Thursday, April 30, 2009
This was our book club book pick (for April, of course!). Oh, how I loved this book. I wish it wasn't over. I adored it.
Mrs. Wilkins and Mrs. Arbuthnot, two mild-mannered English ladies (in the 20s or so) are tired of their dreary, cold, boring, never-changing lives. One day, they see an advertisement for an Italian castle... covered in wistaria and flowers. Instantly they are captivated with the Italian fantasy, and they determine that they must go, for a month in April.
To make the trip more affordable, they ask two other ladies (strangers to them) to come along. Mrs. Fisher -- a veddy proper widow, and Lady Catherine Dester -- beautiful, bored, and dying to get away from her life.
How these four ladies overcome their various quirks and impediments and become friends, and how love blooms in unexpected places -- all due to the magic of San Salvatore -- is the central story of the book. Each character is so fully envisioned (and delightfully quirky) and so charming (or, in some cases, not), I instantly fell in love with them and cheered them on throughout the short book.
The castle itself, and the coast of Italy, is another central 'character' in the book -- providing everyone with sun, simple pleasures, abundant flowers and a special way of making the world seem a nicer place, and makes each character want to be their best self. Usually this sort of happy book would be met with eye-rolls from me; however, this particular book was nothing short of delightful and made me happy to read it. San Salvatore passed along its magic through the pages to me as well.
I loved the character of Mrs. Wilkins the best. About 30, flighty, odd, shy, mousey -- she fully blooms in the sun of Italy and becomes so sure of herself, so happy and so clear about all the good things in her life, I just wanted to be her friend, myself. She remains utterly quirky and funny, and so devoid of guile -- she lends her sunny, spontaneous love to everyone around her. I wanted to be like her, myself. It makes one think about the heavy darkness one might carry around one's self (you know, just theoretically) and how it's so not necessary. To be open and quirky and loving and generous -- so much nicer for everyone.
I loved this book, and I also love the movie of the same name. Today's the last day of April, but there's no reason why this book wouldn't be lovely in May as well.
Posted by Daphne at 4/30/2009