The Enchanted April discussion questions

  1. The plot description reads as sweet and sentimental, but The Enchanted April often reads like a comedy of manners; there are moments of cynicism in the humorous inner thoughts and dialogue of the characters. In what ways did you find the book sentimental? In which ways did you find it scathing?
  2. What did you think of the circumstances that brought the four women together?
  3. Though their reasons differ, each of the four women is deeply unhappy in her own life. What evidence does Von Arnim provide to lead us to this conclusion?
  4. In what ways does San Salvatore affect each of the visitors? What spurs each woman to change?
  5. Dostoevsky famously said that “beauty will save the world.” The beauty of the setting affects each of the women differently. How does the setting impact the women? Do you agree that beauty is a necessity of life?
  6. Off the page, Von Arnim was famous for her magnificent gardens, and the garden theme runs through her work. What did you notice about the way she described the physical landscape?
  7. Mrs. Fisher’s first name is never revealed. Is this significant? Why or why not?
  8. Does a month seem sufficient for the types of changes each of the characters come to? Do you think the changes will last? Will they remain their new selves or go back to their old habits?
  9. Would you say this book is about the transformative power of travel? The Italian landscape? A change of scenery? Discuss, and keep Four Seasons in Rome in mind when you do.
  10. Contemporary readers often find it difficult believe this book was written in 1922. In what ways does this novel feel contemporary? In what ways does it feel a hundred years old?

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