Best known for The Enchanted April, Elizabeth von Arnim's first novel, the semi-autobiographical Elizabeth and her German Garden, was published anonymously in 1898. In it she mines her unhappy marriage to an overbearing Count - the 'Man of Wrath' - and the mores of the German landed gentry. Subversive, witty and a beautiful meditation on the joys of gardening, it was a huge bestseller and firmly established von Arnim's reputation as an author.
Written as a series of diary entries, Elizabeth is a wild spirit whose minor eccentricities (she is happiest when eating salad outdoors) bemuse the servants and shock the high-born neighbours of her husband's family estate in northern Germany. Rather than hating its remoteness and dilapidation, Elizabeth sees her sojourn there as an opportunity to create a beautiful garden in which she can spend time thinking about the world, playing with her beloved daughters and tolerating the occasional visitor.
Reader: Caroline Martin
Writer: Elizabeth von Arnim
Abridger: Sara Davies
Producer: Kirsteen Cameron.