A Song for Summer by Eva Ibbotson

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 himโ€”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.

Other reviews:
Book Harbinger
Bookshelves of Doom
The Compulsive Reader

10 thoughts on “A Song for Summer by Eva Ibbotson

    • What did you think of A Countess Below Stairs? If you enjoyed that one then I have a feeling you’d like the rest of her books. She really is a lovely writer and her books deserve to get more attention.

  1. People seem to vary widely on their favorites of Ibbotson’s books. I love that because it means the characters and their lives are speaking to the ones they’re meant to. I, like most people, enjoyed them all. But A COMPANY OF SWANS and A SONG FOR SUMMER are my favorites. ๐Ÿ™‚

    • Angie, you’re absolutely right. Our favorites let us know who we can really relate to in her novels. Like you, I enjoyed them all but I’ll always have a special place in my heart for A Countess Below Stairs because that’s the first Ibbotson that I read. I remember looking at the cover and summary in the bookstore and thinking that it seemed like something I’d like and I was right. ๐Ÿ™‚

  2. I didn’t even realize Ibbotson wrote YA novels. I LOVED her book Which Witch when I was younger, and really liked her other children’s books like The Secret of Platform 13 and Island of the Aunts. I’m definitely going to find some of her YAs and get started! Thanks for review this book–I probably wouldn’t have heard about it otherwise!

    • I’m not even sure if her YA novels were originally written as adult novels and were just repackaged as YA. In any case, they’re excellent books and I’m happy to spread the word about them. I really should read some of her children’s novels, maybe the next time I feel like I need more Eva Ibbotson in my life. Hope you get to read this or one of her other YA novels soon. ๐Ÿ™‚

  3. I felt a little mixed about this one as well. I haven’t read The Reluctant Heiress – I must do that if it’s one of your favorites. ๐Ÿ™‚ Nice review! I love her YA covers as well and I agree with you saying they’re comfort reads. If I’m in a slump or had a bad reading experience I know I can count on Ibbotson to do the trick!

    • I read your review and I agree with everything that you said! I was actually surprised that the book had a Part II. It would have been okay if the book ended in Part I and then maybe an epilogue. In any case, this book didn’t diminish my love for the author. ๐Ÿ™‚ Oooh hope you get to read The Reluctant Heiress soon!

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