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Study Guide for The Enchanted April (1922)

Written by "Elizabeth" of Elizabeth and Her German Garden or Mary Annette Beauchamp Von Arnim Russell, Countess of Russell, often called "Elizabeth Von Arnim"

A Study Guide by Cathy Decker

©Cathy Decker, 1998
Last Update 7/2/03

Links of Interest

Project Gutenberg's Exext of Von Arnim's Elizabeth and Her German Garden

A Celebration of Women Writers' text of Enchanted April

A site on the film of Enchanted April [Note: The film changes parts of the ending of the novel, as well as some of the characters and their motivation.] More reviews/discussions of the film: 1 2

This novel also is now a Broadway play; see this site for a review of the play.

Questions on the Novel

(answer them as you read; no answers are available--the benefit comes from trying to answer these!)

Chapter 1

What is the point of view of the novel?

What is the tone of the narrator's language?

What does it mean when the narrator tells us Mrs. Wilkins' looks like "a perfect sight"?

What does Mr. Wilkins' obsession with food and thrift about everything but food tell us about him?

What signs do we have that Mr. Wilkins does not understand his wife?

What signs do we have that Mrs. Wilkins has hidden values and depths not readily seen at parties
or by her husband?

What is Mrs. Arbuthnot's mental life like?

How do Mrs. Arbuthnot and Mrs. Wilkins differ in their view of heaven?

Why does Mrs. Wilkins want to rent the castle?

Why doesn't Mrs. Arbuthnot think they should?

Why does Mrs. Wilkins assert both women are miserable? Is this true?

omnibus (public bus), dilapidated (decayed, run down), mackintosh (raincoat), sole (a
type of fish you eat), alliance (a bond or connection), pithy (compact but meaningful), prudent (wise, careful), marshalling (directing, ranking, organizing), refectory tables (a dining hall table), lank (thin, limp), Chatsworth (huge ducal estate, big showplace), villa (small suburban home), exposition (discourse that explains things), luminous (glowing, enlightening), vicar (an Episcopal minister), impetuous (impulsive), wobbly (rocking, unsteady), nest-egg (money saved for retirement or an emergency), pro tem (temporarily), forbearances (acts of patience and endurance), agitatedly (nervously, moving in shakes and jerks)

Chapter 2

Why is Mrs. Arbuthnot so disturbed by Mrs. Wilkins' conversation?

What is Mrs. Wilkins' theory about being good?

Why is Mrs. Arbuthnot estranged from her husband?

Why does Mrs. Arbuthnot look forward to old age?
Why can't Mrs. Arbuthnot classify Frederick?

incoherent (disordered, inconsistent), impelled (driven forward, often by a moral force), furtive (secret, stolen), alleviation (partially remove or correct), seer (one who sees, one with great moral insight, a prophet), purged (cleared of guilt), stout (strong, sturdy), jovial(good-humored)

Chapter Three

Why do Mrs. Arbuthnot and Mrs. Wilkins lie to their friends about the castle?

What does Mrs. Wilkins assume about Frederick?

What does Mr. Briggs think of Mrs. Arbuthnot?

Why don't Mrs. Arbuthnot and Mrs. Wilkins initially want Lady Caroline to go to Italy with them?

Why does Mrs. Fisher want references?

What does Mrs. Wilkins mean when she says Mrs. Fisher will "find her level" at the castle?

battlements solicitor vistas reminiscent self-indulgence vouchsafed nimbus plover sonorously inarticulately anniliating acute candor

Chapter Four

What's wrong with starting a trip on April 1st?

What is Mr. Wilkins' reaction to the proposed trip?

What does Mrs. Arbuthnot think her husband will think of the trip?

Why does Mr. Wilkins' propose to take his wife on a vacation?

What is Mr. Wilkins' opinion of his wife?

Why are Mrs. Wilkins and Mrs. Arbuthnot more miserable than before in March?

What is Mrs. Wilkins' moral opinion of the trip? Mrs. Arbuthnot's? What is your own moral opinion
of the trip?

disinclination precedent zeal vileness dumbfounded credence tube brow-beaten obstinacy blustering roost acerbity

Chapter Five

What is the path to San Salvadore symbolic of?

Why does Lottie kiss Rose?

Why does this please Domenico?

vociferously amply reverie patios boisterous elucidatory fly clamor prop gesticulate prevarication quay

Chapter Six

What does Lottie particularly enjoy about her bedroom?

What is Lottie's opinion of San Salvatore?

What is the significance of Lottie's inability to imagine Mellersh?

Why does Lottie feel it was silly not to want Lady Caroline or Mrs. Fisher to come to the castle?

What is Lady Caroline like?

What does Lady Caroline think of Lottie and Rose?

What appears to be Rose's opinion of Lady Caroline?

austerity tranquil

Chapter Seven

What role does Mrs. Fisher's stick play in her life?

Why does Rose somewhat resent Mrs. Fisher?

Why does Mrs. Fisher want to curb Lottie?

Why do you think Lottie and Rose differ in their opinion of the news they have no work to do?

serene curb

Chapter Eight

Why doesn't Lady Caroline like Lottie and Rose?

Why doesn't Lady Caroline want to do the housekeeping?

Why is Lady Caroline annoyed with Domenico and Francesca?

Why does Lady Caroline want to think?

What does Lady Caroline begin to think of her past life?

What sort of person is Lady Caroline's mother?

What do Lady Caroline's friends and family think of her trip to Italy?

exuberance pergola ossified geniality condonation levity skimp absurd melodiously obstinate

Chapter Nine

Why does Mrs. Fisher want to keep the nicer sitting room for herself?

What is Mrs. Fisher's opinion of her dead husband?

What does Mrs. Fisher value?

Why doesn't Mrs. Fisher like macaroni?

Why doesn't Francesca like Mrs. Fisher?

Why won't Scrap come to lunch?

Why do Francesca, Mrs. Fisher, and Mrs. Arbuthnot each try to get Scrap to do something other than
just keep staying in the garden?

What does Lottie's perception about Scrap tell the reader?

troughs sarcophagi inkling barren voluble egress illustrious rugged flair disposition morosely protrusions invective flax injudicious scrunching rousing

Chapter Ten

Why doesn't Lottie want Mrs. Fisher to go into the top garden?

Why does Mrs. Fisher do so anyway?

What does Mrs. Fisher think of Lady Caroline?

What do we learn about Mrs. Fisher's husband?

Why does Scrap start to like Mrs. Fisher?

What happened in World War I to Scrap?

How important and famous is Scrap's family?

What problems does Scrap have with men?

excrescence daphne retorted officiously mincemeat tonic docility forlorn parapet Tommies vergers petted jauntily marchioness amiably potentates

Chapter Eleven

Why does Lottie think she has been "a mean dog"?

Why does Rose feel Lottie is becoming a saint?

Why is Mrs. Fisher so upset by Lottie?

What is Lottie's opinion of love? how has this opinion changed?

rasped ramshackle breezy imperviousness gusts yearned rebuked rollick disconcerted churlish aridity robust menage

Chapter 15

Why is Lotty amazed Mellersh kissed her?
How has Mellersh changed?
Why is Constanza so unhappy?
Why is Mrs. Fisher impressed when Mr. Wilkins throws away his cigar?
How does Mr. Wilkins solve the housekeeping problem?
Why won't Mrs. Fisher do the housekeeping?

Chapter 16 (week two of the vacation)

Why has Mellersh changed his opinion of his wife?
What is Scrap thinking of now?
Why is Rose thinking of now?
What is Mrs. Fisher feeling?
How has Mrs. Fisher changed?
How does Mr. Wilkins treat Scrap?
What is Mr. Wilkins attitude toward the three other women besides Lotty?

Chapter 17 (week three of the vacation)

Why does Rose write Frederick?
What weaknesses does Rose now suffer from?
Why does Mr. Wilkins now ask his wife for advice?

Chapter 18

What effect does Mr. Briggs have on Rose?
What is Mr. Briggs looking for in a wife?
What effect does Mr. Briggs have on Mrs. Fisher?
Why does Mrs. Fisher's laugh make Rose feel so guilty?
Why is Mr. Wilkins so happy about Mr. Briggs pursuit of Rose?
What is Mrs. Fisher's reaction to Lotty's kiss?

Chapter 19

What effect does Scrap have on Mr. Briggs?
What does Scrap think of Mr. Briggs?
What is the story of the oleander tree?
Why doesn't Scrap fear the stranger approaching?
What does Scrap imagine Mr. Briggs is capable of?

Chapter 20

How does Frederick amuze Scrap?
What does Rose determine to confront Frederick with?
How does Rose greet Frederick when she discovers him in the drawing room?

Chapter 21

What does Rose's embrace make Frederick feel?
What is Brigg's reaction to discovering Rose and Frederick kissing?
How does Frederick handle the situation in which he is?
How does Caroline deal with the discovery of Frederick's marriage?

Chapter 22

What is Frederick and Caroline's relationship now?
What does Caroline think of herself?
Why is suddenly grateful to Mr. Briggs?
What visions does Lotty have of the future?

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