Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Elizabeth and Her German Garden

by Elizabeth von Arnim
London : Virago, 1985 (orig. published 1898).

From what I gather, this book is a sort of fictionalized memoir or memoir-like novel. Told in diary form from May to April, Elizabeth writes of her garden in the country, her husband (the Man of Wrath), her children (the April, May, and June babies), and other observations of her life in Germany, making sometimes acute and witty observations of both people and circumstances.

I was first introduced to Elizabeth von Arnim when I read The Enchanted April in 2009. I found the tale warm and the characters endearing, and determined to read more of her works. I've been following through on that determination ever-so-slowly, but Elizabeth and Her German Garden has rejuvenated that resolution. Every one of her books that I have read (Vera is the other) have been very different from each other, though in both The Enchanted April and Elizabeth and Her German Garden, I most enjoyed her wit and humor. Elizabeth clearly lives as a well-to-do woman, with gardeners to do most of the work for her, and much leisure time, but she also discusses the political state of women in her time. I read a bit slower than usual because I had a hard time with the language of the day - long sentences with multiple semicolons make for slow going. But then a sentence or phrase would stand out for how beautifully she captures a description or sentiment. Though The Enchanted April is still my favorite of her works to date, this book stands as a close second.

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