Saturday, 17 April 2010

Elizabeth and her German garden (von Arnim) 173

I have been looking forward to reading Elizabeth and her German Garden for quite some time, as it is probably Elizabeth Von Arnim's most well-known work. It also reads like an autobiography, and is largely based on Von Arnim's own experiences - predominantly those of restoring the garden at the house she has moved to with her husband, but also describing her children (April, May and June baby respectively) and her own observations on life, and marriage.

Of course the descriptions of the garden and Elizabeth's plans for them are the main part of the book, and Von Arnim wonderfully describes the plants and flowers and the colours, as well as the birdsongs that she hears. Elizabeth is somewhat at odds with her gardener over her plans for the estate; he would rather have borders and bedding plants, but Elizabeth seeks to create something far more modern and inspirational.

It was an extremely gentle read, and accessible to the non-gardener. I enjoyed it very much, even if it lacked the plot and pace of her other novels, and I am very much looking forward to reading The solitary summer, which I believe is a follow up to this book.

It's been published four times by Virago; the first two green editions use the same cover illustration which I think wonderfully evokes the sense of the book. I'm not so sure about the image used on the most modern cover which is the one that I own (and which was kindly sent to me by Virago). 4*

5 comments:

  1. What a beautiful history of Elizabeth and Her German Garden! I have read it and am a non-gardener, but I love the scenes of her planning the garden, sitting outside all day, contemplating her family life, and reading. I need some hired help for my garden, too.

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  2. I loved The Enchanted April when I read it last year and I definitely want to read this one too.

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  3. I liked this - didn't love it - but thought it was enjoyable. I'd like to read Enchanted April.

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