Saturday, November 5, 2022

Elizabeth and Her German Garden by Elizabeth von Arnim

✍🏼 Elizabeth von Arnim, neé Mary Annette Beauchamp was born in Australia. But then she married a German Count, and moved to Nassenheide, Pomerania, as Countess von Arnim-Schlagenthin.

✍🏼 Von Arnim wrote Elizabeth and Her German Garden as a mockery to German aristocratic society. It's a semi autobiographical novel, written as a diary of the protagonist, Elizabeth, who was developing a beautiful garden on the estate, though she knew almost nothing about gardening.

✍🏼 I enjoyed the book so much for three reasons: a) At times it's so hilarious, I had often to stifle my laughter while reading in public. b) It talks much about gardening, and though I'm not keen on the subject, I love everything concerning nature. c) I loved most of Elizabeth's unorthodox views on life and tradition, which I can well relate. I quote here some of her entries, which is bluntly honest and hilarious.

“I believe all needlework and dressmaking is of the devil, designed to keep women from study.”

"If you have to have neighbours at all, it is at least a mercy that there should be only one; for with people dropping in at all hours and wanting to talk to you, how are you to get on with your life, I should like to know, and read your books, and dream your dreams to your satisfaction?"

"I never could see that delicacy of constitution is pretty, either in plants or women."

"What nonsense it is to talk about the equality of the sexes when the women have the babies."

"To most German Hausfraus the dinners and the puddings are of paramount importance [...] but, I would humbly inquire, are there not other things even more important? And is not plain living and high thinking better than the other way about? [...] It cannot be right to be the slave of one's household gods, and I protest that if my furniture ever annoyed me by wanting to be dusted when I want to be doing something else, and there was no one to do the dusting for me, I should cast it all into the nearest bonfire and sit and warm my toes at the flames with great contentment, triumphantly selling my dusters to the very next pedlar who was weak enough to buy them. [...] is it not pathetic to find a young woman bravely struggling to learn languages and keep up with her husband?"

✍🏼 It's a short but entertaining novel, and I can't wait to read more of von Arnim. The Enchanted April is next. Maybe next year?

Rating: 4,5 / 5


  1. So glad you've discovered von Arnim too Fanda - isn't she a delight?

    1. She's certainly is, witty with a bit sarcasm. My heroine! :))


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