A Song for Summer

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When Ellen Carr, daughter of a militant suffragette and raised to be an intellectual, takes a job in Austria as housemother at the Hallendorf School of Music, Drama and the Dance she simply wants to cook beautiful food. What she finds when she reaches Schloss Hallendorf is an eccentrically magical world occupied by wild children, naked Harmony teachers, experimental dancers and a tortoise on wheels. But idyllic as this life appears, outside the castle Hitler's Reich is already casting its menacing shadow over Europe and the ...

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GoluxGirl

Dec 17, 2008

academia, war, romance

Ellen is raised by forward-thinking, feminist suffragettes in genteel, academic, and nearly sterile surroundings. There's no lack of love but somehow a great lack of homey comfort, for which she longs. And so she creates a life for herself based on the gifts she has for creating home when surrounded by mere stone and wood. Like Ibbotson's other YA heroines, she is very good, and she is very lovable. But that doesn't mean she won't run into trouble and heartache.

I really enjoyed immersing myself in the Austrian countryside just before Hitler stormed though it. You could compare this in many ways to The Sound of Music, for setting and even for character. Take one mother-figure, add several displaced children, stir in some zany neighbors and academics, toss in the simmering touch of not-quite-attainable romance, and add the looming shadow of the Third Reich.

Ibbotson's prose has a lightly musical quality to it, sometimes layered and sometimes lyrical. I don't think the story itself will hold many surprises, but it is a very enjoyable read.

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