This is not just my first A to Z Challenge post; it is my first proper blog on any subject. Writing about a book, a film and Italian gardens, 3 of my favourite topics, seemed like a good way to start. I’ve read quite enviously about some of the intriguing themes other participants are using; I’m not sure how my blogs will progress, perhaps a theme will emerge. I would love some feedback, good or bad, as entering this Challenge 3 days after starting my first blog site was quite possibly a mad idea. In contrast, Arlee Bird’s idea to start the A to Z Challenge in the first place was inspirational and I am so glad I read about it on Joanne Phillips’ “a writer’s journey” blog in time to enter for 2013.
The Enchanted April, by Elizabeth Von Arnim, is about four English women who rent an Italian Castle, San Salvatore, for the month of April; it is set in the 1920’s but the writer’s understanding and portrayal of human relationships keeps the book relevant as we approach the 2020’s. I had never heard of it until, on 5th April 1992, I watched the tv premiere of the BBC film adaptation; I was captivated by it, and doggedly searched the local secondhand book and charity shops until I found an old hardback copy of the original book. As I read it I could smell the flowers, feel the sun on my back, see the glint of light rising from the sea-water in the bay; I yearned to go there and spend time with Lotty, Rose, Lady Caroline and Mrs. Fisher (and, it has to be said, with Michael Kitchen who played Mr. Briggs in the film.)
I went on a gardens tour of Tuscany in late April 1995 . It rained on seven of the eight days I was away; not occasional light rain but relentless downpours that soaked through my inadequate showerproof coat. The water ran down my legs into my sturdy English garden- visiting shoes where it remained trapped, causing squelching noises as I walked, so I took a taxi to Florence and bought a pair of soft, violet open-toed shoes that would let the rain escape.
A couple of months ago, as I was purchasing a DVD online, the recommendations for future purchases included The Enchanted April; I bought it immediately and also downloaded the book onto my Kindle. As I read I can still smell the flowers; I still yearn to travel there with Lotty and the others, but now I would be sure I packed my gaberdine mac.