A NovelBook - 2015
From the critics
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August may be almost over but that doesn’t mean there isn’t time for one last great summer read.
If the title Enchanted August sounds somewhat familiar, it is because author Brenda Bowen is paying homage to an earlier work of fiction, the 1922 novel Enchanted April, by Elizabeth von Arnim; this novel in turn may be better known for the film starring Miranda Richardson and Joan Plowright. Bowen uses most of the character names from the original, and dots references to the source novel throughout her story. The original sees a group of four unhappy British women of disparate backgrounds rent an idyllic Italian villa together, become acquainted and even fond of each other, and in the process rediscover a new love for their own lives.
The homage begins instead in New York City, and the idyllic retreat is on a tiny island in Maine. It is an audacious move to ‘re-write’ a beloved novel (though that does not stop Jane Austen knock-offs), and Rose, Lottie, Caroline and Beverly vary slightly from their forbears, but the mood of the original – languid, whimsical and reflective – is wonderfully matched by Bowen’s update (lest you think the story is nothing more than a girl’s getaway romp). It is the type of novel sure to become an instant favourite just for the feeling it generates with its descriptions of the island cottage, the salt-sea air, the evening cocktails on a wrap-around porch, the lazy meanderings on winding forest paths, the starry, starry nights… it is a novel that simply evokes the best of the season and is sure to get re-read each summer.
There’s still time to capture that summer feeling – reserve a copy of Enchanted August at spl.bibliocommons.com
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