Friday, June 26, 2009

Judging a Book by it's Cover...

Recently my best friend Brenda in one of her many travels, stumbled upon a sweet little book with the title of "Elizabeth and her German Garden". Brenda, being very thoughtful as usual, purchased the book and gave it to me as a little gift knowing that I would instantly love it.
This book by all appearances is a non descriptive looking book, drab olive green cover and back with discolored pages and absolutely no illustrations....not one! But she knew I would appreciate this gesture of kindness as I collect antique books among other things, but also because my mother in law who is German, grows a garden every year and believe it or not, her name is Elizabeth. This book was written in the year 1898 in London England and is told in the first person. I've only skimmed the pages as I have been a little busy lately to actually sit down and read it, but I will soon make time, due to the fact that I did a little research on said book.

This English author was born Mary Annette Beauchamp in Australia. Her family relocated to Europe where upon she married a Count from Prussia. They traveled all through Europe and lived a very happy life while she wrote several books, Elizabeth's German Garden being the very first one. Her husband died and she married again to an Earl. The marriage was rocky and they separated whereupon Elizabeth, whom she is now called, escaped to the United States never divorcing

It is written in diary form and spans a year in the life of Elizabeth and it depicts her experiences in gardening and interactions with her friends. It includes commentary on the beauty of nature and on society, but is primarily humorous due to Elizabeth's frequent mistakes and her idiosyncratic outlook on life. She looked down upon the frivolous fashions of her time writing “I believe all needlework and dressmaking is of the devil, designed to keep women from study"...I love it!

Her books and this one in particular turned out to be highly successful and in 1993 the novel was turned into a Academy Award winning movie by the name of "Enchanted April" and in 2003 was adapted into a Tony nominated play. A couple of fun little facts about our beloved Elizabeth and this book is that, this book is noteworthy for not publishing her name and that she was H.G. Wells mistress for many years here in the states. She died in 1941 in Charleston, South Carolina.

And there you have it. A little old book from many many years ago, with no author written anywhere, found in a antique store in Arizona and if I know Brenda, probably hidden under something, written by a very controversial and independent woman, given to a sometimes controversial and always independent woman who happens to write a blog.....hmm!


  1. This book looks beautiful. What a wonderful story. Brenda is a sweet friend to have thought of you.


  2. I LOVE THAT!!!!! I love a good background story and I LOVED the movie Enchanted April. I had no idea it was taken from a book. I love going into old bookstores and looking at old postcards. You know the kind that have a picture of someone on them and then there's writing on the back, usually in pencil! Love that stuff ... I could look at that stuff all day long and just wonder who those people were. Also love perusing old magazines from the 40's, 50's and 60's, like Life.

    Okay doll - smooches!


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