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HALL OF FAMEon 12 April 2002
Ibbotson's real forte is her children's books, but this, like Company of Swans has the same touches of magic and humour. Ellen, the daughter of a formidable suffragette intellectual disappoints her family by being a genius at the domestic arts, which she learns from her other mother, an Austrian housekeeper. She puts these to excellent use when going to be houskeeper at a progressive boarding school in Austria, whose eccentricities are hilariously (and accurately, given that Ibbotson went to Dartington) described.
The one teacher who refuses to bathe in the nude, she is soon leading a quiet revolution among the pupils, who long for modesty and regularity. She also attracts Marek, the mysterious groundsman wqho turns out to be a composer bent on helping Jews out of Nazi Germany.
WHat makes Ibbotson outstanding is her belief in goodness, and particularly the power of goodness to triumph over meanness and evil. The closest to this kind of fiction is ELizabeth Goudge's. A tonic for the weary or despondent, it adds zest to life.
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on 13 August 2006
Although I came by this book by chance, I loved it. Eva Ibbotson has yet again managed to capture my imagination with this heart-breaking love story which is written around the World War. It shows how one girl has the courage to always keep going, even when the world seems to be against her. As usual, Eva Ibbotson has created lovable chareters who are perfect for this story. I would reccomed this book to young adults-adults, who are looking for an easy read to curl up with. It is truly another classic from Eva Ibbotson and should not be missed.
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on 3 March 2001
Eva Ibbotson excels at stylishly written romance without giving way to mawkishness or sentimentality. The overall shape of Morning Gift is much in the style of her other books, but she has moved forward from an idealised early 20th century to the harsh realities of 1938 Vienna.
Although this is a classic marriage of convenience plot where hero and heroine find they do have deeper feelings, the plot is really originally worked out and the back-story is lovingly crafted. The whole construct is spiced with a delicate, witty deflating of academic life, and some lovely comic vignettes, as well as some deeper moments of real anguish. The hero, Quin and his exquisite Ruth, are really vibrant, attractive and complex. I was cheering them on, and there were many moments which brought a lump to my throat. If you're a romance lover, this is a fantastic book.
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on 5 September 2008
This has to be one of my number one books. I have read it so many times that my own copy is falling apart!
Its basically about (without giving the plot away i hope) a girl called Ellen, who was raised to be an interlectual, but all she wanted to do was cook. So she was took up a job at Hallendorf school, which is a magical, and mysterious place. When Ellen took up the job she didn't know how unusual the school would be, nor what dangers she would have to go through to help the people she comes to love. It trully is a magical tale, that sends you through a mix of emotions. This book made me both cry and smile...and I would recomend it to anyone!
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on 21 September 2013
Eva Ibbotson is one of my favourite authors and I think that this has to be one of her best books, which I have re-read several times. I love romances and I really enjoy the charming world this book creates. These books seem to be marketed at young adults, but I think they are wonderful adult reads. Couldn't put this book down!
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on 3 August 2008
I am a huge Eva Ibbotson fan, but I have to admit that I was a bit disapointed by A Song For Summer. It's definitely not as good as The Secret Countess or The Morning Gift.

I can't really explain why. It's expertly written (her style is very like Jane Austen's) and there is a huge range of hilarious supporting characters, including an operatic diva, an aspiring young musician and a tortoise on wheels (I kid you not). But it doesn't seem to quite hang together.

The hero and heroine aren't very exciting. Ellen is good and kind and fairly boring. Marek is just your typical 'dark and brooding' guy, descended from the likes of Mr Rochester and Heithcliffe. But that's it - he has no original qualities whatsoever. Apart from an amazing ability to make wheels for tortoises (?). Their relationship doesn't really make for exciting reading. As soon as you meet him, you know they're guaranteed to fall in love. Only a little predictable.

Despite this, it is very funny in some places (the operatic diva and the nutty artsy school are hilarious) and is worth reading once. But if you've read The Secret Countess or The Morning Gift, don't expect to be surprised.
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on 6 October 2015
Thank you to lovereading for sending me this book. This is my last book by Eva Ibbotson that I am reviewing and I am kind of sad. I read this book in half a day and thoroughly enjoyed it. The story is written around The World War and it is a heart breaking love story, it is all about a girl called Ellen Carr who keeps on going even though the world is against her. I loved this book and Eva's others so much and I am glad I had the opportunity to read some brilliant classics. I am going to treasure them forever and probably re-read them all soon.
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on 20 September 2015
I like the interesting war time, it's written in, especially outside of UK. The characters don't always follow true to character. I found it frustrating how the story changes and jumps scenes, only explaining later why certain things happened. It also doesn't explain enough how people changed partners. The ending summery seems shallow and leaves you feeling unsatisfied.
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on 22 January 2013
Lovely book. See my reviews of other Eva Ibbotson novels for the panegyric. The novel is set before WWII and has its serious elements. These combined with a love story and detailed descriptions of nature make for an enjoyable read.
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on 28 August 2009
Ellen was raised to be an intellectual. But all she really wants to do is cook beautiful food. She is happy to leave behind the grey drizzle of London
for the beautiful austrian countryside to work at Hallendorf school for drama and dance. Ellen is swept up with the wild children, a tortoise on wheels and a mysterious gardener called Marek. But outside Hitler and the third reich are taking over europe...

I liked this book, It spanned over quite a long period of time, making it put down-able. It had Eva Ibbotson trademark description. I was taken with the 'wild children', and definately the tortoise on wheels. Classic.
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