©1985 Eva Ibbotson; (P)2008 Recorded Books, LLC
I borrowed this book from a local library shortly after it was published with no knowledge of the author, and no expectations. And the plot is pure hokum - anyone who has ever read a Mills and Boon (or Harlequin) romance will know what's going on from the start - but oh, what lovely writing illuminates the story. Funny, poignant, sometimes wickedly sly - all with a completely clear understanding of my understanding of the genre made it an instant, and often re-read favorite, and an author I searched for in bookstores.
To find it now, well read (albeit with a sometimes strange take on the Russian accents) and completely unabridged to add to our audio library is a complete joy.
Should you be equally charmed, try Ms Ibbotson's children's books. I had to when I ran out of grown up titles in her (at the time very short) canon, and am now torn as to which are better fun. Anyone who can invent "The gliding kilt" as a ghostly character has to be commended, and read at any age.
A charming story in the classic mode told and read with the gentle irony that keeps it from being commonplace. Harriet is a perfect heroine in the long and honorable tradition of Sarah Carew. Like all of Ms Ibbotson's women she is triumphant because we must believe that kindness, humor and ability are rewarded by a just and well ordered universe. The best of rainy day books.
I was hoping I could bear with the narrator, Patricia Conolly, on this one and eventually get used to her, but some of her character voices are simply AWEFUL. Her children's voices sound like bratty whiny mice; the kind of voice you would use in a comedy to get a big reaction. But worse is her voice for the main character Ruth. I don't know if its because she is trying to do an Austrian accent, but it is just annoying, sluggish and unattractive. It makes it nearly impossible to like the character. Even her regular 3rd person narration was difficult to stay focused with. I've listen to over a hundred audiobooks and this makes it onto my very short RUINED list.
Do you ever have those days when you just need a hug? When you want to slip into something comfortable, curl into a blanket, and let your mind wander to happy, uncomplicated places? If so, you will love this little gem of a book with its sweet story, intelligent writing, and charmingly earnest heroine. Although the plot is uncomplicated and the ending is fairy-tale perfect, this book should not be dismissed as “mindless fluff.” Although there were a few instances of over-the-top saccharinity, as a whole Ms. Ibbotson’s prose is measured and thoughtful, resulting in a story that is utterly delightful in its deliberate simplicity.
The first Eva Ibbotson novel that I bought (“The Secret Countess”) was narrated by Davina Porter, who I absolutely love. So when I saw that Patricia Connolly, who I was previously unfamiliar with, was the narrator for this book, I was a little disappointed. I shouldn't have been. Although Ms. Connolly isn’t quite as good as Davina Porter, she brings a gentle lyricism to this story that is very similar to Ms. Porter’s. Plus, listening to her narrate is like listening to my mom tell me a story (if my mom had a British accent!) Sweet and comforting, I highly recommend this audiobook to anyone whose ever had "one of those days." I'd also recommend "The Secret Countess," which I liked even better, although it's fair to say that both books are like chocolate for the soul.
In pursuit of truth, justice, and an end to spoilers!
This story is like a soft blanket with elegant, lace edging. It's a bedtime story for young-at-heart adults who grew up loving Frances Hodgson Burnett's novels and want to recapture that feeling.
It's the prose that makes this book. The author knows the secrets of storytelling and infuses her work with warmth. She's taken a simple romantic plot and turned it into a classy, timeless tale.
The plot follows a young woman as she runs away to join a ballet company, see the world, and find adventure and romance. The characters are engaging and the settings are rich. But it almost doesn't matter what the plot is about.
This is something you read because the author knows how to tell a lovely story. She really does, too. I've gone on to read some of her other books and the same old-fashioned, skilled storytelling graces each one.
If you liked Burnett's "The Secret Garden" or "A Little Princess" as a child, cuddle up with Eva Ibbotson. She'll make you smile.
It started out a little slow. But, once it gets going, it's a very good story. I grew to like the narrater who seemed a bit cold at first.
No - it was boring not nearly as exciting as other Eva Ibbotson titles. Maybe I just listened to too many of them in a row.
The writer has passed away so that is not possible
Among the top in the Romance category, and not the slutty, totally-inappropriate-for-younger-readers-and listeners type of Romance either.
I can't think of one off the top of my head that the whole story reminds me of. There are elements that remind me of other stories, but I can't think of one that's very much like it in plot or subject.
Rom Verney - he's the hero, the love interest, and has a tragic past.
"A thoroughly satisfying romance"
The only problem I found with this book was...on second thought, I can't think of a single thing I found wrong with it, except maybe that it ended - but even that was perfect, and exactly what it should be.
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