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Review: "Fraulein Schmidt and Mr Anstruther" by Elizabeth von Arnim

Fraulein Schmidt and Mr Anstruther may be downloaded for free from our ebook catalog.  The text is a product of our Project Gutenberg proofreading initiative with Marc at

Despite the horrid title, this is one of the loveliest books Von Arnim wrote. She or her publisher came up with some nice titles--The Enchanted April or The Solitary Summer are a couple. But they must not have put forth the effort on this one. The title is at least descriptive. It is an epistolary novel containing the correspondence from Fraulein (Rose-Marie) Schmidt to Mr (Roger) Anstruther. It is set in the college town of Jena, Germany where Roger, an Englishman, has just spent a year learning German. During his last hour before returning to England, the two confess their feelings and become secretly engaged. Rose-Marie's letters, filled with effusions of life and nature, chronicle the relationship of these two characters through the year following their engagement.

What makes this novel  different from most other epistolary novels is that you read only the letters from one person, Rose-Marie. Which is just as well, because you will immediately gather that Rose-Marie's letters are some of the most beautiful pieces of prose recorded on paper while Mr Anstruther's letters must be much less worthy of praise.

Before reading this, I had decided that I didn't like Von Arnim's fiction as well as her autobiographical work. I was wrong. It is more her first person voice that I am in love with. I'm sure this novel contains items of autobiographical nature, however it is undoubtedly fiction. But what a joy! As someone on Goodreads said about this book, I wish someone would write letters like this to me.



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