9.03.2008

(dis)Enchanted April

In Enchanted April, four English women answer an ad to rent a beautiful Italian villa. London is foggy, dreary, and all four are tired of their lives. Lady Caroline Dester is beautiful, spoiled, and weary of men worshipping her for her perfect face. Mrs. Wilkins is simple, but not too simple that she doesn't realize she needs a change. Mrs. Arbuthnot is ashamed of her husband's romance novels, though she deeply loves him, and Mrs. Fisher lives arrogantly in the past, believing that her father's friends, Ruskin, Dickens etc., are far superior to the mere mortals living today. These women converge on the Italian villa and have little to do with each other. Lady Dester, or Scrap, as she is called at the villa, resents the expectation that she will choose the lunch menu, and Mrs. Fisher can't understand why Mrs. Wilkins is always so loving with everyone. More characters soon enter the picture, and the four women experience an 180 degree change for the better by the end of the month.

Elizabeth Von Arnim's purple-prosed novel is a dull read. There are moments of interest and the characterization is good, but on the whole it's slow moving and predictable. This is a flowery example of Victorian prose gone wrong.

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