The Enchanted April by Elizabeth von Arnim

This delightful book is ideal for a holiday read. At the same time, it is written so beautifully that it can be digested at any time of the year. Composed in the early 1920s, it has all kinds of qualities for those with the leisure to revel in them. However, the politics of the novel are also of some interest.

While the characters in the book have no genuine connection with the working class except through the distorting prism of the servant relationship, the author is ideologically aware enough to mention the fascist threat. However, the dominant attitude is conservative and seems equally troubled by opposition to fascism. The conservative nature of the text is evident in that the development of the narrative can be seen as a retreat from feminism. What begins as a tale of female courage and autonomy ends as a story of dull romantic harmony.

Ideology aside, the novel captures a moment when English people became more aware of the beauty of foreign parts. Familiarity with the cold made affluent people long for warmth. The social constraints of the time seemed much less relevant abroad. The author was able to cleverly hint at her own methodology in the text:

“It was quite easy to fasten some of the entertaining things he was constantly thinking on to other people and pretend they were theirs.”

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