Book for Breakfast : Elizabeth and Her German Garden

Elizabeth and Her German GardenElizabeth and Her German Garden by Elizabeth von Arnim

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Another lovely read by Elizabeth von Arnim, an English author specialized in writing introspective and witty stories with a hint of how dreadful a life of a woman could be, if that woman is not free to choose for herself. 

I'm not going to lie, that word 'German' on the title is one of the main reason I want to read this book. The other reason, I have read 'Vera' (another von Arnim's book that I read for invalid reason), which I enjoyed immensely. It seems that I'm in love with Von Arnim's choice of theme and style of writing.

 Dalam novel semi-memoir ini, Elizabeth von Arnim menuturkan kisah Elizabeth, seorang ibu rumah tangga (Hausfrau), juga istri bangsawan, yang tinggal di kawasan pedesaan Jerman. Buku ini mungkin terinspirasi dari pernikahan kedua Elizabeth von Arnim dengan seorang bangsawan Prusia, Count von Arnim, yang  berujung pada perceraian. Count von Arnim juga mungkin menjadi inspirasi dari tokoh suami Elizabeth, yang sepanjang cerita dipanggil 'Man of Wrath' atau 'Herr Sage'.

Elizabeth adalah seorang istri bangsawan yang eksentrik menurut masa dan budaya tempat tinggalnya. Dia tidak suka dan tidak mau belajar memasak, padahal Hausfrau Jerman pada umumnya menganggap kemampuan memasak adalah kebanggaan utama. Dia menikmati menghabiskan sebagian besar waktunya di rumah tanpa disibukkan kehadiran orang lain, sementara orang-orang di sekitarnya menganggap dia sebagai 'poor little wife' yang tidak dapat menikmati kesenangan dunia. Yang paling utama, Elizabeth sangat menyayangi taman luas di sekitar rumahnya dan sangat idealis dalam mengelolanya, sehingga sering kali taman itu menjadi sumber konflik antara dia dengan tukang-tukang kebunnya, atau suaminya, Sang Man of Wrath.

Oh how I adore the character of Elizabeth (and possibly the author as well, considering this book was semi-memoir)! A young, introverted mother of three who is content with most of her life. It's interesting to read her random but thoughtful musings about her garden and life in general. It was written in a diary-like format, and aside from her extensive plan of what-to-plant-this-season, we get to read about the customs of Hausfrauen in Germany at that time (and Elizabeth's quiet struggle to avoid many of them in order to spent more of her time in her lovely garden and read. Oh by the way, do you know that at that time it is weird to see a woman read too much book in Germany? And women are forbidden to talk about politics?)

I'm so in love with Elizabeth's three babies, with their soft curls and pink toes and German-English sentences. I'm entertained with the interaction between Elizabeth and her visitors, their witty but sometimes silly conversation, and their refusal to be called silly. I hold a suppressed rage for Elizabeth's so called 'civilised husband' who thought so lowly about woman (albeit spoken in a really soft and polite way) that you half-hoped that Elizabeth would divorce this Man of Wrath at some point of the story.

Seperti layaknya pemikiran seorang introvert, buku ini dituturkan dengan cara yang tenang dan mengalun seperti musik. Terkadang pemikiran Elizabeth melompat dari satu kejadian ke kejadian lain, dari satu ide ke ide lain. Jika kamu mencari cerita dengan konflik yang naik turun dan penyelesaian yang memuaskan, buku ini mungkin akan membosankan untukmu. Bukan mungkin lagi sih, PASTI membosankan. Haha

Bagi saya, Elizabeth dan tamannya menjadi perumpamaan untuk kehidupan. Elizabeth berpesan untuk tidak terlalu banyak mendengar apa kata orang dalam melakukan apa yang kamu inginkan. Kalau menurutmu menanam tulip dalam gerombolan adalah cara yang paling baik, tidak perlu menuruti tukang kebun untuk menanamnya dalam barisan di sepanjang jalan setapak. Elizabeth berpesan untuk mencari ilmu sebanyak-banyaknya, terutama mengenai apa yang kamu sukai, seperti juga dia selalu belajar banyak untuk membuat tanaman-tanaman di tamannya indah serta sejahtera. Dan pesan paling penting yang saya dapat dari Elizabeth : Kebahagiaan sering kali datang dari hal-hal yang sederhana, dan kita tidak perlu mencari terlalu jauh.

Favorite conversation between Elizabeth and her Man of Wrath (oh, I hope I will never have the misfortune of calling my own husband with this name)


Man of Wrath :(about women) "Creatures who habitually say yes to everything a man proposes, when no one can oblige them to say it is, and when it is so often fatal, are plainly not responsible beings.
Elizabeth : "I shall never say it to you again, my dear man."

And this:

"Pray, my dear man," I said, pointing with my whip, "look at that baby moon so innocently peeping at us over the edge of the mist just behind that silver birch; and don't talk so much about women and things you don't understand. What is the use of your bothering about fists and whips and muscles and all the dreadful things invented for the confusion of obstreperous wives? You know you are a civilised husband, and a civilised husband is a creature who has ceased to be a man."

"And a civilised wife?" he asked, bringing his horse close up beside me and putting his arm around my waist, "has she ceased to be a woman?"

"I should think so indeed --she is a goddess,and can never be worshipped and adored enough."

View all my reviews on Goodreads

Selanjutnya akan membaca The Enchanted April atau The Solitary Summer. The Solitary Summer adalah lanjutan dari kisah Elizabeth and Her German Garden ini.

Biasanya buku-buku Von Arnim (dan penulis-penulis wanita lainnya) dapat didapatkan secara gratis (dan konon tidak melanggar hukum negara karena sudah berada di domain publik...hopefully) pada situs ini


Yang harus bayar juga ada, tapi koleksi ebook gratisannya pun sudah cukup banyak dan memuaskan. Kalap deh, download di sana, haha. Format downloadnya pun cukup banyak. Ada PDF, EPUB, MOBI, Text, macam-macam lah, silakan sesuaikan dengan preferensi e-reading Anda.

Kalau pas saya mengunduh lewat Senorita (nama hape Samsung Ace saya. Saya memilih untuk membaca secara luring lewat aplikasi GoBook...dan sejauh ini belum minat untuk pindah ke lain hati), ada beberapa ePub yang rada resek diunduhnya. Nggak tahu kenapa. Saya memang nggak semudheng teknologi seperti yang saya inginkan. Nggak mencoba untuk unduh dalam format lain karena...GoBook itu udah paling surga kalau dipake baca dengan format ePub. 

Semoga Enchanted April dan Solitary Summer nggak ada masalah dalam pengunduhannya, haha.

Eh, sebelumnya kayaknya saya bakal menyelesaikan dulu beberapa buku versi print yang masih menganggur di rak (saya menaruh buku yang sudah saya baca dan yang belum saya baca pada tempat yang berbeda), juga eBook hasil kalap di Girlebooks dan Project Gutenberg . Asik, banyak bacaan deh pokoknya, hahaha.

Oh my loooooove :')
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