Wednesday, June 24, 2015

*Review* Enchanted August by Brenda Bowen

Genre: Chick Lit
Published: June 2, 2015
Pages: 320
Ages: 14+


Set on a picture-perfect island in Maine, a sparkling summer debut that offers readers a universal fantasy: one glorious month away from it all
On a dreary spring day in Brooklyn, Lottie Wilkes and Rose Arbuthnot spot an ad on their children’s preschool bulletin board:

Hopewell Cottage
Little Lost Island, Maine.
Old, pretty cottage to rent on a small island.
Springwater, blueberries, sea glass.

Neither can afford it, but they are smitten—Lottie could use a break from her overbearing husband and Rose from her relentless twins. On impulse, they decide to take the place and attract two others to share the steep rent: Caroline Dester, an indie movie star who’s getting over a very public humiliation, and elderly Beverly Fisher, who’s recovering from heartbreaking loss. If it’s not a perfect quartet, surely it will be fine for a month in the country.

When they arrive on the island, they are transformed by the salt air; the breathtaking views; the long, lazy days; and the happy routine of lobster, corn, and cocktails on the wraparound porch. By the time of the late-August blue moon, real life and its complications have finally fallen far, far away. For on this idyllic island they gradually begin to open up: to one another and to the possibilities of lives quite different from the ones they’ve been leading. Change can’t be that hard, can it?

With a cast of endearingly imperfect characters and set against the beauty of a gorgeous New England summer, Enchanted August brilliantly updates the beloved classic The Enchanted April in a novel of love and reawakening that is simply irresistible.


I received a copy of this book through Penguin's First to Read program in exchange for an honest review.

This book is a modern retelling of Elizabeth von Arnim's The Enchanted April. The major events basically play out the same way, but with modern twists. I personally enjoyed Enchanted August more because it was easier for me to relate to and it didn't have me immediately wondering why a married woman would be getting a clothing allowance from her dad. I still found several of the characters detestable, although Caroline and Beverly didn't anger me quite as much in this version as they did in The Enchanted April (maybe because I knew what was coming.)

Like it's predecessor, this book also made me want to take a month long vacation, but I'm not so sure I want to go to Maine (I read way too much Stephen King for the very thought of Maine to not terrify me). A cottage in like Rhode Island or Delaware would be nice though, and I'd love to do a lobster bake some time, even though I much prefer crab to lobster. This book made it sound like so much fun. 

Overall I give Enchanted August 4 out of 5 stars. Having read both books, I would advise that if you enjoy classic literature, stick to the original because it's a great period piece, but if you're a bigger fan of contemporary stories , I think you'll find Enchanted August much more enjoyable, and I would highly recommend it. And if you want to read both, I'd recommend taking a break of a couple months after reading one before you start the other, so it doesn't feel as much like a repeat. 

Buy the Book

About the Author

BRENDA BOWEN read Pride and Prejudice in one sitting when she was twelve and has never quite recovered. She is devoted to Jane Austen, Mary Wesley, Philip Roth, Charlotte Bronte, Emily Dickinson, Billy Collins, Billy Shakespeare, Billie Holliday, Billy Wilder, and many other people named Billy. She lives and writes on Manhattan’s Upper West Side. Her favorite food in all the world is the blueberry.

If you are curious as to how Brenda got the idea for Enchanted August, this is what she says: “I almost never watch a movie based on a book before reading the book, but in the case of Enchanted April (the movie) I didn’t even know there was The Enchanted April (the book by the incomparable Elizabeth von Arnim). I saw the movie, loved it, read the book, loved it more — and every time I watched the film or read the novel I thought 'This story could be happening now.’ I wanted to read the updated version of The Enchanted April so much that I wrote it myself.”

Brenda was born in Philadelphia, grew up in England (from Herman’s Hermits to Queen to the Clash), was graduated from Colby College, made her career in New York, and longs for a cottage in Maine. 

Enchanted August (the book) will be published by Pamela Dorman Books/Viking in June, 2015, and by Vintage UK in July, 2015. An audio book, narrated by Broadway star Sierra Boggess, will also be available from Random House Audio in June. A new edition of The Enchanted April, with an introduction by Brenda Bowen, will be published at the same time by Penguin Classics.

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