A sparkly and witty historical romance for fans of Georgette Heyer, Amanda Quick and Downton Abbey
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. But while the attraction between them in undeniable, Guy's insufferable snob of a fiancée 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 not too late for a fairytale ending?
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Eva Ibbotson, born Maria Charlotte Michelle Wiesner (21 January 1925 – 20 October 2010), was an Austrian-born British novelist, known for her children's books. Some of her novels for adults have been successfully reissued for the young adult market in recent years. For the historical novel Journey to the River Sea (Macmillan, 2001), she won the Smarties Prize in category 9–11 years, garnered unusual commendation as runner up for the Guardian Prize, and made the Carnegie, Whitbread, and Blue Peter shortlists. She was a finalist for the 2010 Guardian Prize at the time of her death. Her last book, The Abominables, was one of eight books on the longlist for the same award in 2012.From School Library Journal:
Grade 8 Up—In post-World War I Austria, Englishman and self-made magnate Guy Farne buys a countryside castle as part of an elaborate plan to woo Nerine, the woman he loved and lost as a penniless teenager. Meanwhile Tessa, Pfaffenstein Castle's headstrong young heiress, revels in the anonymity of life as a junior wardrobe mistress at the International Opera Company in Vienna. When Guy commissions the company to stage a production of Mozart's Magic Flute at Pfaffenstein, he and Tessa meet and bond over their love of art and music. He is unaware of her connection to his new estate until her identity is revealed at a lavish ball held to introduce Nerine to Austrian society. Though drawn to Tessa, Guy stays faithful to his deliciously snobby fiancée. In the meantime Tessa fields the dogged (and comic) marriage proposals of a local prince. Predictably, the star-crossed pair eventually get their well-deserved happy ending. The novel opens with too much telling instead of showing, but Ibbotson hits her stride once all the players assemble at the castle. Vivid details bring supporting characters to life. German phrases and literary allusions may escape young readers, but do not detract from the overall flow of the narrative. There is nothing groundbreaking here, but this is satisfactory historical romance for future fans of Philippa Gregory.—Amy Pickett, Ridley High School, Folsom, PA
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