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Elizabeth and Her German Garden (1898) Paperback – July 13, 2006

4.1 out of 5 stars 57 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Review

"Unusual in the way that the sympathetic female narrator either cheerfully disregarded or, more often than not, gently mocked her husband and family. The book was a wild success and by 1899 it had run through 21 editions." Independent "A witty tale about marrying a richer, older man and finding liberation from a stifling world of elitism through gardening. It was a risky tale for its time, and still feels modern on both love and the garden." Guardian "Delightful" Evening Standard "The psychology is shrewd and adroit and the dialogue is witty" Irish Times "Elizabeth von Arnim had a neat wit, a wild sense of comedy, and a vision - continually thwarted though it was - of potential happiness." Sunday Times --This text refers to the Audio CD edition.

About the Author

Elizabeth von Arnim Russell (1866–1941), born Mary Annette Beauchamp, was an Australian-born British novelist. By marriage she became Gräfin (Countess) von Arnim-Schlagenthin, and by a second marriage, Countess Russell. Although known in her early life as Mary, "after the publication of her first book, she was known to her readers, eventually to her friends, and finally even to her family as Elizabeth." and she is now invariably referred to as Elizabeth von Arnim. She also wrote under the pen name Alice Cholmondeley. In 1898 she started her literary career by publishing Elizabeth and Her German Garden, a semi-autobiographical novel about a rural idyll published anonymously and, as it turned out to be highly successful, reprinted 20 times within the first year. Von Arnim wrote another 20 books, which were all published "By the author of Elizabeth and Her German Garden". Enchanted April was adapted into an Academy Award-nominated feature film, directed by Mike Newell, in 1992, and a Tony Award-nominated stage play by Matthew Barber, in 2003. Her book Mr. Skeffington was made into a movie starring Bette Davis and Claude Rains in 1944. --This text refers to the Audio CD edition.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 264 pages
  • Publisher: Book Jungle (July 13, 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1594621829
  • ISBN-13: 978-1594621826
  • Product Dimensions: 7.5 x 0.6 x 9.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (57 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #8,968,407 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
Elizabeth, a young middle class English woman catches the eye of Count von Arnim, a land rich (40,000 acres) cash poor Pussian gentleman considerably older than her. Her memoir of her life on the country estate, trying to recreate an English garden in the unforgiving climate and soil of Northern Gemany is revealing not only in its picture of "Woman put in her place" but the rigid society in which she lives. Dealing with three babies (each 13 months apart), a cynical, smug (you want to smack him) husband, conventions (as the lady of the estate she could only direct the gardner, never soil her own hands) she struggles valiantly to establish her own personae. Yes, she probably was not an easy person to live with - some of her own nastiness comes through, but read as a blunt portrayal women's roles at that time, you have compassion for her. The book was her first and a best seller in its day.
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By A Customer on February 11, 2001
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This book was referred to in Rosamunde Pilcher's "The Shell Seekers". It sounded interesting to me and so I ordered it.
Since it was written in 1898, it tells of a life very different than any today. As an Englishwoman, it was difficult for her to live in the stuffy German society in the city. Having a garden and house in the country where she did quite what she wanted kept her sane. Of course, having a houseful of servants helped.
She has a wonderful sense of humor while describing all the little things that she cannot do as the lady of the house. It must have been a very difficult situation.
I loved the term she gave her husband, "The Man of Wrath". I'm going to look for more books by this author.
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Format: Paperback
This is the story of Elizabeth, who speaks in a facetious and teasing manner...her husband sees her as typical "woman", therefore he can laugh at her and be charmed with her ways...she sees him as "the man of wrath", bound by natural laws to be serious, to be the dose of practicality. These may be stereo-typical views of the sexes, after all, the book was written in 1898. Elizabeth is writing in a biographical, journal style, telling of her days preparing their country estate to be inhabited by her and her "babies". She indulges in "the purest selfishness" by daydreaming with books in her garden. The story is full of sweet, endearing moments. She was an avid reader and has interesting comments on where certain authors are best read; she tells charming stories of her children and their ideas about the "Lieber Gott", and has a, sometimes, sharp sense of humor in regards to the people who will come and disrupt her solitary lifestyle. I would strongly recommend any of her other books you can find-particularly Solitary Summer (which is a continuation of this story), Mr. Skeffington, Enchanted April, and Jasmine Farm
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By C. L Wilson on November 16, 2005
Format: Paperback
This is a most wonderful piece. I love the way Elizabeth always calls her husband the Man of Wrath; I love her wit; I love her descriptions of the forest silence and the Baltic Sea in winter; her children are always the April baby, the May baby, the June baby. Her writing is filled with phrases which could be lifted whole and put in a book of quotes full of wise words. Should be a classic, instead of moldering on a shelf. Thank god I own it! Probably written around 1900.
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Format: Paperback
Three friends and I searched for books by Elizabeth several years ago. Almost all our copies were found in used and/or antique bookstores. It was wonderful fun to find a rare book by Elizabeth, but even more wonderful was to have a chance to read each of her 22 books! They are all marvelous, but Elizabeth and Her German Garden, Solitary Summer, The Enchanted April, Vera, and Love are some of my favorites. There are two biographies of Elizabeth, and I encourage reading them if you want to know more about this highly intelligent and accomplished woman. One biography is 'Elizabeth' by Karen Usborne, the other Elizabeth of the German Garden by Leslie de Charms (one of Elizabeth's daughters). Two of her books have been made into movies, "Enchanted April" and "Mr. Skeffington". I am so pleased to see some of her books back in print! I own all 22 and plan to reread all of them in the near future. I hope that Elizabeth will be rediscovered by a whole new generation of women...and men too.
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Format: Paperback
To me, this is much the best of Von Arnim's writing. Describing the joys and tribulations of a young English woman marrying a German aristocrat she centres on the haphazard creation of her garden and the activities of her children in an examination of European mores.

Her tone is anything but dusty. A top-selling author of her day she seems to have more in common with - the best - Sunday newspaper columnists of today than with her contemporaries. She battles both with chauvinism and the demands of running a country house which threaten to quell her free-wheeling attitude to life, in a style as fresh as it was at the turn of the century.
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Format: Paperback
I read this story at the 'math.cornell.edu' website for free.

It began with the statement: May 7th - I love my garden. Well, so do I.

The story was first published in 1898 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? Truth is often stranger than fiction.

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. Elizabeth was considered by the villagers to be an eccentric because *gasp!* she could spend her day out of doors with a book. Apparently, during this era, reading was an occupation for men; for women it was a reprehensible waste of time. Shhh, don't tell anyone but I have been guilty of this.

Like Elizabeth, when I am outside, my thoughts sometimes drift to my childhood. For her it was about daisies and daffodils and her eleven o'clock bread. Her father whom she passionately loved, her grumpy grandfather and her enchanted years between two and eighteen.

In her garden she reminisced about happy frogs, owls having conversations and roses. In my garden you could find a murder of crows, a knot of toads and some gopher tortoises digging holes. With some beetles, crickets and spiders.

I loved the author's first lesson on buying (too much) seed and trying to grow morning glories. The invention of cabbage salad and the superiority of the Teuton (her husband?) and 'the music he makes after eating his meal'.
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