Is Your April Enchanted?

enchanted aprilIn 1922, author Elizabeth von Armin’s novel Enchanted April was published. Surprising Elizabeth as much as anyone else, it took the book world by storm. Hailed as a “delicious confection” capable of “working its magic on all”. The story is so good that it was made into a film 70 plus years later!

The plot? Four women want to escape their unhappy marriages, at least for a while. They find themselves in Italy…

The thing is, Elizabeth wrote the novel when she was most unhappy. Her publishers wanted ‘happy’ but she had a terrible time finding it. Just out of a loveless marriage, she thought writing about happiness was an impossible goal. Eventually, she did and the result? A timeless story.

A single mother, Elizabeth was desperate to write her next novel to pay her bills. She made a decision to temporarily relocate from dreary springtime in England to lush Italy. That was the beginning of her journey to write Enchanted April. She rented an old house looking over the Italian Riviera. After experiencing something we writers can relate to, writer’s block, on April 3, 1921 she notes: “Staring open-mouthed all a.m.” But she eventually overcame her block thanks to the beauty of April surrounding her.

“She stared. Such beauty; and she there to see it. Such beauty; and she alive to feel it. Her face was bathed in light. Lovely scents came up to the window and caressed her. A tiny breeze gently lifted her hair…How beautiful, how beautiful. Not to have died before this…to have been allowed to see, breathe, feel this…She stared, her lips parted. Happy? Poor, ordinary, everyday word. But what could one say, how could one describe it?”-Elizabeth von Armin

Elizabeth was also the first to acknowledge that the novel was a far-fetched feminine fantasy.

I say, what’s wrong with a feminine fantasy? I don’t know about you but I could use one right about now.

Why am I telling you about this? Because it’s April in case you didn’t notice. April is enchanting and I almost forgot how so. Yesterday I went for a walk around my favorite part of my city. It’s the kind of day I like to take for myself and feel like a tourist in my own town. April is the right time for this, let me tell you. The sun was shining, temperatures a balmy 22 degrees (celcius), the tulips in full bloom, the cherry blossoms full and fragrant. I took a look around me and sighed with pleasure. The scents, sights and sounds of my favorite city in the whole world in April, I almost let it go by.

don't ask, don't tell?

Isn’t that what we do? We get busy or caught up in our worries and we forget not only what day it is but what month it is. April doesn’t deserve to be forgotten. Her beauty is the prelude to summer. The awakening of our senses once again.

Back to Elizabeth von Armin. I’m inspired by her story for many reasons and mainly because she is so relatable. Can we find happiness when we feel misery? Ask a woman going through divorce and it’s likely she will shake her head.

But if Elizabeth could find a grain of happiness, maybe we can too. It’s April after all.

Lottie Wilkins, the protagonist in Enchanted April, becomes a subversive force for dynamic and divine change in the lives of others. She convinces an acquaintance to escape with her to Italy. The two women have never been away from their husbands or their routine—ever. But Lottie gets this crazy idea and runs with it.

They begin to have second thoughts as we so often do when we’re about to make a big change in our life…or do something we’ve never done before. Those are usually the best moments and decisions we make.

Lottie and her new acquaintance, justifying their decision to escape to Italy;

Lottie: “It only shows…how immaculately good we’ve been all our lives. The very first time we do anything our husbands don’t know about we feel guilty.”
Mrs. Arbuthnot: “I’m afraid I can’t say I’ve been immaculately good…”
Lottie: “Oh, but I’m sure you have—I see you being good—and that’s why you’re not happy…”
Mrs. Arbuthnot: “…I’m sure you don’t mean really that goodness, if one could attain it, makes one unhappy.”
Lottie: “Yes, I do,” said Mrs. Wilkins. “Our sort of goodness does. We have attained it, and we are unhappy. There are miserable sort of goodness and happy sorts—the sort we’ll have at the mediaeval castle, for instance, is the happy sort.”

How familiar is that conversation? Fast forward 80 years and women are still having it today.

Well, Escapees, we may not be able to take off for Italy but we can think about being less good for a change and allowing April to enchant us awhile. Let Elizabeth inspire us to find a little happy this month. Whatever you do, don’t be so good you’re unhappy…

Audio-book of Enchanted April on youtube  and Amazon

More on Elizabeth von Armin

I must mention Sarah Ban Breathnach’s Romancing The Ordinary, where I read and learned more about Elizabeth’s writing process for Enchanted April.

What’s happening for you this month of April? Are you feeling enchanted?

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30 Replies to “Is Your April Enchanted?”

  1. Hi Lisa,

    I found more than two things enchanting in this post – your upbeat mood, which is necking out to admire the blossoms all around us, your wonderful way of relating fiction to real life and deriving pleasure from such an old story…certain things never change!! And human behavior is definitely one of them. It has remained as it has been for times immemorial.

    I am glad you are enjoying this lovely month…all nature lovers would feel exhilarated by the beauty of April. 🙂 Thanks for spreading the smiles.

    1. Hi Balroop, thank you so much. I guess we don’t change as much as we think over time. Yes, April is a beautiful month, although today it is rainy, cool and high winds. So there goes my hopes for Spring 😛

  2. Lisa, I always feel better when I take a walk, even if raining or snowing!
    A walk around the city is interesting and stimulating. Nature is particularly rejuvenating. There is part “release” of our burdens and part “intake” of things outside ourselves. There are songs about “breathe in, breathe out” which have symbolism beyond this process in walking and taking breaths. 🙂

    1. Nicely expressed, Robin. I agree! I love the outdoors year round no matter the weather. Fresh air is tonic for my brain. Thanks for sharing!

  3. I am happily married, but even I can see the beauty of this story! I was just remembering how a year ago this week, Cassidy went to the Amazon for ten days. It was rough! It made me wonder when my adventurous, nature trek is.

    1. Hey Tamara, it’s hard single parenting when the kids are little (or any time for that matter 🙂 ) Sounds like it’s your turn to get away with some girl friends. Want to take a trip to Italy with me? 😉

  4. Woah, woah, woah, Lisa.

    I feel like. I need to read this. April 3rd is my birthday, the protagonist’s name is Lottie (my nickname), and I’m looking for a good read about love and life and friendships the meaning of it all.

    Thanks so much for sharing this–I have just put a request in at my local library.

    <3

    1. There ya go!! I haven’t actually read the book but it’s on my list. I saw the movie and really enjoyed it back in the ’90’s but I would probably appreciate the book even more. Let me know what you think of it!

  5. April is indeed gorgeous right now here in Alabama. We had a strange Winter — one that never got really cold, and many things started popping up before they were supposed to. Now we have already had a lot of blooms, some are beginning to fade, others just emerging. My favorite place is the screen porch where I can see most of the back garden.

    1. Hi Ellen, Oh, your screened porch sounds like a dream! Can I come over for a glass of wine? Or as one of my friends calls it “A glasso” 🙂

    1. Yes, it’s raining pink this time of year. All the blooms start to blow off in a spring storm making for pink paths and sidewalks. Pretty PINK!

  6. Hi Lisa,

    I can’t believe I haven’t read this book or seen the movie. Looks like I’m missing out. I just picked up another Stephen King book but after that, I’m going to get this book.

    As far as me feeling enchanted this month, I’d have to say things have been good so far. I’ve had to deal with stuff on the home front but I try not to let that get to me by looking at all the positives going on.

    I need to take your advice and just walk around the city and enjoy my surroundings. 🙂

    Thanks for sharing this Lisa. Have a great April!

    Cori

    1. Hi Cori, Stephen King? Scary stuff. He’s amazing. I have to read Enchanted April as well, I’m also missing out. The movie was really great! Good for you for seeing the positive in spite of the challenges. ENJOY your April 🙂

  7. Hello Lisa,

    Gosh, this story is must to be read and the movie to watch out.
    This story sounds very interesting. My elder siblings birthday is approaching next week, in April.
    Planning to gift her this novel or the movie, what ever I would be getting.
    She would love this story as she enjoy to read stories regarding such a topics.

    Thanks for sharing this among us.
    Shantanu sinha

    1. Well now that the weather has changed, I’m less enchanted too 😛 It will come…it will come…repeat after me…

  8. I had to chuckle because you’re like the lone part of Canada that gets some sort of spring like weather and I just wrote a whiny post about it. HAHAH!!
    You make me want to love April so hard. So. Very. Hard.
    This book does sound like a really good read though. Maybe allow me to escape this dreary weather we have going on here – actually, it is supposed to get warm on the weekend! Hey, I did not wear socks the other day. That’s a bonus!

    1. So true, Kim! I totally get what you’re talking about. I lived on the Prairies for over 20 years and believe me, I know the pain that April is. It seems like winter won’t actually end. You notice the unfurling of the first green leaf as though it were the very birth of Jesus. No shit.

      I actually tried to find the book at a used book store but no luck. May have to special order it. I hope the weather improves for you out East and that you get yourself some spring in April!

  9. I’ve never read this book but I want to now. I think feminine fantasy is great. We all do need a fantasy to escape the very real hardships we face, not only in marriage but life in general.

    1. So true, Marcia! Hope your April is lovely and ‘springy’. I’ve no doubt it’s hard time for you with the beauty of spring in spite of your loss. Sending out some spring time hugs to you!

  10. Hi Lisa,

    I do enjoy April walks but mostly night time, when the scent from the flowers is stronger. As for the book now, it sounds really interesting and the conversation is not far away from what we experience now. There is nothing wrong with women having fantasy. After reading this, the big question is “How much progress have we done as society?”. Beautiful post, thank you for sharing!

    Zaria

    1. Hi Zaria, Oooh, the scent of April is lovely and evening walks a nice way to end the day. Great question. I think we have progressed a great deal but the core of our being remains the same.

  11. Lovely post, Lisa! I loved both the book and the movie–but it’s been so long that I experienced both, now I have a book on my list to re-read! 🙂 As for what’s inspiring me this month, that’s a great question…I think that something I’m trying to work on–cherishing good moments in my life, when the stress of grunt of parenting, work, coparenting can get me down. To remember my girls will only be this little once, and enjoy the moments, even if it’s time to go to bed to wake up for the next morning commute. I had a nice lunch with two girlfriends yesterday…spending time with good friends for share laughter and time and fun conversation…that’s important, too! <3. Thanks for reminding me to think of cherishing the good things, the inspirations in life. <3

    1. Hi Jane, it’s been a long time since I saw the movie as well. I haven’t read the book but have added it to my TBR shelf.

      You rock!! Gratitude is always a good way to get through tough situations. Focusing on the good stuff because there’s always good stuff!

  12. Thanks so much for sharing this, I’m going to put it on my to-read list!! April has been lovely over this way–we’ve had a few days that have actually reached 70 degrees which is enchantment enough for me!;-)

    1. Hi Jess, I think you’ll enjoy the story 🙂 It sure feels nice the first day we can walk around without a jacket. Enjoy spring time in NY!!

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