This is just the second Elizabeth Von Arnim novel I have read, the first earlier this year was The Enchanted April. This is quite different from that novel, and although I enjoyed it, I can’t say that I enjoyed it as much. There is much to commend it though and the writing is certainly lovely. The novel is an epistalory novel, with a difference, as there is just one correspondent, the Miss Schmidt of the title. She is in Jena a small town in Germany and she is writing to Roger Anstruther in London, a former lodger with her family. As the novel opens she is addressing him as Roger, telling him she loves him., However it becomes clear that the replies she is receiving are not so effusive and the reader fears for Rose-Marie Schmidt, and is sure that Mr Anstruther is not worthy of this lively and intelligent letter writer. It is therefore quite poignant when Rose-Marie’s letter openings change to Dear Mr Anstruther.
The letters continue over the next year and through Fraulein Schmidt’s letters we see the changes that come to both their lives. The fortunes of the Schmidt family change quite considerably, but Rose-Marie embraces life and all it brings and tells all to her friend Mr Anstruther in her most charming letters full of chatty observations, small town anecdotes and worldly big sister type advice.
Rose-Marie Schmidt is a lovely character, it’s a testament to the excellent writing of Elizabeth Von Arnim, that the personality of this intelligent optimistic young woman comes through so sympathetically in the descriptions of her quiet life and interactions with the people around her