Friday, December 30, 2016

Elizabeth von Arnim - Continued

As I mentioned in Wednesday's post, after reading four books written by E.Phillips Oppenheim, I downloaded, and began reading Vera by Elizabeth von Arnim.

The wikipedia article on the novel does a good job describing the work-
"Vera by Elizabeth von Arnim is a black comedy based on her disastrous second marriage to Earl Russell: a mordant analysis of the romantic delusions through which wives acquiesce in husbands' tyrannies. In outline the story of this utterly unromantic novel anticipates DuMaurier's Rebecca. Naive Lucy Entwhistle is swept into marriage by widower, Everard Wemyss. His mansion 'The Willows' is pervaded by the spectre of his dead wife Vera, with whom Lucy becomes obsessed. ... Here the servants are partisan for both wives, and lose no opportunity to disrupt Everard's unctuous, oppressive household routines. An extraordinarily black vision of marriage, also continuously funny, the novel's power lies in the wit and economy of the usually prolix Von Arnim."

Although there are funny parts in the novel, I'd say "continuously funny" is a bit over board. Never the less, Vera may very well be the best novel I've read in 2016. If not the best, it would certainly rank in the top five.

Immediately following Vera I downloaded and began reading von Arnim's first novel, Elizabeth and Her German Garden. The tone of this first novel is lighter than von Arnim's later work, but is wonderful because of that lightness.

There are only two days remaining in 2016. I do not know if I'll finish Elizabeth and Her German Garden before 2017 arrives. This will be either my last book read in 2016 or the first of 2017. Either way, I'll be reading more of Arnim's works next year.

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