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4.3 out of 5 stars
4.3 out of 5 stars

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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 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 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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on 8 May 2009
I'm a big fan of Ibbotson's books for older readers, particularly 'The morning gift' and 'The secret countess', so I was really looking forward to reading 'A song for summer'.
And it didn't disappoint - the characters are endearing and easy to like, and I thought the scenes with the schoolchildren/teachers were really well written. This story dosen't have a typical girl meets boy, gets together with boy storyline - I don't want to reveal too much here, but there was a happy ending!
Not as engaging as 'Countess' or 'Morning gift' but definately worth it. Can't wait for the next one!
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VINE VOICEon 11 May 2010
I thought I'd give this author a go because she'd come up in the context of discussions about other writers I enjoy, including Georgette Heyer. The opening section seemed to me the most satisfactory. The (gentle) satire on Ellen's mother and aunts was well done and I enjoyed the slightly unexpected focus on a girl whose family want her to be an intellectual but whose real talent is for homemaking.

But I did find the book's ideology just a bit *too* conservative for my taste. Cooking is great - but did Ellen have to be quite so passive and self effacing? Marek was in some ways a still more shadowy character - too much of an ideal sketch for my taste. And, maybe because I'm in my 40s, I didn't like the rather sneering depictions of older women throwing themselves hopelessly (hopelessly in the long term at any rate) at Marek. Yes, the story is moving, and in quite a delicate, subtle way, but personally I prefer sprightlier, more assertive heroines.

It's certainly a well written book - though perhaps not entirely well constructed. The writing and tone reminded me of earlier writers such as Dorothy Whipple - Ibbotson has a rather similar tough, clear eyed, moral, satirical yet humane approach to life.

The book is marketed at young girls but in some ways they don't seem to be the ideal target audience. It's a fairly light and easy read, yet it has a very wide and sophisticated frame of reference - history, music, social trends. I think this book might appeal most to older women (like me) who enjoy Persephone Press reprints. Despite my reservations, I enjoyed 'A Song for Summer' and think I'll give 'The Secret Countess' a go because it sounds a bit more jolly!
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on 19 January 2010
This book is difficult to rate. I loved the characters, the setting, the style of writing and most of the plot. But I felt that Ellen was the one character in the book who wasn't developed enough. Everyone else had wants and desires and feelings, but she only ever expressed the desire to marry Marek - and that wasn't even until the last quarter of the book! I also felt that the last quarter of the book was unncessarily sad. It just came out of nowhere, and suddenly EVERYTHING was sad. Yes, I do think that Ibbotson's portrayal of WWII was spot-on, but I felt a bit let down, and as if WWII took over Ellen's plot. Ironic, in a way, as WWII took over everyone's lives, but I still felt a bit disappointed in the last part of the book. Overall, I thoroughly enjoyed this book, but it doesn't quite reach the category of "I loved it." Ibbotson is wonderful at creating quirky characters and I loved the fact that Ellen's "thing" was cooking, cleaning and caring for children. People always think that I'm crazy for saying that getting married is more important to me than finishing my English Lit. degree, so it's encouraging to see that Ibbotson understands that there are some women out there who still feel themselves called to being wives and mothers. If I had to describe this book in one word that would sum up all of my feelings, I would say that it is Unique. I will definitely be looking out for more of Ibbotson's teenage novels in the future.
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on 3 November 2008
I am a huge fan of Eva Ibbotson and have read many of her other books (A Company of Swans, The Morning Gift, The Secret Countess and Journey Down The River Sea) which I really enjoyed, but this book did not live up to my expectations.
I found it confusing in many places and, although Ellen was a very good character, it was not as good as I thought it would be.
I would still recommend any fan to read this book though, because it is still a pleasant book.
By Nicole, aged 16.
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on 20 June 2009
I have read the Secret Countess before reading A Song for Summer, I really enjoyed the Secret Countess but this was even better.
It involves history, romance and music so beautifully put together, the descriptions of the surroundings were magical, you actually felt like you were there.
I would recommend this book to young adults but some adults might also enjoy it as well, it is fantastic!
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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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