Book to Film: The Enchanted April by Elizabeth von Arnim

As usually happens, I had watched the film before knowing that it was based on a book which I just finished reading. It was a perfect time for I have, these days, been gravitating towards women authors at the turn of the twentieth century.

Elizabeth von Arnim gets to the heart of the matter in making a study of women with their inner yearnings and the slow unfolding of their souls. It is a story of transformation akin to the blossoming of a flower.

The women, quite unhappy and set in their ways, found themselves changing little by little surrounded by the magical beauty of the Italian countryside, the lush flowers carpeting the hillside and the break from the monotony of their lives which had become dreary.

It is a book read best in an unhurried state (the better if there's wisteria and sunshine around) to appreciate it fully. The subdued winding style of writing are turned more inward, into the gradual blooming of the characters rather than the excitement wrested from twisty plots and dramatic action.

A film was released by BBC Films in 1991 and it mostly echoed the quaint descriptions and slow pace of the book. Yet it captured its intention to stir our emotions not on a grander scale but just enough.

It is a film to lift up spirits. One could almost feel the magic in the air in San Salvatore which gently brushed the hearts of these women.

One interesting fact is that it was filmed on the said Italian castle where the author stayed and wrote this novel (so I could totally imagine the battlement just outside Mrs. Fisher's sitting room where she takes her walks). It is but the closest to portray a place in the book.

I found myself stirred as well. There's a sense of satisfaction, as a woman, in knowing an author resonates the deep musings and contemplation in my head. In a way, I could put myself in their shoes and feel the same.

Just as Lotty, Rose, Mrs. Fisher and Caroline sought relief from their burdens and discovered the truly valuable matters, I, too, could find myself a little corner of heaven. And maybe, just maybe, an enchanted air is all it takes to find my balance.


Four women, all strangers, escape the dismal English weather for a month-long retreat in an Italian villa. Once there, the company of the other women along with the "wisteria and sunshine" brings each character to a heartening realization about herself.

Book Title: The Enchanted April
Author: Elizabeth von Arnim
Genre: Historical Fiction, British Literature, Romance
Published: 2009 (first published in 1922)
Publisher: Createspace
Rating: ♨♨♨ 1/2 (3 and a half cups - (Lotty is a precious creature. She is the true voice of the story.)

Film Title: Enchanted April
Director: Mike Newell
Cast: Alfred Molina, Joan Plowright, Miranda Richardson, Jim Broadbent
Release Date: 1991
Rating: ♨♨♨ 1/2 (3 and a half cups - Languid and serene. Caroline's change is more telling here.)

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