wicked sense of humor regarding men of her era.

  • biwako_of_abi
    17 years ago

    Oh, yes, Yoyobon. I downloaded Solitary Summer from the Gutenberg Project right away this afternoon and was surprised to see that she had even dedicated the book to him in these words:

    "To the man of wrath
    With some apologies and much love"

  • cindydavid4
    16 years ago

    I finished The Pastor's Wife and think its now my favorite of hers. Some of the scenes are hilarious - esp the bethroal one. Yet she deals with some very serious subjects: birth control, religious dictates, women's role in marriage and society, motherhood, and love and marriage in general. We were looking for 'feminist' type books a while back, and I think this one could easily be included. Aside from needing a good editor when Ingeborg ran away to Italy with that painter, it was quite a good read.

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