The Pastor’s Wife by Elizabeth von Arnim (1914)

The pastor's wife by Elizabeth von Arnim

From the original review in the Salisbury Evening Post (NC), November 1914: One of the leading books of the season is by the same anonymous author, “Elizabeth,” whose fame spread so quickly after the publication of her inimitable Elizabeth and Her German Garden. And like that book, this one deals with German life and how an English girl lived it.

To attempt to describe this book would be manifestly unfair to the reader (that and criticism of the story must remain for the reviewer) but a few samples of its incisive humor and the searching contrasts drawn between British and German ideals and temperaments when drawn together in the mosh of family life, may perhaps not be amiss.


Herr Dremmel, a strenuous wooer

For instance, there is the time that Herr Dremmel, the strenuous wooer and somewhat abstracted husband, took his bride to see her mother-in-law. The account of that visit must be read to be appreciated. The departure is all we have space to quote:

“Farewell, and God be with you,” said Herr Dremmel, departing down the passage and forgetting in his hurry to get his bride home as quickly as possible to take her with him.

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The Pastors Wife by Elizabeth von Arnim

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“A true husband and wife can never be friends”

For a moment she was left alone confronting her new relation. She made a great plunge into filialness and, swiftly blushing, picked up her mother-in-law’s passive hand: “She had meant to kiss it, but looking into her eyes she found kissing finally impossible. She shyly murmured an English leave-taking and got herself, infinitely awkwardly, out of the house.

And then after some distressing domestic times the good Herr Pastor out of the depth of conviction, spoke the words to his English wife: “Ingeborg,” he said with the severity of disappointment, pulling his sleeves out of her hands and going to the door, have you then not yet discovered that a true husband and wife can never be friends?”

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The Enchanted April by Elizabeth von Arnim

See also: The Enchanted April by Elizabeth von Arnim

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*Elizabeth von Arnim identified herself only as “Elizabeth” or “The author of Elizabeth and Her German Garden” as her nom de plume on many of her earlier books.

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