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16 of 16 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Enchanting, funny and absolutely wonderful
If you already like Eva Ibbotson then the only recommendation you need is that this book shows her at her glorious best. If you don't know her, then you have such a pleasure in store.

Tessa is an elfin, enchanting girl who is working her fingers to the bone as the under wardrobe mistress for an opera company in Vienna in the 1920s. The whole chaotic company...
Published on 23 May 2009 by Booklover

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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Not Ibbotson's Best
I have read a couple of Eva Ibbotson's books, including 'A Company of Swans', 'The Star of Kazan' and 'The Morning Gift'. I thoroughly enjoyed them all. But this was a bit of a let-down. I read the first part, and it didn't draw me in, like Ibbotson's other works. I was a little disappointed, but ploughed through it nonetheless. But it didn't really pick up. So, although...
Published on 24 Feb 2012 by Matthew Parker


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16 of 16 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Enchanting, funny and absolutely wonderful, 23 May 2009
By 
This review is from: Magic Flutes (Paperback)
If you already like Eva Ibbotson then the only recommendation you need is that this book shows her at her glorious best. If you don't know her, then you have such a pleasure in store.

Tessa is an elfin, enchanting girl who is working her fingers to the bone as the under wardrobe mistress for an opera company in Vienna in the 1920s. The whole chaotic company relies on her and everyone adores her. One day Guy Farne, a hugely talented and successful English businessman, comes to visit the opera company to hire them for a private performance of Mozart's Magic Flute. The funny and touching story which follows evokes beautifully the glorious Austrian countryside, and the impoverished aristocrats who inhabit its increasingly dilapidated castles. There is the usual supporting cast of charming but wilful children, wayward dogs, devoted retainers, and eccentric artists. And a few awful snobs to throw obstacles in our heroine's way. Lots of plot and lots of humour.

My thirteen year old daughter and I thought it was absolutely wonderful.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Beautiful, powerful and - above all - magical, 26 Jan 2010
By 
MY (Nottingham, UK) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Magic Flutes (Paperback)
'Magic Flutes' is the first book of Eva Ibbotson's that I have read and it is certainly not going to be my last! I absolutely LOVED it and would reccomend it to teenagers and adults alike. It is a powerful and moving read and left me wanting more. While browsing for other titles I was delighted to find a whole range of more books. To me, it seems like a delectable tray of chocolates, to be savoured but so tempting to be devoured. Forgive the metaphor.

This book was supposed to last me the week - after two days, I'd finished it. Now that it's finished, I'm suffering from withdrawal symptoms. Little Tessa is the most likeable of characters and I found myself yelling at the pages for her to stop being so ridiculously selfless. As for Guy Farne, he is one of the best heroes I've read in a novel. Even Nerine, who I was determined to dislike, had my pity. I thoroughly enjoyed myself throughout the novel and kept finding myself laughing at funny moments; I even had tears in my eyes at one point. That is no easy thing - only Lion King has ever made me cry.

The way Ibbotson creates such vivid, real characters is genius. It's like I was in Vienna with Tessa and Guy and experiencing all they experienced. She describes the scenery so beautifully that I could see it clearly in my mind's eye. Also, the way pieces of music and song are described had me looking up the same songs - 'The Merry Widow' for instance, is now one of my most played on my iPod.

Definitely read this. Don't even hesitate. You will all love it, I know it.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Love Eva Ibbotson, love this novel, 17 Jun 2009
By 
Mr Gumby "DH" (UK) - See all my reviews
(VINE VOICE)    (TOP 500 REVIEWER)   
This review is from: Magic Flutes (Paperback)
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It is spring 1922 in Vienna and Tessa, a princess who owns a fairy castle, runs away to work back-stage at the opera. As in most fairy stories, there is a prince - well, not quite, actually just an Englishman who has managed to acquire money and status. There are, of course, obstacles in the way of their relationship but, guess what, they manage to overcome them.

This is a love story that I (or, rather, my wife) very much enjoyed as a lovely romantic novel. Opera, fireworks, the beautiful fiancée of the "prince" and some history - all are thrown into the pot.

Eva Ibbotson was born in Vienna, knows its history well, and it shows. The book is aimed at younger adults but is delightful and will appeal to a wide audience.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Beautifully woven love story, 2 Sep 2009
By 
Anna Tigg "booklover" (Leeds, England) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Magic Flutes (Paperback)
I am so glad this book has been reissued, bringing this timeless romance to the attention of more readers. Eva Ibbotson's adult novels retain the imaginativeness of her fantastic childrens books, and this is no exception.

The book's protagonists are superbly introduced, and the reader is swiftly drawn into the story. Ibbotson's Viennese childhood clearly influences her marvellous descriptions of the city in the years between the world wars, and the landscape of rural Austria is also wonderfully described. As always, the book is steeped in Ibbotson's extensive knowledge and deep love of music (specifically opera in this case), literature and art.

This is a fairytale of a love story but also one that is peopled with brilliantly drawn characters, from the princess in disguise Tessa and the foundling turned millionaire Guy down to the cast and crew of the opera company where Tessa now works for nothing. The impoverished aristocracy of twenties Austria rub shoulders with the snobbish relatives of Guy's social climbing fiancee, and there are scenes of wonderful humour as well as realistic romance.

I would recommend this book to anyone over the age of 14. I have lost count of how many times I have re-read it and enjoy it just as much every time.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Lovely Gentle Read, 22 July 2009
By 
A. Roberton "Alan Roberton" (Hinckley, Leicestershire) - See all my reviews
(VINE VOICE)    (TOP 1000 REVIEWER)    (REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Magic Flutes (Paperback)
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
A lovely gentle read, wholly evocative of the 1920's and of the ethos and manners of Vienna.

I had no expectations when I opened this book, but once begun it was a delight, such lovely characters and a story which leads to a not unexpected but happy ending.

I enjoyed this book so much that I immediately ordered another of the author's books. It's the sort of story that requires no effort to gain enjoyment.

If you want a read that is easy yet enjoyable, interesting, full of details and gorgeous characters with excellent hostorical detail, this is the book for you. Five stars from me.
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Real Keeper, 30 May 2009
By 
Book Gannet (Devon, UK) - See all my reviews
(VINE VOICE)   
This review is from: Magic Flutes (Paperback)
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
Years ago, right in the midst of his scholarly studies, Guy Farne arrived in Vienna. And he fell in love. A foundling from Newcastle, he had no connections, no prospects and the family of his beloved dismissed him out of hand. But he could never forget the things his lady wanted - jewels, riches, servants, castles and the company of princes. Ever since he has channelled his considerable intelligence and energy into making his fortune, and after a chance meeting with his long-lost love, perhaps he finally has a chance to claim all he desires.

A return to Vienna, the purchase of a castle and the plans for a week long party, in which his beloved will finally get the chance to rub shoulders with princes in the height of luxury, is just the beginning of Guy's plans. But it is the opera that matters to him, and what better company to invite than the International Opera Company.

Tessa longs for equality for all, to do away with the rigid structure of nobility, and in art she believes she has found the way. For Tessa is a princess, the last of her line, but when poverty forces her to sell her beloved castle, Pfaffenburg, to Guy, little does she know her life is about to change for ever.

As always, Eva Ibbotson presents a beautiful story, filled with the richness of a forgotten Europe, in the lost time between WW1 and WW2. She evokes a melancholy feel of a failing aristocracy, colliding with the power and finance of the capitalist world. But all of that is just background music to a touching story in which two people find each other, share moments of wonder, companionship and tenderness, and inevitably fall in love. It's just a shame that Guy is supposed to be marrying someone else, and everyone else assumes Tessa is already engaged.

Woven in amongst the main pairs troubles and triumphs, Ibbotson always produces a supporting cast to savour - Tessa's two tantes and their aging pug; the workers and artists of the opera house, in particular Boris and The Mother; Maxi, his dogs and his mother, the Swan Princess; Guy's foster mother, Martha - who keep the action rolling along, with their warm-hearted affection and brilliant eccentricities. They also provide a startling contrast to greedy Nerine and the social climbing snobbery of her family.

Woven in with the passionate world of opera, Guy and Tessa's tale is a gorgeous and gentle love story that was made to be savoured. Eva Ibbotson is fabulous.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Chasing dreams of music, with a good story amongst the love scenes, 20 Jun 2009
This review is from: Magic Flutes (Paperback)
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I discovered the charms of Eva Ibbotson a few months ago with her children's books, especially The Dragonfly Pool and was eager for more. At first this romantic novel seemed a bit of a leap from the simple, open style of the other books, but I was soon drawn into the magical world of Vienna and the opera company where Tessa (really Princess Teresa) is following her own dreams of a life filled with music and equality, and avoiding being a marriagable noble daughter. Until that is, Guy comes on the scene, with a second chance to wed the woman he fell in love with as a student: he is following his own dream, with riches helping where his poor beginnings let him down in the past, and the opera company is just the thing to woo his lost love. Chasing dreams is fraught with difficulty though, real life keeps trying to interfere.

This is not your standard fluffy tale of love, for Tessa is a headstrong independent girl, and the cast of characters surrounding her is eccentric in the extreme. There's laughter, joy, the deep love of the landscape and independence that provides a strong undercurrent to all Eva Ibbotsons' books, and oh yes, a cracking good story and people you want to spend time with.

I don't much care for romances but this one captured my heart, quality feel-good writing of the highest order, don't miss out.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Not Ibbotson's Best, 24 Feb 2012
This review is from: Magic Flutes (Kindle Edition)
I have read a couple of Eva Ibbotson's books, including 'A Company of Swans', 'The Star of Kazan' and 'The Morning Gift'. I thoroughly enjoyed them all. But this was a bit of a let-down. I read the first part, and it didn't draw me in, like Ibbotson's other works. I was a little disappointed, but ploughed through it nonetheless. But it didn't really pick up. So, although I do love Eva Ibbotson, this book dissatisfied me.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Awwwwww!, 3 Nov 2010
By 
P. M. Fernandez "exilefromgroggs" (London) - See all my reviews
(VINE VOICE)    (REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Magic Flutes (Paperback)
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I have a confession to make. Even with the encouragement of Jasper Fforde (The Eyre Affair), I haven't managed to read even one of the Brontes' books. The thought of the trials of the English upper class wrestling with their delicate romances and conflicts with their status in society simply doesn't appeal. So it was with some surprise I found myself warming to this book by Ibbotson. I had previously read the excellent Journey to the River Sea, and thought this book was at least worth consideration - if not by me, then by my daughter.

The setting is the period post-WW1 in Vienna - a melting pot of ideas, art and styles in the death throes of the Imperial culture. The European upper class are running out of money and selling off their heritage, but are desperate to hold onto their status and bloodlines. Into this culture comes Guy Farne, a foundling raised in Newcastle, a self-made millionaire. He is motivated by his desire to win the woman he loves, Nerine Hurlingham, a minor heiress. We also meet Tessa, one of the most important princesses in the European upper class culture, heir to a landmark castle, and a staunch republican, egalitarian and lover of art, who is working in anonymity for one of the lesser opera companies in Vienna.

The plot is the fairly traditional one for such books. From the beginning, it is quite clear which couple should marry, but in true The Seven Basic Plots: Why We Tell Stories style, the hero and the heroine have to overcome many obstacles before they can win one another, and peace and happiness can come to the kingdom.

This is a charming book, in a detailed, lovingly painted historical setting. It has sufficient connection with the modern world to draw in readers who would not normally be interested in such "romance" fiction. Further, it is a world where ethical behaviour trumps wealth, status and lust, in which the principle characters are thoughtful, intelligent, selfless, upright and caring, and which leaves readers aspiring for something higher and purer. The contrast with that other doyen of modern youth literature, Jacqueline Wilson, in which every relationship seems to be a damaged one, is marked.

Eva Ibbotson died last week. It may be the case that her writing, though informed by modernity, harks back to an era which is now passed, or passing. I, for one, am saddened by her loss.
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5.0 out of 5 stars A delightful journey, 26 July 2014
By 
Pamela Thomas (Wiltshire, UK) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Magic Flutes (Kindle Edition)
Some books are like mystery tours. You embark on them not knowing where you're going, and you're so eager to reach your destination that you ignore everything around you that seems irrelevant to the end of the novel. And then there are books like 'Magic Flutes', where you know where you'll end up right from the start, but such is the quality of the writing and the characterisation that it doesn't matter - you're just too busy enjoying the scenery. I'm not surprised that this book, and the others she wrote for an adult audience, have now been repackaged to appeal to teenagers - I would have loved them even more at that age. But if you're in the mood for an uplifting, beautifully written story, with lovely characters (and dogs) and gorgeous surroundings, then take a trip into one of Eva Ibbotson's books. It's worth it for the sheer pleasure of the journey.
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Magic Flutes by Eva Ibbotson
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