Tuesday, May 6, 2008

A Curious Little Book

Here is a great little book about incorporating gardening and similar aesthetics into a lifestyle. I'm not normally a fan of garden narratives. They tend to be excessively sentimental, try to awe us with their triumphs over exaggerated gardening obstacles, or ponderously name every plant in the garden. This 1898 book written by Elizabeth von Arnim, but first published anonymously, doesn't lack for sentimentality, but the free spirited Elizabeth is such an amusing character I find it somehow appropriate. Popular in its time but safely categorized as obscure today the book describes an at least somewhat fictionalized year in the life of the author on her German estate. The author's first of twenty-two books, this light reading offers fascinating glimpses into pre-World War I rural Germany, early feminism and (most importantly to me) an example of how a garden can be instrumental in personal fulfillment. I was lucky to find a copy of the book, in of all places, one floor below my office in the Kingwood Center library. Alas, the copy is too fragile to circulate, but the book is available free on-line and inexpensively from many book dealers.
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