I have been looking forward to reading von Arnim's books since beginning this challenge as I would consider her to be one of the stalwart Virago Modern Classics authors. I have both Elizabeth and her German garden, and The enchanted April, but I actually started with one of her lesser known novels - The pastor's wife. What an absolutely fantastic read!
The story opens with the heroine Ingeborg going to London to have a tooth looked at. The treatment takes less time than anticipated, so rather than returning home to her pretty frustrating life supporting her father, a bishop, when she sees an advert for an excursion to Lucerne in Switzerland, she makes a spur of the minute decision to go. I thought this was perhaps one of the best openings to a book that I have ever read and made me really warm to Ingeborg. On the tour, she is befriended by a german pastor, who by the end of the week proposes marriage to her! Ingeborg is a little bewildered by his conception of marriage which doesn't seem to revolve around love, but nonetheless accepts him by the end of the trip as he seems to offer an escape from her life with her parents. She returns home, and her parents are absolutely horrified (I also loved this bit - it made me laugh and cross my fingers and wonder what would happen) but the marriage goes ahead. The rest of the book tells the story of Ingeborg's life as a Pastor's Wife. Sadly, this occupation is not much better than being a bishop's daughter; her husband becomes remote and she bears endless children. When Edward, a painter, begins to pay her attention, it is inevitable that she will be swept off her feet...
I absolutely can't wait to read more von Arnim, although I will obviously be saving The enchanted April for April. Any recommendations as to which I should go for next?
Two Virago editions - I own the original green one.