Eva Ibbotson is one of my favorite YA authors. She writes historical fiction novels with romance in them. I’ve read all of her YA novels except for A Song for Summer and I’ve been saving it up for when I feel like getting cozy with a good book. That time came up last week and I finally got to read this.
Here’s the summary from Goodreads:
Eighteen-year-old Ellen never expected the Hallendorf school to be, well, quite so unusual. After all, her life back in England with her suffragette mother and liberated aunts certainly couldn’t be called normal. But buried deep in the beautiful Austrian countryside, Ellen discovers an eccentric world occupied by wild children and even wilder teachers, experimental dancers and a tortoise on wheels. And then there is the particularly intriguing, enigmatic, and very handsome Marek, part-time gardener and fencing teacher. Ellen is instantly attracted to the mysterious gardener, but Hitler’s reich is already threatening their peaceful world. Only when she discovers Marek’s true identity and his dangerous mission does Ellen realize the depth of her feelings for him—and the danger their newfound love faces in the shadow of war.
I mentioned this in my review of A Company of Swans last year but I want to say it again: there’s something about Eva Ibbotson’s writing that makes her novels comfort reads even when you’re reading them for the first time. Maybe because she usually writes about bright, happy, young women – all of them intriguing in their own way. They’re the kind of girls that everyone loves and Ellen is no exception. She’s young but has very motherly traits because her passion lies in taking care of the household and everything involved in that – cooking, baking, cleaning, doing the laundry and making everyone else more comfortable. At first, her liberated mother and aunts were disappointed because they wanted bigger things for her but they eventually accepted that Ellen is bound to excel in whatever she does. I love that Ellen was brave enough to go after what she really wanted even when it meant that she can’t be a doctor, lawyer or professor like her relatives wanted. She’s such a sweet person but with a backbone of steel that becomes evident when the need arises. It’s not surprising that all of the characters in book are drawn to her.
A Song for Summer is a charming novel but the latter part of the book was a bit frustrating. I wanted Ellen to get her happy ending, she deserved that and more for being the kind of person she is. I felt like she had to go through so much for it to happen. There were several bumps in the road when it comes to the romance in this novel and I think I would have loved the book more if there was less conflict. There were times when I wanted to knock some sense into the guy and tell him that he shouldn’t be hurting her feelings. But I guess that’s what happens when romance gets complicated because of war, everyone suffers although you can’t help but hope that things would eventually work out. Overall, an enjoyable read that I would probably pick up again but A Countess Below Stairs and The Reluctant Heiress are still my favorite Ibbotsons. I feel kind of bad that I’ve finished reading all of her YA novels because I want more of them! Oh well, I still have to go through her children’s novels and I have a feeling they’re good too. If you’re a YA fan and you’ve never heard of Eva Ibbotson, you should definitely remedy that situation. Her novels are lovely and something that can be enjoyed by any reader. Oh and if you have recommendations similar to her work, feel free to let me know. I would love to discover more authors like her.