Since I've now read all the books by Elizabeth von Arnim that I own, I thought it was time to stock up on a few more. Well, that and a general excitement about the Virago Reading Week last month made me want a few more. I think I mentioned that I was 'inspired' to order a few Viragos and here they finally are.
The top four are all by Elizabeth von Arnim, as she joins the ranks of authors whose work I now want to devour. I've got:
Fraulein Schmidt and Mr Anstruther - "This enchanting novel tells the story of the love affair between Rose-Marie Schmidt and Roger Anstruther. A determined young woman of twenty-five, Rose-Marie is considered a spinster by the inhabitants of the small German town of Jena where she lives with her father, the Professor. To their home comes Roger, an impoverished but well-born young Englishman who wishes to learn German: Rose-Marie and Roger fall in love. But the course of true love does not run smooth: distance, temperament and fortune divide them. We watch the ebb and flow of love between two very different people and see the witty and wonderful Rose-Marie get exactly what she wants."
Mrs Skeffington - "With the delicate piquancy for which she is renowned, Elizabeth von Arnim here reveals the complexities of emotions involved in the process of ageing and in re-evaluating self-worth."
The Caravaners - "For the Major and his wife Edelgard, the idea of a caravaning holiday in Southern England seems perfect. As they begin their leisurely progress through its green and verdant countryside, the holiday spirit sets in. But England presents more than just a contrast of scenery to this German couple--amongst the company of their English companions Edelgard seems to undergo a change of temperament, revealing herself to be less biddable than the upright Major had believed. The blossoming of the hedgerows is one thing, but the blossoming of his wife is quite another..."
Christopher and Columbus - This is set during WWII when two half-German orphan twins are packed off to America. En route they are befriended by a wealthy engineer with tendencies toward motherliness. "Many adventures ensue (and befall them) in this sparklingly witty, romantic novel in which Elizabeth von Arnim explored the suspicions cast upon the two Annas and Mr Twist in a country poised for war." And I must share a quote by Penelope Mortimer (since I am reading her at the moment) that appears on the back of the book: "An extremely talented writer...Elizabeth von Arnim had a near wit, a wild sense of comedy, and a vision, continually thwarted as it was--of potential happiness."
Betty Miller, On the Side of Angels - "First published in 1945, this exploration of the crushing psychological effects of war is 'a sensitively and beautifully told story...perfectly drawn'--Stevie Smith."
Christa Wolf, The Quest for Christa T. - "Christa is a young girl in Hitler's Germany; she survives to embrace the new order but her enthusiasm and idealism wither as crass materialists corrode its splendid dreams. A teacher in a village school, a student at Leipzig University, a wife and a mother, the life of Christa T., here recalled by her friend, is the life of an ordinary, intelligent, sensitive woman. But this famous novel reveals much more: Christa's is the story of a whole generation, and a moving celebration of the unique value of each human being and all human life."
Isn't this a lovely stack? I think I am going to make up for neglecting my Viragos last year. I've got two on my current reading pile and when I finish those plan on picking out yet another one to start reading. Something good to look forward to.