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Grade 8 Up—In post-World War I Austria, Englishman and self-made magnate Guy Farne buys a countryside castle as part of an elaborate plan to woo Nerine, the woman he loved and lost as a penniless teenager. Meanwhile Tessa, Pfaffenstein Castle's headstrong young heiress, revels in the anonymity of life as a junior wardrobe mistress at the International Opera Company in Vienna. When Guy commissions the company to stage a production of Mozart's Magic Flute at Pfaffenstein, he and Tessa meet and bond over their love of art and music. He is unaware of her connection to his new estate until her identity is revealed at a lavish ball held to introduce Nerine to Austrian society. Though drawn to Tessa, Guy stays faithful to his deliciously snobby fiancée. In the meantime Tessa fields the dogged (and comic) marriage proposals of a local prince. Predictably, the star-crossed pair eventually get their well-deserved happy ending. The novel opens with too much telling instead of showing, but Ibbotson hits her stride once all the players assemble at the castle. Vivid details bring supporting characters to life. German phrases and literary allusions may escape young readers, but do not detract from the overall flow of the narrative. There is nothing groundbreaking here, but this is satisfactory historical romance for future fans of Philippa Gregory.—Amy Pickett, Ridley High School, Folsom, PA
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Eva Ibbotson, born Maria Charlotte Michelle Wiesner (21 January 1925 – 20 October 2010), was an Austrian-born British novelist, known for her children's books. Some of her novels for adults have been successfully reissued for the young adult market in recent years. For the historical novel Journey to the River Sea (Macmillan, 2001), she won the Smarties Prize in category 9–11 years, garnered unusual commendation as runner up for the Guardian Prize, and made the Carnegie, Whitbread, and Blue Peter shortlists. She was a finalist for the 2010 Guardian Prize at the time of her death. Her last book, The Abominables, was one of eight books on the longlist for the same award in 2012.
I wish I had never read this, so I could experience again the transporting joy of reading it for the first time. Read morePublished 5 months ago by James Kenney
I liked this book, although it wasn't her best. I sort of thought that it was a waste of time, but I like the plot. It was the characters. Read morePublished 9 months ago by Selena#1
Didn't love this one. Maybe I'm getting burnt out on Ibbotson's class issues, but I think Countess Below Stairs was the best of the lot and this one just didn't measure up.Published 14 months ago by November
Princess Theresa-Maria was an heiress in Austria in the 1920's but now she is without a fortune and a title. Read morePublished 17 months ago by Maude Estee
Interesting. Most of her books are similar stories but easy to read and interesting about English culture. I have four of them.Published 18 months ago by Ruth A. Unks
Same grandmother, another child. Emily is a wonderful fourteen year old who reads a lot, mostly digital on her I Pad. Read morePublished 21 months ago by Marion A. Knott
I LOVE the author Eva Ibbotson, but I feel of all her books, this one mostly contains recycled plot material from other books and lacks the depth in the romance of her other... Read morePublished on June 9, 2013 by Amazon Customer
I read this book after reading Ibbotson's other book, "The Secret Countess." Perhaps it is just because I read another one of this book style from her, but to me it seemed... Read morePublished on November 11, 2012 by Brain_Byte
I'm about halfway through this novel. I picked it up as part of an effort to broaden the genres I read (I've never read anything that could be counted as either historical or... Read morePublished on July 22, 2011 by La Luna Unita