After hearing it recommended time and again and after seeing one of the characters on Downton Abbey receive a copy, I decided it was time for me to explore Elizabeth and Her German Garden. Published in 1898 and written by Elizabeth von Arnim, an Australian woman married to a German nobleman, this book had huge popularity in its day and the author went on to write many more, including Enchanted April.
I wasn't sure at first -- in the beginnning this semi-autographical book struck me as little more than the grumblings of a wealthy woman who doesn't seem to like anyone very much. But I went on, captured by the descriptions of her garden -- her plans for it and her very real eye for beauty.
And as I continued, I began to appreciate the protagonist's rebel spirit, feminist outlook, and, most of all, her dry wit. Left alone with uncongenial house guests, Elizabeth laments:
"My husband goes off after breakfast to look at his crops, he says, and I am left at their mercy. I wish I had crops to go and look at -- I should be grateful even for one, and would look at it from morning to night, and quite stare it out of countenance, sooner than stay home and have the truth told me by enigmatic aunts. . ."
I'm hooked. I downloaded six of von Arnim's novels on my Kindle (for a pittance as they're out of copyright) and am half way through The Solitary Summer. Terrific January reading!