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Elizabeth and her German Garden (1898)

por Elizabeth von Arnim

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Séries: Elizabeth and Her German Garden (1)

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1,1015318,630 (3.84)298
This semi-autobiographical book is about the life of a young English woman who marries an ageing German aristocrat and in the marriage she focuses on her garden and children, at the same time running a country house. She also writes down her observations of the stuffy German aristocratic set using her razor sharp wit. Von Arnim was a successful author in her time and deserves to be re-discovered, this novel is a gem. In the first year of publication this book was re-printed twenty times. Von Arnim wrote another 20 books that were all published.… (mais)
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The Man of Wrath

This is the third and earliest of von Arnim’s books in my collection, and it like the others was a joy to read.

Unlike Vera which is also semi-autobiographical, this book tells of the happier marriage to a wealthy German who Elizabeth facetiously refers to as “The Man of Wrath”. Count Henning August von Arnim-Schlagenthin is portrayed as an old-fashioned boring Teuton, best ignored. And Elizabeth does her best to ignore him. She has her own way, by politely acting as if she does not even hear what he had to say, and spends her life planning and enjoying her garden in an old Pomeranian Manson.

Elizabeth and Henning have three children who are four, five and six in the book. Elizabeth calls them “babies” and refers to them by the names of the months they were born in.

Thus we have April Baby, May Baby and June Baby, Elizabeth talks about the babies in the same way as she talks about her flowers, flowers that take on childlike qualities. Bluebells peep cheekily through the snow. Petunias raise their quaint little heads in the morning.

A gardener plants the flowers. A governess looks after April Baby, May Baby and June Baby.

Elizabeth lives a life of privilege. She can do as she pleases, weather permitting. She’s a charming and witty young woman, who doesn’t tolerate fools gladly. And except for one close friend fools include her husband and most of the people she knows or whose paths cross hers.

The peasant are ignorant, less than animals and oh so annoying when they return to Russia in winter to see their families

Similar to Jane Austen’s Emma Elizabeth goes through life without a real care in the world. Unlike Emma though, Elizabeth is never sorry. Elizabeth has to be taken as one finds her. Any delving into the background of the social class structure of the time will be horrified to read of her referring to laborers as “menials”. I suggest the social squeamish stay away. An LT member reviewing the book exclaimed, “What a crock of über-privileged shit!”
As for me I found I could suspend my politics and I loved both - Elizabeth and her German Garden. ( )
2 vote kjuliff | Feb 11, 2024 |
A lovely book - not a how-to-garden book, but rather a feel-the-garden book. Von Arnim writes about her garden, her gardeners, her husband and children, and life. One of those books that makes me want to be a gardener, though I know I'd never persevere in the face of nibbling animals and constant weeding. So instead, I'll read books about gardens and admire other people's gardens.
"The people round about are persuaded that I am ... exceedingly eccentric for the news has traveled that I spend the day out of doors with a book, and that no mortal eye has ever yet seen me sew or cook."
"The giant poppies I had planted ... in April have either died off or remained quite small. ... Those borders are going to be sown tomorrow with more poppies for next year; for poppies I will have whether they like it or not."
"I love tulips more than any other spring flower; they are the embodiment of alert cheerfulness and tidy grace."
"Happiness ... invigorates and warms me into piety far more effectually than any trials and griefs, and an unexpected pleasure is the surest means of bringing me to my knees." ( )
  ReadMeAnother | Jan 18, 2024 |
I enjoyed the first 10 or 20 percent of this book, with the description of the gardens; there were a few sarcastic comments made by the main character that I took to be cheeky jokes, and could relate. However, it quickly became apparent that they weren't jokes, and the main character (along with all the other characters) was a selfish, entitled jerk.

Also, the characters are nominal Christians, so reading about them going to church and being "Christian" alongside all their unbiblical beliefs and practices was frustrating.

Since this is a piece of "semi-autobiographical" fiction (my guess is it's closer to completely autobiographical), I don't think I'll be reading more from this author. ( )
  RachelRachelRachel | Nov 21, 2023 |
This is such a weird book to encounter in my time and place, written as it is in a vastly different one -- 1898 Germany, by a member of the aristocratic class. Parts of it are lovely (Elizabeth discovering the garden and solitude and loving her April, May and June babies), parts horrifying (Elizabeth's attitude towards "lesser" beings, her staff and the peasants who are kidnapped to work on her estate), parts deeply depressing (the expectations for women, the completely accepted set of ideas that they are also lesser and that it is necessary to beat them for their own happiness), and parts just weird (the way an unwelcome houseguest is treated).

I think, honestly, that so much of this book is pointed social commentary on the time and place that she lives in that I can't really figure out how to take it. Does she really think that poor people are lesser beings? Certainly that was a perfectly unremarkable attitude for her time, but the parallels with the Man of Wrath's commentary on the lesser capabilities of women are so clearly set out that it's hard to know if she's showing her own bias or deeply criticizing both perceptions. Why is she so frustrated and uncomfortable with Minora? And why is she never referred to as an English person herself, despite the fact that she was not raised in Germany, and even the semi-fictional Elizabeth in the book was clearly raised in Britain?

I loved her descriptions of the garden and her fascination with growing things. I loved her development as a gardener. I loved that she refers to her children as 'the April baby' or 'the June baby' -- there's something really sweet about that. The audio version is very well read. I just have no idea what to think about this book on the whole. It is fascinating.

Advanced Listening copy provided by Libro.fm. ( )
  jennybeast | Sep 11, 2023 |
I’ve finally put pen to paper about this book! It seems a book that polarises opinion. I shouldn’t have read as many reviews as I did before posting, because all that did was make me doubt my thoughts! Is Elizabeth writing from a pedestal of wealth and privilege or, is she wagging her finger at that very elitism or, none of the above? Can anyone say for sure? My thoughts for what they’re worth are - Elizabeth wasn’t a gardener in the true, go get your hands dirty way but she loved her garden, loved being in it more than anything else. “What a happy woman I am living in a garden, with books , babies, birds, and flowers, and plenty of leisure to enjoy them!” Her joy in spending time reading, pottering and being with her ‘babies’ is what I took from this book. In 1898 she was lucky to able to indulge her whims because of an early marriage to a Prussian noble. She was surprisingly antisocial for the time, preferring and being perfectly happy with her own company. I don’t feel she abused that entitlement however, this is where the controversy seems to come between readers. At times I found her opinions refreshingly original. One thing I was surprised to learn, Elizabeth von Arnim was Australian, born at Kirribilli in Sydney. (I loved Enchanted April, read many years ago - 5 stars) ( )
  Fliss88 | Jul 9, 2023 |
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» Adicionar outros autores (62 possíveis)

Nome do autorPapelTipo de autorObra?Estado
Elizabeth von Arnimautor principaltodas as ediçõescalculado
Baldizzone, Gabriella BianchiTradutorautor secundárioalgumas ediçõesconfirmado
Desroussilles, François DupuigrenetTradutorautor secundárioalgumas ediçõesconfirmado
Dormagen, AdelheidTradutorautor secundárioalgumas ediçõesconfirmado
Eek, Mien vanTradutorautor secundárioalgumas ediçõesconfirmado
Howard, Elizabeth JaneIntroduçãoautor secundárioalgumas ediçõesconfirmado
May, NadiaNarradorautor secundárioalgumas ediçõesconfirmado
Pera, CristóbalTradutorautor secundárioalgumas ediçõesconfirmado
Whiteley, LaurenceArtista da capaautor secundárioalgumas ediçõesconfirmado
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May 7th. -- I love my garden.
In 1889 Henry Beauchamp took his youngest daughter May to Italy. (Introduction)
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...the dullest book takes on a certain saving grace if read out of doors, just as bread and butter, devoid of charm in the drawing-room, is ambrosia eaten under a tree.
I spend the day out of doors with a book, and no mortal eye has yet seen me sew or cook. But why cook when you can get someone to cook for you? 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.
I knew nothing whatever last year about gardening and this year know very little more, but I have dawnings of what may be done, and have at least made one great stride - from ipomaea to tea-roses. The garden was an absolute wilderness. It is all round the house, but the principal part is on the south side and has evidently always been so. The south front is one-storied, a long series of rooms opening one into the other, and the walls are covered with virginia creeper. There is a little verandah in the middle, leading by a flight of rickety wooden steps down into what seems to have been the only spot in the whole place that was ever cared for. This is a semicircle cut into the lawn and edged with privet, and in this semicircle are eleven beds of different sizes bordered with box and arranged round a sun-dial, and the sun-dial is very venerable and moss-grown, and greatly beloved by me.
If I could only dig and plant myself! How much easier, besides being so fascinating, to make your own holes exactly where you want them and put in your plants exactly as you choose instead of giving orders! ... In the first ecstasy of havinbg a garden all my own, and in my burning impatience to make the wste places blossom like a rose, I did one warm Sunday in last year's April during the servants' dinner hour, doubly secure from the gardener by the day and the dinner, slink out with a spade and a rake and feverishly dig a little piece of ground and break it up and sow surreptitious ipomaea and run back very hot and guilty into the house and get into a chair and behind a book and look languid just in time to save my reputation. And why not? 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.
Es una delicia estar triste cuando no se tienen razones para ello
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This semi-autobiographical book is about the life of a young English woman who marries an ageing German aristocrat and in the marriage she focuses on her garden and children, at the same time running a country house. She also writes down her observations of the stuffy German aristocratic set using her razor sharp wit. Von Arnim was a successful author in her time and deserves to be re-discovered, this novel is a gem. In the first year of publication this book was re-printed twenty times. Von Arnim wrote another 20 books that were all published.

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