The Solitary Summer by Elizabeth von Arnim

If you want to read a book about the beauty of summer and the struggle of gardening, about something and nothing, then you may pick this up and forget the time.

The Solitary Summer follows her journey in Elizabeth and her German Garden, where she accounted her time learning gardening and interacting with nature and friends. As also reflected in Elizabeth von Arnim's other book, Enchanted April, her writing conjures serene images of flowers in bloom and shafts of sunlight, of lying on the grass by the pond, of reading for hours under the shade of a tree and the effects of these languid habits on the soul.

In this short book, she related her witty conversations with the Man of Wrath, her exchanges with previously hired gardeners, the way of life of the villagers, funny arguments with her own conscience and best of all, her love of books and traipses at the garden.

In the days leading to the summer months, she remarked on the desire to spend the season alone without visitors to disturb her so that in solitude "her soul may grow". This she did as she reveled in her space and idle hours taking forest walks and picking flowers. She brought along books that needed the fresh air to come to life like a volume of Thoreau.

Full of philosophical musings, scenic description and summer scents, this lyrical account is a delight for the solitary soul with scattered flavor of countryside life and eccentric anecdotes from the author herself.


This delightful companion to the famous Elizabeth and Her German Garden is a witty, lyrical account of a rejuvenating summer. Descriptions of magnificent larkspurs and burning nasturtiums give way to those of cooling forest walks, and of clambering up the mud bank when the miller is not in view. Rainy days prompt a little philanthropy, until the sun returns the gardener to the refuge of her beloved plants. Yet the months are not as solitary as she'd planned—there's the Man of Wrath to pacify and the April, May, and June babies to amuse.

Title: The Solitary Summer
Author: Elizabeth von Arnim
Genre: Autobiographical, Classic, Gardening
Published: February 1993 (first published 1899)
Publisher: Little, Brown Book Company
Rating: ♨♨♨ 1/2 (3 and half cups - Slow in pace but rich with descriptions of the delights found in having a garden.)