The Enchanted April
The Enchanted April is a 1922 novel by British-American writer Elizabeth von Arnim. The work was inspired by a month-long holiday to the Italian Riviera, probably the most widely read (as an English and American best seller in 1923) and perhaps the lightest and most ebullient of her novels.
The novel follows four dissimilar women in 1920s England who leave their rainy, grey environments to go on holiday in Italy. Mrs Arbuthnot and Mrs Wilkins, who belong to the same ladies' club but have never spoken, become acquainted after reading a newspaper advertisement for a small medieval castle on the Mediterranean to be let furnished for April. They find some common ground in that both are struggling to make the best of unhappy marriages. They also reluctantly take on the waspish, elderly Mrs Fisher and the stunning but aloof Lady Caroline Dester to defray expenses. Lottie Wilkins, who is very genuine and open, and also very intuitive to others' needs and desires, although often muddled and awkward in her speech, has been married only a few years, but she and her husband are rubbing each other the wrong way. Rose Arbuthnot is highly religious lady who does extensive charity work, but is married to an author of racy popular novels who neglects her. Lady Caroline Dester is a beautiful socialite who is tired of the burden of London society and is beginning to regard her life as shallow and empty, after a man she loved died in WWI. Mrs. Fisher is a pompous, snobbish, highly proper lady who knew many Victorian luminaries and regards herself as the hostess and in control of the holiday; she prefers to live in her memories of times past rather than embracing the present and is emotionally closed-off. The four women experience interpersonal tensions but eventually come together at the castle and find rejuvenation in the tranquil beauty of their surroundings, rediscovering hope and love.
The Enchanted April has regularly been adapted for the stage and screen:
- as a Broadway play in 1925
- a 1935 American feature film
- an Academy Award-nominated feature film in 1992 (starring Josie Lawrence, Jim Broadbent and Joan Plowright)
- a Tony Award-nominated Broadway stage play in 2003
- a musical play in 2010 by Charles Leipart and Richard Bunger Evans that premiered in Pleasanton, California April 2016
- in 2015 a serial on BBC Radio 4
- "A Different Stripe". A Different Stripe. Retrieved 1 April 2016.
- De Vere White, Terence in introduction to 'The Enchanted April', Virago: 1991