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The Solitary Summer (VMC) Paperback – 2 Feb 2006


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The Solitary Summer (VMC) + Elizabeth and Her German Garden + The Enchanted April
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Product details

  • Paperback: 208 pages
  • Publisher: Virago; New Ed edition (2 Feb. 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1844082962
  • ISBN-13: 978-1844082964
  • Product Dimensions: 12.6 x 1.5 x 19.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (7 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 820,324 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description

Review

Recreates a Wordsworthian sense of rapturous awe (- Deborah Kellerway)

An intriguing portrait of a complex and frustrated woman (The TIMES)

Book Description

*A companion/sequel to the famous Elizabeth and Her German Garden

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4.4 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

28 of 28 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on 7 Oct. 2001
Format: Paperback
Elizabeth von Arnim lived an uncoventional life. Despite being a member of German aristocracy through marriage, she rejected the frivolous life-style of her class and found refuge in books and nature.

The Solitary Summer is the very funny and life-affirming account of a year at her summer residence. She writes of her children, of her attempts at gardening and the rigours of running her household. A theme throughout is her longing to throw down her responsibilities and escape to the countryside or to her library.

Von Arnim was a feminist but one who recognised that wit was perhaps the best weapon in puncturing the chauvanism and narrow-mindedness of her age. Her voice rings out as caustic, playful and beguiling as it was over a century ago.
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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful By Adrenalin Streams on 1 April 2010
Format: Paperback
This is the follow-up to Elizabeth And Her German Garden and sees the author persuade her husband (Count Von Arnim) that they should have no visitors to their country retreat one summer so that her "soul may have time to grow". Even more than in her previous book this story is centred on the joys of being outdoors and of the intense pleasure the solitude and beauty of a well kept but rambling garden can bring. Elizabeth Von Arnim spends the summer reflecting on her life and the lives of those less fortunate, as well as on her April, May and June babies as they frolic around her speaking a quaint mixture of German and English. Von Arnim was a free spirit; fiercely intelligent and with an incisive wit at a time where such aptitudes were not always appreciated in a woman, and certainly not in an aristocratic one. The garden is the place she can escape from the stifling restrictions of her class and sex and she indulges in it to the full. If I have a slight criticsm of this book it is that I miss the razor sharp observations Von Arnim makes of her house guests and social set in German Garden, and the relegation of her difficult husband, "the Man of Wrath", to a minor supporting role. Still, Elizabeth's observations about life and her wonderfully clear and evocative style of writing make this book a delight.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By liveenl on 26 April 2011
Format: Paperback
As a gardener and a loner, this book conjures up a world which is sadly an impossibility I crave for. The author is a product of a time long since past, when the lady of the manor had a cook and a nanny and the means at her disposal to allow her to spend a summer doing what she so enjoys: wandering about her vast gardens with just a book and her imagination. How I envy her, so as pure escapism this book was just the ticket for me on my city balcony. The depictions of her gardens are vivid, but it is her descriptions of her husband and her children which lend most humour to this little gem. One to read and reread
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Melvyn Elphee on 10 Mar. 2014
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
The Enchanted April was such an enchanting book - and more profound than that - so I wanted to try another von Arnim immediately. This is less arresting, though still well written and individualistic. It is not a novel at all - no plot - but rather a reflective journal on a summer in the country. Von Arnim must have been quite a "feminist" in her day but now seems still to be too much in the doll's house and her little squirrelisms with regard to the "Man of Wrath" become irritating if not nauseating. Against this must be weighed a real delight in gardens and civilization along with an interesting social curiosity towards the less fortunate which is rather like the Victorian Lady Bountiful with self awareness. I am glad I read it, but would consider Gissing's Private Papers of Henry Ryecroft or Jerome's Idle Thoughts of an Idle Fellow more pressing along comparable lines.
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