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January 2019



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Take Me Back To Vienna

I enjoyed these two books by Eva Ibbotson so much that I snapped up a copy of The Star of Kazan when I saw it in a charity shop the other day. Journey to the River Sea won all the prizes but I like this one better.

It starts all charm and fairy tale, when a foundling is brought to live in a bourgeois home in Vienna, in 1896. The child grows up as a servant but she is loved, secure, respected. Then everything changes and the scene moves to northern Germany. Suddenly, it’s a thriller and I raced through to the end. It’s beautifully written and very atmospheric. Austria, full of warmth, kindness, flowers, good food, is contrasted with a cold, bleak and warlike Germany. In the background, the vast Hungarian plain and its horses, which play such an important part in the story. A child reading this might take in subliminally a picture of Europe before the First World War, much as an adult would get a feel of between-the-wars Europe from Patrick Leigh Fermor’s A Time of Gifts. The heroine is brave and kind, her friends are true and one of them overcomes agoraphobia to help her. The bad people don’t end as unhappily as one might wish but the good are as happy as they deserve to be. All this and Lipizzaner horses, too!


That sounds great, I'm going to have to buy it.
I lurved it.


I have this one sitting on my shelf, but haven't read it yet so am now inspired! Do try to get hold of The Morning Gift - I'll bring it back from M's next weekend if you don't succeed. Donna
I was going to offer to lend it to you! The Morning Gift is on my Must Read list now.
I adore Eva Ibbotsen's work. My very favourite is "A Countess Below Stairs" (recently reissued as "The Secret Countess") - have you read that one yet? It's lovely. "The Morning Gift" is another big favourite of mine.
I raved about The Secret Countess a couple of posts ago: there's a link in the post above. It's so lovely to discover a new author. I read Journey to the River Sea when it came out but it didn't inspire me like these others. Everyone is recommending The Morning Gift: I can't wait!
Ooh, my daughter has Journey to the River Sea on her book shelves, I'll check it out. Never read Eva Ibbotson before. I believe she's in her eighties isn't she? Nicola
JTRS is good, although I prefer the others I've mentioned.

Eva Ibbotson must be pretty old: about Judith Kerr vintage, I'd guess, as she has a similar European/escape to England background.