• Quelques mois après la mort mystérieuse de Vera, Everard Wemys se remarie avec Lucy, de vingt ans sa cadette.
    Mais le souvenir omniprésent de Vera, les doutes relatifs à sa mort (accident, suicide, crime ?) font planer sur le couple, qui s'est installé à la campagne dans la grande maison où eut lieu le drame, une ombre noire que ni l'un ni l'autre ne parviendront à chasser.
    Après avoir lu Vera, Bertrand Russell, alors beau-frère d'Elizabeth von Arnim, avoua : « J'ai donné à mes enfants un conseil de prudence : n'épousez jamais une romancière ».

  • Elizabeth quittant mari et enfants, a décidé de passer quelques jours en compagnie de sa fidèle femme de chambre, Gertrud, avec sa victoria, son cocher, ses peignoirs et son carton à chapeaux dans l'île de Rügen, en mer Baltique : falaises de craie, forêts de hêtres et de pins, étangs et lacs, c'est une station balnéaire sans prétention. Mais sa solitude est bientôt troublée par la rencontre de l'insupportable épouse d'un évêque anglais - toutefois accompagnée d'un fils « charmant de sa personne » - ainsi que d'une cousine longtemps perdue de vue, mais dont la vie conjugale est fort troublée. Elizabeth découvre ainsi que décidément les îles ne sont pas toujours des havres de calme propices à la solitude. Dès lors ce récit qui avait pour ambition d'être un petit guide de voyage, devient vite un livre plein de rebondissements témoignant du sens de l'ironie ainsi que de l'humour tendre et lucide qui sont la marque de son auteur.
    Cousine de la romancière Katherine Mansfield, Elizabeth von Arnim (1866-1941) est née Mary « May » Annette Beauchamp en Australie. Elle reçoit une éducation européenne avant d'entamer un grand tour à travers l'Europe, au cours duquel elle rencontre le comte Henning August von Arnim-Schlagenthin, un aristocrate prussien, cousin du poète romantique Achim von Arnim. Après quelques années passées à Berlin, elle découvre le domaine familial de Nassenheide et décide de s'y installer. En 1898, elle publie anonymement son premier ouvrage, Elizabeth et son jardin allemand, véritable événement littéraire de la fin du siècle. À la mort de son époux, elle s'installe en Suisse et entretient pendant un temps une liaison tapageuse avec l'écrivain H. G. Wells avant un remariage malheureux avec Lord John Russell. D'elle, ont été traduits les titres suivants : L'Été solitaire (1899) ; En caravane (1909) ; Christopher et Colombus (1919) ; Vera(1921) ; Avril enchanté (1922) ; Tous les chiens de ma vie (1936).

  • Anna Estcourt, vingt-cinq ans, emménage dans une petite propriété du Nord de l'Allemagne dont elle hérite à la mort de son oncle. Jolie, intelligente mais sans fortune, elle a grandi jusque-là avec son frère, sous la coupe de la femme de celui-ci, Susie.
    Désormais en possession d'un revenu confortable, elle contrevient aux convenances de l'époque en ne se mariant pas, afin de conserver son indépendance. Mieux, elle propose généreusement un toit aux dames en détresse de sa nouvelle contrée, afin que celles-ci puissent faire de même - altruisme dont elle ne tardera pas à peser les inconvénients...
    D'autant qu'Axel Lohm, un gentleman de la région que son oncle espérait lui voir épouser, est tombé amoureux d'elle. Il va tenter de la faire changer d'avis...

  • A notice in The Times addressed to 'Those who Appreciate Wistaria and Sunshine' advertises a 'small mediaeval Italian Castle on the shores of the Mediterranean to be let furnished for the month of April'. Four very different women take up the offer, escaping dreary London for the sunshine of Italy. Among the party are Mrs Wilkins and Mrs Arthuthnot, both fleeing unappreciative husbands; beautiful Lady Caroline, sick of being 'grabbed' by lovestruck men; and the imperious Mrs Fisher, who spends her time remembering the bearded 'great men' she knew in her Victorian childhood. By the end of their holiday, all the women will fall completely under the spell of Italy in this funny, insightful and very charming novel.

  • I want to be alone for a whole summer, and get to the very dregs of life. I want to be as idle as I can, so that my soul may have time to grow. Nobody shall be invited to stay with me, and if anyone calls they will be told that I am out, or away, or sick... Wouldn't a whole lovely summer, quite alone, be delightful?' This delightful companion to the famous Elizabeth and her German Garden is a witty, lyrical account of a rejuvenating, solitary summer filled with books and Elizabeth's reflections on her beloved garden. Descriptions of magnificent larkspurs and burning nasturtiums give way to those of cooling forest walks. Yet the months aren't as solitary as she'd planned: there's still her husband to pacify and the April, May and June babies to amuse.

  • Dear Husband, she said, actually imitating me. I know what you are going to say. I always know what you are going to say. I know all the things you ever can or ever do say. She paused for a moment, and then added in a firm voice, looking me straight in the eyes, By heart. ' For the Major and his wife Edelgard, the idea of a holiday touring Southern England in a horse-drawn gypsy caravan seems perfect. As they begin their leisurely progress through its green and verdant countryside, the holiday spirit sets in. But England presents more than a contrast of scenery to this German couple - amongst the company of their English companions Edelgard seems to undergo a change of temperament, revealing herself to be far less biddable than the upright Major had believed. The blossoming of hedgerows is one thing, but the blossoming of his wife is quite anotherâEuro¦

  • A gentle romance begins innocently enough in the stalls of a London theatre where Catherine is enjoying her ninth and Christopher his thirty-sixth visit to the same play.
    He is a magnificent young man with flame-coloured hair. She is the sweetest little thing in a hat. There is just one complication: Christopher is twenty-five, while Catherine is just a little bit older. Flattered by the passionate attentions of youth, Catherine, with marriage and motherhood behind her, is at first circumspect, but finally succumbs to her lover's charms.
    The engaging humour of this autobiographical novel blunts the bitter edge of irony in the hypocrisy of 1920s society.

  • The charming, slyly comic novel of romantic longing and transformation that inspired the Oscar-nominated film Escaping dreary London for the sunshine of Italy, four very different women take up an offer advertised in the Times for a small medieval Italian Castle on the shores of the Mediterranean to be let furnished for the month of April. As each blossoms in the warmth of the Italian spring, quite unexpected changes occur.
    An immediate bestseller upon its first publication, in 1922, The Enchanted April set off a craze for tourism to the Italian Riviera that continues today. Published here to coincide with a contemporary retelling, Enchanted August by Brenda Bowen, its a witty ensemble piece and the perfect romantic rediscovery for fans of Jess Walters Beautiful Ruins and Elizabeth Gilberts Eat, Pray, Love as well as of Downton Abbey and the hit movie The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel.
    For more than sixty-five years, Penguin has been the leading publisher of classic literature in the English-speaking world. With more than 1,500 titles, Penguin Classics represents a global bookshelf of the best works throughout history and across genres and disciplines. Readers trust the series to provide authoritative texts enhanced by introductions and notes by distinguished scholars and contemporary authors, as well as up-to-date translations by award-winning translators.

  • WITH AN INTRODUCTION BY BRENDA BOWEN A notice in The Times addressed to 'Those Who Appreciate Wistaria and Sunshine' advertises a 'small medieval Italian Castle to be let for the month of April'. Four very different women take up the offer: Mrs Wilkins and Mrs Arbuthnot, both fleeing unappreciative husbands; beautiful Lady Caroline, sick of being 'grabbed' by lovesick men; and the imperious, ageing Mrs Fisher. On the shores of the Mediterranean, beauty, warmth and leisure weave their spell, and nothing will ever be the same again.

    Published alongside a modern version of the same story entitled Enchanted August.

  • Meet Elizabeth and discover there is no greater happiness to be found than when lost in a wilderness of a garden, with bird cherries, lilacs, hollyhocks and lilies crowding the vision. This is her sanctuary from a host of unreasonable demands, whether from the Man of Wrath (husband), babies, servants and (worst of all horrors) house guests. Plunge into her charming diaries and be warned: you won't be able to remain indoors.

  • What on earth could have induced Mr Anstruther to fall in love with Fraulein Schmidt? He is an eligible English bachelor from a good family with great expectations; she is the plain, poor, 'spinster' daughter of a German scholar. But Rose-Marie Schmidt is also funny, intelligent, brave and gifted with an irrepressible talent for happiness. The real question is, does Mr Anstruther know how lucky he is?

  • Lucy Entwhistle and Everard Wemyss are both reeling from recent unhappiness when they meet and swiftly fall in love. Lucy is Wemyss's 'sweet girl', and to Lucy, Everard is the whole world. The only blot on Lucy's happiness is the shadowy figure of Wemyss's first wife, Vera, who died in mysterious circumstances. But it is not until the happy couple return home and begin their life of wedded bliss that Lucy really begins to wonder: what did happen to Vera?

  • ' "Oh, my dear, relations are like drugs, - useful sometimes, and even pleasant, if taken in small quantities and seldom, but dreadfully pernicious on the whole, and the truly wise avoid them" '
    Taking respite from the Man of Wrath, her children and her stifling household, Elizabeth discovers that the path to joy lies in having a garden, rather than a room, of one's own. This enchanting semi-autobiographical novel delighted readers when it first appeared in 1898 and has never been out of print since.The Penguin English Library - collectable general readers' editions of the best fiction in English, from the eighteenth century to the end of the Second World War.

  • Elizabeth von Arnim's novel "Elizabeth and Her German Garden" was first published in 1898. It was instantly popular and has gone through numerous reprints ever since.
    This story is the main character Elizabeth's diary, where she relates stories from her life, as she learns to tend to her garden. Whilst the novel has a strongly autobiographical tone, it is also very humorous and satirical, due to Elizabeth's frequent mistakes and her idiosyncratic outlook on life. She comments on the beauty of nature and shares her view on society, looking down on the frivolous fashions of her time and writing "I believe all needlework and dressmaking is of the devil, designed to keep women from study."
    The book is the first in a series about the same character.



    Elizabeth von Arnim (1866-1941), née Mary Annette Beauchamp, was a British novelist. Born in Australia, her family returned to England when she was three years old; and she was Katherine Mansfield's cousin.
    She was first married to a Prussian aristocrat, the Graf von Arnim-Schlagenthin, and later to the philosopher Bertrand Russel's older brother, Frank, whom she left a year later. She then had an affair with the publisher Alexander Reeves, a man thirty years her junior, and with H.G. Wells. Von Arnim moved a lot, living alternatively in the United Kingdom, Switzerland, Germany, Poland, before dying of influenza in South Carolina during the Second War.
    Elizabeth von Arnim was an active member of the European literary scene, and entertained many of her contemporaries in her Chalet Soleil in Switzerland. She even hired E. M. Forster and Hugh Walpole as tutors for her five children. She is famous for her half-autobiographical, satirical novel "Elizabeth and her German Garden" (1898), as well as for "Vera" (1921), and "The Enchanted April" (1922).

  • Four very different women, all wanting to escape cold and dreary London for different reasons, come together to share a month's holiday in an Italian medieval castle. There's timid Lotty Wilkins, terrified of her domineering husband; sober and religious Rose Arbuthnot; rigid and judgemental Mrs Fisher; and the breathtakingly beautiful but disillusioned and unhappy Lady Caroline Dester. They are lured to the castle by the advertised 'wisteria and sunshine', but they end up finding there so much more than they had bargained for. The place transforms them and their lives are unexpectedly changed. Von Arnim's story of their metamorphosis under the Italian sun is warm, witty, intelligent, and as enchanting as the title suggests.



    Elizabeth von Arnim (1866-1941), née Mary Annette Beauchamp, was a British novelist. Born in Australia, her family returned to England when she was three years old; and she was Katherine Mansfield's cousin.
    She was first married to a Prussian aristocrat, the Graf von Arnim-Schlagenthin, and later to the philosopher Bertrand Russel's older brother, Frank, whom she left a year later. She then had an affair with the publisher Alexander Reeves, a man thirty years her junior, and with H.G. Wells. Von Arnim moved a lot, living alternatively in the United Kingdom, Switzerland, Germany, Poland, before dying of influenza in South Carolina during the Second War.
    Elizabeth von Arnim was an active member of the European literary scene, and entertained many of her contemporaries in her Chalet Soleil in Switzerland. She even hired E. M. Forster and Hugh Walpole as tutors for her five children. She is famous for her half-autobiographical, satirical novel "Elizabeth and her German Garden" (1898), as well as for "Vera" (1921), and "The Enchanted April" (1922).

  • "... Why, it would really be being unselfish to go away and be happy for a little, because we would come back so much nicer."

    Lottie and Rose belong to the same London women's club, but they don't know each other very well. They both see the same advertisement for a castle in Italy, which is available for rent for a month. For different reasons, these women want to get away from their husbands for a while and they put out an ad and find two more women in need of vacation. And so, the four vastly different women head to Italy. But when they invite their husbands, the trouble begins...

    Light-hearted and witty, 'The Enchanted April' is the ultimate comfort read. It has been adapted to stage and film several times, notably in 1991 with the Oscar nominated movie starring Joan Plowright.

    B. J. Harrison started his Classic Tales Podcast back in 2007, wanting to breathe new life into classic stories. He masterfully plays with a wide array of voices and accents and has since then produced over 500 audiobooks. Now in collaboration with SAGA Egmont, his engaging narration of these famous classics is available to readers everywhere.

    Elizabeth von Arnim (1866-1941) was an Australian-born British novelist, who started writing to escape her first husband. She is especially known for her novel 'The Enchanted April' (1922) and the semi-autobiographical 'Vera' (1921).

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