Saturday, 3 April 2010

Christopher and Columbus (von Arnim) 395

I have been enjoying Elizabeth Von Arnim, and have been reading one of her books a week (and that's rationing them!). Thank goodness she has written quite a number so I don't have to worry about running out too soon, and even when I run out of VMCs, she wrote a number which haven't been published as VMCs (I have one from the library - Princess Priscilla's fortnight which sounds intriguing).

What I love most I think about Elizabeth Von Arnim, apart from the fact that her books are gripping, enjoyable and extremely well written, is the diversity in plot between the books. There doesn't seem to be any sense of the formulaic about her novels. Or not in the seven that I've read so far.

Christopher and Columbus is an extremely diverting read about two half-German twins, Anna-Rose and Anna-Felicitas. They are seventeen year olds, recently orphaned and struggling to make a place in the world. As the book is set at the dawn of the Second World War they are extremely hampered by their nationality; thrust upon relatives, their uncle, a British patriot, is reluctant to give them a home, and packs them off to America. Hence the title - the twins think of themselves as Christopher and Columbus to try to make themselves feel more adventurous. The rest of the book sees the girls trying to make a new life for themselves in America; extremely naieve and young for their age it is lucky that they encounter a friendly self-made-man on the ship who helps them out of the fixes they find themselves in and set them up.

The book has comic charm and romance and a wonderful story - all elements making it an extremely good read. Do pick it up if you see a copy.

It's only been published the once by Virago as far as I can see with this cover which is remarkably un-twinnish (or maybe the reflection in the mirror is supposed to imply twinnishness?). My copy is actually a print on demand edition - I believe that Virago are doing this with some of their books to keep them in print. It looks exactly like the original but with a colophon indicating this at the back and it is slightly bigger sizewise than the regular VMCs. Has anyone else come across POD VMCs?


  1. Sounds like a great von Arnim! I only have it in ebook edition. I didn't realise Virago were doing PODs.

  2. It was a lovely read, and definitely one to own in hardcopy I think. But still good that it is available on ebook!