Saturday, July 19, 2008

Von Arnim, Rediscovered

About a year before California happened for me I was reading a daily devotional with my mother by Sarah Ban Breathnach entitled "Simple Abundance: A Daybook of Comfort and Joy." (They don't have it for my Kindle yet, but...) At one point in Ban Breathnach's writings she mentions a book that she recommends, called "The Enchanted April."

I didn't go out and pick up the book right away, but one day at the Greene County Library I thought, "Hey, what's that book I was going to look up? Some woman with three words in her name. Something about an April." I approached the librarian's desk with the same shyness as Francie Nolan and offered my scanty information for the search.

"THE ENCHANTED APRIL!" the woman cried out. "Yes, Yes! You will absolutely LOVE it!" We located the book, I checked it out with my white and green library card, and away I went. It sat on my end table a few days, and then I took it out to the balcony, with Bess in one slouch chair and I in the hammock chair among our mint and container garden flowers, and I started to read.

I DID fall in love. The prose was simple, pure, the narrator honest and innocent, and the setting downright restorative. (And nope, I am NOT going to tell you the premise of the book. Go find the damn thing. You'll need it.) It became my second favorite book of all time (after "A Tree Grows In Brooklyn," that is, but that book has the same wonder in child form); ripe with optimism and travel and sunshine and sea and did I mention travel? "The Enchanted April" gave me a world to hope for seeing.

Somewhat jaded by the experience of California, I smiled with new and different hope when I was browsing the Kindle bookstore this morning and found among my recommendations Elizabeth Von Arnim, "The Solitary Summer." Looks good. Bought that. Then I did a book search by author.

My God.

There's my girl. :)

*Little known fact about Von Arnim, by the way...she is the cousin of another down-under writer named Katherine Mansfield.

Ah, my sweet Lord, let the gift of April restoreth my soul. I want the innocence and hope of world travel back.

Take me out of the warehouse and to a sea cliff.

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