The Enchanted April
THE ENCHANTED APRIL
Enchanted April is a book for anyone who feels stiff, unloved, or used up - a restful, funny, sumptuous, and invigorating vacation for the mind and soul. It begins one cold, rainy February afternoon soon after the end of World War I when Mrs. Arbuthnot and Mrs. Wilkins come across an advertisement for a villa in Italy to rent for the month of April. Mrs. Arbuthnot, with the "face of a patient and disappointed Madonna," and Mrs. Wilkins, "her clothes infested by thrift," barely know each other, yet the fantasy of a wisteria-covered Italian villa sparks something in each and brings them together. They raid their meager nest eggs, find two more women - the formidable Mrs. Fisher and the unspeakably lovely but bored Lady Caroline Dester - to help defray costs, and set off for their dream of sunshine and beauty. At San Salvatore, remarkable changes occur. Mrs. Wilkins becomes Lotty - intuitive, sensual, self-confident; Mrs. Arbuthnot loses her religious self-righteousness. Lady Caroline finds herself with "that really rather disgusting suspicion that her life till now had not only been loud but empty," while Mrs. Fisher starts to feel a "very odd and exciting sensation of going to come out all over buds." Elizabeth von Armin portrays these transformations in wickedly dry British humor interwoven with descriptions of the lush, soul-stirring terrain of San Salvatore. The effect is refreshing, charming, and romantic.