Remember how last week I said, “I’ll be honest, I picked The Pastor’s Wife by Elizabeth Von Arnim because it’s free and her Enchanted April is the only novel that made the cut as I’ve moved my library around.” Well, the small joke is on us.
Turns out Elizabeth Von Arnim is trendy now. I bet some of the cooler members of our club knew this, but, well, I’m known for being about five years (or more!) off of the cutting edge. Alright, one article called it a “discreet resurgence“, which might be more our pace. Still, it’s been fun to poke around the internet and see how Downton Abbey is bringing about this resurgence:
“Molesley making moves on Anna last week immediately after Mr. Bates had left her confused and brokenhearted was a little sleazy — but at least he used a book as his overture. The novel Molesley gave Anna, with the distinctly unpromising title Elizabeth and Her German Garden, turns out to have been an acid-tongued 19th-century bestseller. And now it’s on the verge of finding new fans.” Source here.
Another article said: “Oh, and for any eager Downton Abbey fans wondering why Julian Fellowes chose to single out Elizabeth and Her German Garden, I asked him and it was down to the book’s huge popularity at the turn of the century – no secret significance to the plot, I’m afraid!”
So, maybe we are cutting edge, just 115 years late.
Who is Elizabeth Von Arnim? “Elizabeth von Arnim was born Mary Annette Beauchamp in Australia in 1866, but was raised in England, the daughter of a prominent merchant. While undergoing a tour of Italy in 1891, she met a Prussian aristocrat, Count von Arnim, who she soon married. The couple moved into the Von Arnim estate in Pomerania, where they had five children despite the gradual deterioration of their marriage. Count von Arnim, referred to as the ‘Man of Wrath’, in Elizabeth’s semi-autobiographical novels, went deeply into debt and was soon sent to prison for fraud. In an effort to raise funds, Countess von Armin adopted the pen-name ‘Elizabeth’ and went to work on a brooding but satirical novel about her experiences in Pomerania. The result, Elizabeth and Her German Garden, was published by Macmillan in 1898 and became a huge success for its wry observations on aristocratic provincial life.” You can read more here.
And a bit about The Pastor’s Wife: “Ingeborg Bullivant decides spontaneously to join a tour to Lucerne-and returns engaged. Yet her new life as a rural Prussian pastor’s wife restricts her as much as her old; and when the dashing artist Ingram appears, musing about wondrous Italy, wanderlust tempts her a second time. Von Arnim’s accomplished and comic novel is based on her own first marriage and life in provincial Germany at the turn of the century.”
Themes for us to explore:
- Cross-cultural marriage – including being a daughter-in-law
- Being in a ministry family – whether daughter or wife
- Loneliness in a foreign land
- Enjoying motherhood, but also having interests outside of it
- Keeping your mind stimulated in more challenging contexts
The book is divided into three parts. If you want to read ahead, feel free, if you don’t get to this book until later in the month, don’t worry. Jump into the conversation regardless :).
February 10 — Part 1: chapters 1-11
February 17 — Part 2: chapters 12-20
February 24 — Part 3: chapters 22-37
Had you heard of Von Arnim before? What have you read of hers? Is Downton Abbey popular among the foreign community where you are? What shows are popular?
See you in the comments :).
Photo Source : Gratisography