It's so personal, so musical. It has that sweet, lilting quality that I appreciated so much from Dorothy Edwards. But where Dorothy displayed promise, Elizabeth fully achieved her vision. But I must confess to having felt sometimes quite crushed when some grand person, examining the details of my home through her eyeglass, and coolly dissecting all that I so much prize from the convenient distance of the open window, has finished up by expressing sympathy with my loneliness, and on my protesting that I like it, has murmured, "sebr anspruchslos.
The passion for being for ever with one's fellows, and the fear of being left for a few hours alone, is to me wholly incomprehensible. I can entertain myself quite well for weeks together, hardly aware, except for the pervading peace, that I have been alone at all. Not but what I like to have people staying with me for a few days, or even for a few weeks, should they be as anspruchslos as I am myself, and content with simple joys; only, any one who comes here and would be happy must have something in him; if he be a mere blank creature, empty of head and heart, he will very probably find it dull.
I should like my house to be often full if I could find people capable of enjoying themselves. They should be welcomed and sped with equal heartiness; for truth compels me to confess that, though it pleases me to see them come, it pleases me just as much to see them go. On some very specially divine days, like today, I have actually longed for some one else to be here to enjoy the beauty with me. There has been rain in the night, and the whole garden seems to be singing--not the untiring birds only, but the vigorous plants, the happy grass and trees, the lilac bushes--oh, those lilac bushes!
They are all out to-day, and the garden is drenched with the scent. I have brought in armfuls, the picking is such a delight, and every pot and bowl and tub in the house is filled with purple glory, and the servants think there is going to be a party and are extra nimble, and I go from room to room gazing at the sweetness, and the windows are all flung open so as to join the scent within to the scent without; and the servants gradually discover that there is no party, and wonder why the house should be filled with flowers for one woman by herself, and I long more and more for a kindred spirit-- it seems so greedy to have so much loveliness to oneself--but kindred spirits are so very, very rare; I might almost as well cry for the moon.
It is true that my garden is full of friends, only they are--dumb. If only I could write back to her! View all 14 comments. May 29, Diane rated it really liked it Shelves: A lovely novel about an English noblewoman who lives in a house in Germany with a beautiful garden. Elizabeth dislikes her husband -- who she calls the Man of Wrath -- and she keeps a wicked and humorous commentary in her diary entries. She prefers to spend as much of her day as possible outdoors in the garden, even on the coldest days of winter, and gets labeled as eccentric by her neighbors.
The book has so many marvelous quotes that I would have made countless notes in the margins if I hadn't A lovely novel about an English noblewoman who lives in a house in Germany with a beautiful garden. The book has so many marvelous quotes that I would have made countless notes in the margins if I hadn't been reading a library book.
But why cook when you can get some one to cook for you?
- Burst into life.
- Elizabeth and Her German Garden.
- The HHOPP Engine.
And as for sewing, the maids will hem the sheets better and quicker than I could, and all forms of needlework of the fancy order are inventions of the evil one for keeping the foolish from applying their hearts to wisdom. Yet my town acquaintances look upon it as imprisonment, and burying, and I don't know what besides, and would rend the air with shrieks if condemned to such a life. Sometimes I feel as if I were blest above all my fellows in being able to find my happiness so easily. I believe I should always be good if the sun always shone, and could enjoy myself very well in Siberia on a fine day.
I never could see that delicacy of constitution is pretty, either in plants or in women. I can entertain myself quite well for weeks together, hardly aware, except for the pervading peace, that I have been alone at all I like to have people staying with me for a few days, or even a few weeks, should they be as undemanding as I am myself, and content with simple joys; only, any one who comes here and would be happy must have something in him; if he be a mere blank creature, empty of head and heart, he will very probably find it dull.
It is dull work giving orders and trying to describe the bright visions of one's brain to a person who has no visions and no brain. Apr 03, Hilary rated it it was ok Shelves: After enjoying Enchanted April so much I was suprised I didn't enjoy this one. I found Elizabeth unkind and shallow. Taking a baby owl from a nest was horrible.
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I know you have to view this through eyes of the time but I found her views of people from a class she saw as below her awful. View all 8 comments. This is a book to disappear into and I did. Where Virginia Woolf said that women need a room of their own, von Arnim makes a strong case for a garden as that most necessary of settings. As Voltaire before her said that happiness lies in the cultivation of a garden; as Cicero said that if you have a garden and a library you have everything you need; as the garden was where Jane Austen went and refreshed herself and as gardens frequently featured in both her novels and her letters, Elizabeth von A This is a book to disappear into and I did.
As Voltaire before her said that happiness lies in the cultivation of a garden; as Cicero said that if you have a garden and a library you have everything you need; as the garden was where Jane Austen went and refreshed herself and as gardens frequently featured in both her novels and her letters, Elizabeth von Arnim is in good company in that little subculture of writers who seem to enter into magical worlds in both their books and in their gardens.
In her writing style, too, I heard echoes of Austen.
Like Woolf, however, she was also ahead of her times, voicing defiant feminist views and caring little what everyone else thought. This is what she had to say about working in a garden when she was expected to languish prettily indoors: It is not graceful, and it makes one hot; but it is a blessed sort of work, and if Eve had had a spade in Paradise and known what to do with it, we should not have had all that sad business of the apple. I managed to read a bit of this book in my own garden the other day, when we finally had a spot of what might be termed summer.
With the roses in bloom, and with their fragrances wafting hither and dither, it was the perfect setting for this lovely little book. View all 7 comments. Aug 22, Hana rated it liked it Shelves: Elizabeth is the young wife of a minor Prussian nobleman whose estate in Northern Germany near the Baltic is the setting for the garden she is planning. She fills the house with lilacs and rejoices in fields of daisies an Elizabeth is the young wife of a minor Prussian nobleman whose estate in Northern Germany near the Baltic is the setting for the garden she is planning.
She fills the house with lilacs and rejoices in fields of daisies and dandelions.
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When her children appear, they are charming and funny; three girls, all under the age of six and amusingly nicknamed April baby, May baby and June baby. From time to time her husband, dubbed the Man of Wrath, makes an appearance, putting a damper on things but doing little to earn his moniker. Here she wanders through the family gardens, terrified lest a relative emerge to find her trespassing. In flashbacks we glimpse her as a solitary child, meet her stern grandfather and equally stern, but more beloved, father. Alas, winter is inevitable, especially in the north of Germany, and Elizabeth in winter is a different creature altogether.
I found the months spent in her snowbound house a vaguely claustrophobic experience. Elizabeth and her friend Irais amuse themselves by casting serious shade on another guest of house, an utterly clueless English art student named Minora. The hapless Minora is also writing a book: It sounds well, and would be correct. Or Jottings from German Journeyings --I haven't quite decided yet We remained untouched by its beauties, each buried in an easy-chair toasting our toes at the fire.
Amongst those toes were those of the Man of Wrath, who sat peaceably reading a book and smoking Won't you try, Herr Sage? By the end of January, I was heartily sick of the whole lot of them. Buddy read with Tadiana, Jeannette and Carolien. Special thanks to Tadiana for serving as our German translator.
Recommended by Karlyne Landrum and Jane Steen View all 26 comments.
Elizabeth and Her German Garden by Elizabeth von Arnim
Jun 08, Kelly rated it really liked it Shelves: This was my favorite thing I read this year. I wrote more about why here, at Book Riot: Where I got the book: It is about a woman called Elizabeth who has moved, with her husband and children, to their country estate in a remote part o Where I got the book: It is about a woman called Elizabeth who has moved, with her husband and children, to their country estate in a remote part of Germany.
Elizabeth dislikes the indoors with its responsibilities, servants and other interruptions, and spends most of the time reading in her garden. She does not actually garden, being a lady; she says on several occasions that she wishes she could just get a spade and dig instead of having to give instructions.
I got a very sharp impression of the restrictions on a lady's life in the late s. In describing her garden, Elizabeth gives the reader glimpses of her own past and present, and of her husband dubbed "the Man of Wrath" and her "babies," her three young daughters. It occurred to me at some point that if Elizabeth Von Arnim had been alive today, this would not have been a novel but a blog, because that's exactly what it resembles.
As a novel it really doesn't have a whole lot of structure, but its charm comes precisely from the juxtaposition of the freedom and beauty of the natural world with that of a wealthy aristocrat who cannot escape all of her duties. Elizabeth Von Arnim was evidently a very cosmopolitan woman, and that shows in the novel. In fact, from reading the novel I would have thought her an aristocratic German raised, as many were, by English and French governesses.
We tend to forget that the Gilded Age society was extremely well traveled and spoke several languages. But I read in her biographical note that the novel is "semi-autobiographical" and maybe this is one way in which the author distances herself from the text. That's what intrigued me, and if I can find a biography of Von Arnim that untangles truth from fiction, I'll definitely read it. After the initial chapters which are more about the garden than anything else, there is a wonderful November chapter in which Elizabeth returns to her father's house, a train ride away, and deciding not to call upon the cousins who inherited the property which was entailed, meaning that she lost her father and her home at the same time wanders around the garden in the damp fog.
The episode ends splendidly when she thinks she has encountered her own ghost. Then follows a winter episode where Elizabeth has to entertain two guests, a close friend and a woman foisted upon her. Here we see the more acid, worldly side of Elizabeth, and learn more about the Man of Wrath who has evidently earned his nickname. Even though it could reasonably be claimed that Elizabeth acted very bitchily toward her unwanted guest, I did find myself sympathizing with her.
This edition did have a few errors, especially in the rendering of the German words with which Von Arnim liberally sprinkles her prose. Readers who do not know German might want to look for a footnoted edition with translations, or have an electronic translator handy. I have downloaded the next book, The Solitary Summer. I think I've become a fan. View all 12 comments. This story is available for free at http: It began with the statement: May 7th - I love my garden. Well, so do I. The story was first published in but the years soon melted away.
Her memoir was loaded with those funny long sentences containing plenty of commas, semi-colons and dashes that were in fashion back then. It covered one year in the life of Elizabeth von Arnim. The moral to this story?
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Truth is often stranger than fiction. Elizabeth married a widowe This story is available for free at http: Elizabeth married a widower twice her age and referred to her first three children as the April baby, the May baby and the June baby. Her husband was called the Man Of Wrath. Apparently, during this era, reading was an occupation for men; for women it was a reprehensible waste of time.
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They are usually devoid of veiled hints and double-entendres. This is a mistake that must be overcome by English speakers who might be making their first forays into romantic correspondence and have it coincide with a deepening interest in poetry. Clearly say what is on your heart! Explore the ins and outs of letter-writing in German. Discover German alphabet letters and the impact of the spelling reform.
The act of offering a present is called oblation , which originally was and, in some contexts, still is a religious term referring specifically to the presentation of money or donation of goods to the church. A cheap and totally useless present? In s slang, that was a toe-cover. A gift given to a houseguest, or a gift given by a guest to their host, is called a xenium. Quaaltagh was actually borrowed into English in the s from Manx, the Celtic-origin language spoken on the Isle of Man—a tiny island located halfway between Britain and Ireland in the Irish Sea.
It was on the Isle of Man that festive tradition dictates that the identity of the first person you see or the first to enter your house on Christmas or New Year morning will have some bearing on the events of the year to come. And in Manx culture, the person you meet on that early-morning encounter is called the quaaltagh. And just like the quaaltagh, tradition dictates that the identity of the lucky-bird has an important bearing on the success of the year to come: Men are the most fortuitous lucky-birds; depending on region, either dark-haired or light-haired men might be favored but dark-haired is more common.
Photo illustration by Mental Floss. Schatzi One of the most common terms is Schatzi , or little treasure. Schmusebacke What else can you smooch, or rather smooosh? Schumsebacke is "shmoosh cheeks. Schnuckelschneke Schnecke is a snail, and while snails may not rank high in adorability for English pet names, they show up a lot in German ones. Schnuckiputzi The best way to translate Schnuckiputzi is simply "cutie pie. Schnurzelpurzel You can get carried away with the repetitive rhyming potential of these terms, leading to nonsense but somehow perfect ones like Schnurzelpurzel.
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