Thursday, April 15, 2010

The Reluctant Heiress - Eva Ibbotson

Summary: Being an heiress in 1920s Austria with nothing but a broken-down castle to your name and nary a penny in your purse could be frustrating for anyone but the Princess Theresa-Maria of Pfaffenstein. Tessa, however, is thrilled with her situation, as it allows her to concentrate on her love of the arts--and no one in the Viennese opera company need know that their delightful and charming under-wardrobe mistress is really a princess. But when the dashing self-made millionaire Guy Farne arrives at the opera in search of suitable entertainment for his high society guests, Tessa realizes that there may be more to life--and love--than just music. And while the attraction between them is undeniable, Guy's insufferable snob of a fiancee only solidifies Tessa's determination to keep her true identity a secret. Yet, after a chance meeting with the handsome Englishman, Tessa's reserve begins to melt, and she starts to wonder if it's too late for a fairy-tale ending. (Summary from book - Image from Amazon.com/uk)

My Review: This book (published first in 1982 as The Magic Flutes) has sat, dusty and ignored, on the top of my piano since it’s re-release in April 2009. I’ve put off reading it time and again, since the last two that I’ve read (here and here) just couldn’t hold a candle to Countess Below Stairs. Now I’m kicking myself. Hard.

The Reluctant Heiress was every bit as much fun as Countess and succeeded in rekindling my interest in Ibbotson’s other books (Star of Kazan, here I come!). Please keep in mind - I’m post-partum. This isn’t a depressing memoir. I couldn’t handle that even remotely. It’s not a controversial political rant or a supercilious self-help book. Thank heavens! It’s fairly predictable YA romance, and as such fulfills its intended purpose of delivering a delightful afternoon of happily-ever-afters.

Heiress is a pleasantly enchanting story that contains a hodge podge of eccentric, but endearing characters. I won’t go into them all, there simply isn’t the time. Tessa is just the right combination of innocence and stubbornness, princess and stagehand. She’s not flighty, but she’s not a complete know-it-all either. Guy manages to exude confidence, kindness, and integrity without being – let’s face it—dull as a turnip. He’s a good guy that you’ll actually LOVE. As for the supporting characters, I’ll just say that most were distinctive and entertaining while others were remarkably easy to despise. Nerine is the devil. The absolute devil.

Along the way, Tessa gets chucked in a lake to save her own skin, a button becomes the most benevolent of gifts, and a well-played deception fools someone who very much deserves it. I probably would have read it in a day (and nearly did) if I hadn’t been so busy with a cute little newborn. It was all I could do to just read this during Cora’s naps when I should have been sleeping.

If you like these kind of books – you’ll love this one!

My Rating: 5 Stars

Sum it up: Just the kind of romantic, fluffy lit that fulfills the all the fanciful longings of my post-partum hormones.

1 comment:

Tribute Books said...

Thanks for the good review!

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