Having loved both filmed versions of this story, I came to the book not anticipating any surprises, and in that respect I was correct. What I did get, however, was a more fully-formed understanding of each of the four women who come to San Salvatore. Each has her own quest, and each is surprised in the way that her quest is resolved.
Elizabeth von Arnim can harness language in ways that few other authors are able. She is, for instance, able to display what a walking joke Mr. Wilkins is, while letting him think that he's the very model of an educated man.
I started off loathing both Mrs. Fisher and Lady Caroline Dester in a way that wasn't true when watching the films. This made their transformations that much more satisfying, in the end.
I'm now interested in reading other books from Elizabeth von Arnim and, even more importantly, visiting the castello where the story is based. She wrote The Enchanted April after her own visit, and it has continued to "enchant" travelers in the many years since the publication of her novel. I can't wait to see the "tub of love" and be surrounded by wistaria myself.