Notable Books of the Twenties: The Enchanted April – Elizabeth von Arnim (1923)

A sun-drenched ode to the transformative power of travel, The Enchanting April is enchanting. Published at a time when international travel was beginning to take off, it was a huge bestseller on both sides of the Atlantic and set off a tourism boom to Portofino, on the Italian Riviera, where it is set.

It follows four very different women who respond to an ad in the paper appealing ‘to Those who Appreciate Wisteria and Sunshine’ and want to live in an Italian castle for a month. The only thing they have in common is a shared dissatisfaction with their respective home lives.

As they get to know each other, their unhappinesses are washed clean by the sun and they find new joys (and loves) in places they never knew existed. In many ways it is a pioneering example of the classic friendship psychodrama you can buy in any airport bookshop today.

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