The lure of Italy is hard to resist. For four British women, the attraction brings them to San Salvatore, a Tuscan villa, for an entire month of vacation.
The women are very different. Lotty Wilkins, nervous and talkative, is treated like a child by her husband and is starting to chafe from his oppression. Rose Arbuthnot, with a "face like a disappointed madonna," is pious, sweet, and desperately unhappy. Margaret Fisher, stern and demanding, lives in a past peppered with famous literary encounters. And Caroline Dester, striking beautiful and popular, is lonely and bored with her whirlwind social life.
The four rent San Salvatore together, and immediately begin to change. What is it that changes these women? Sun and rest in a beautiful place? Yes, partly, but mostly it is the friendship of three extraordinary people.
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Four Englishwomen vacation together at an Italian castle in von Arnim's novel, a film version of which is now a popular art-house attraction.