A Song for Summer by Eva Ibbotson

songforsummer.jpgI went to my local Borders this morning and while browsing the YA section was startled to come across paperback editions of two of Eva Ibbotson’s books–A Song for Summer and A Countess Below Stairs. They were published by the Speak imprint of Puffin with newly designed appealing-to-teens (?) covers. I was startled for two reasons. 1. Though I had recommended Song for Summer many times to adults, it had never occurred to me to recommend it to a teen, and 2. I had just mentioned Song for Summer in yesterday’s post and so it seems that now is the time to write about it. Let me add a third reason I was surprised to see this book there. When I first read it I was utterly captivated by what is a charming and surprising story. It was the first book I read by Ibbotson and I went on to read many of her other adult books. She was not a popular author and I liked to recommend her to certain readers. She gained popularity and an entirely new audience when kids discovered her funny and magical children’s books. So I guess I’m pleased that a publisher is trying to market her older, wonderful novels to a new audience and I do hope that more people read her books. Of course, there’s a little bit of me that says, “hey! I read her first!” But, on to the book…

I’ve tagged this book with “historical” and “romance” categories, but I wouldn’t classify it as a historical romance. Instead, it is just a rich and wonderful story, which happens to include a love story and be set during WWII. What I remember about this book (I read it ever so long ago, but thinking about it makes me want to reread very soon) is that I started reading one book and finished an entirely different. Ellen is raised in a houseful of liberated women involved in the suffragette movement. She is surrounded by smart and lively women who encourage her to shake off the chains of male oppression, to do whatever she wants, and not let society stop her. Much to their shock, what Ellen wants are very traditional, domestic things. So much so that she takes a position as a housekeeper at a boarding school [boarding school-do you see why I first picked up this book?] in Austria. The school is wacky and weird as it adheres to bizarre educational philosophies, but Ellen finds her way there and brings love, affection, and order into the boarders’ and staff’s lives. Her romance with Marek, the school’s handyman flourishes and all is well until the Nazis intervene. And here is where it turns into a fascinating story as Marek is really a brilliant musician hiding out and Ellen must flee now dangerous Austria. It was such an interesting perspective of the war and very different from the novel I just finished, Dream When You’re Feeling Blue.

Ibbotson is a wonderful writer of lovely old fashioned romantic stories and I recommend you give her a try!


11 thoughts on “A Song for Summer by Eva Ibbotson

  1. Hey! I’m 16 and i just saw today the book in Borders and i read the short summary the book brings, and it captive my attention, but i didn’t buy it, because I’m not that convince. So, I came now and search for info about the book, and i read your opinion, and I think I’m going to read it. I like romantic novels, and also mysterious ones. I read the Twilight series and I loved them. I think I’m going to read A Song for Summer, and I wish I would like it. I’ll appreciate a lot if you can tell me more about it, before I buy it. Thank so much.

  2. It’s been a long time since I read this, but I definitely recommend it. I remember thinking that it was just such a good story as well as a really moving romance. I liked Twilight a lot too, so maybe we have similar taste? Though this isn’t anything like it, they are both romantic. Song for Summer has a really great historical angle to it. If you read it I’d love to know what you think of it!

  3. Okay, so I am also 16 and I ALSO so A Song for Summer today at Borders. I guess the teen-attracting title caught my eye because I that’s what made me pick up the book. I didn’t have any money with me, so I didn’t buy it, but I came home and looked it up on Amazon, and also looked here, to see if it’s any good. Thanks to your entry, I’m going to read it. Oh, and I wanted to know what you think of Ibbotson’s books: The Morning Gift, A Company of Swans, and A Countess Below Stairs. They also sound interesting, and I wanted to know your thoughts on them before I read. Thanks!

  4. I think I read a Morning Gift, but not the others. Though really, I don’t know why I wouldn’t have because I looked at A Countess Below Stairs, too, and thought it looked great. I honestly don’t remember A Morning Gift, but think it was somewhat old-fashioned (which is a plus to me) and charming. I’d love to know what you think of A Song for Summer! Happy reading, stephanie.

  5. I’m a great fan of Eva Ibbotsons books. I’m 16 and I read ‘Jourey to the River Sea’ years ago. I can’t remember much about it but I know that its one of her childrens books. I recently (well, in the last few years) read ‘The Star of Kazan’ which I think is another childrens one I have also read ‘A song for summer’ but I don’t think I was very much older when I read that.

    I think that it is quite possible that people take too much notice of whether books are in children, adults or teenagers sections. A good book can be enjoyed by most, regardless of age.

    Song for summer is one of my all-time-favourite books and I would appreciate it if, based on that and the fact that I also like Jane Austen novels, Atonement by Ian McEwan and Celia Rees’ novel (Witch chlid, etc.) everyone could suggest some books I would like. I woud be happy to return the favour!

  6. Hey!! I’ve read A song for Summer and i think it is really brilliant book! I read it one year ago and I loved it very much. I’m from Austria and I’m 17 years old!!! When I read the book I could imagine everything that happened, it was like a movie and I couldn’t stop reading it!!
    I think Eva Ibbotson is a really good writer because now I’m reading “Journey to the River Sea”! So far I like it also very much!!!
    bye 🙂 marie

  7. These recent comments on Ibbotson books are making me yearn to reread (or read anew) her books.

    Jess-I completely agree that people get hung up on whether or not a book is ya or adult or childrens. When I was a kid my mom often read the same books as my brothers and me. It was great and the habit of sharing books has continued into adulthood. For a reading recommendation, have you tried any Shannon Hale?

    Marie-I can only imagine that being from Austria you must have been able to envision the book much more clearly in your head.

    Thanks to both of you for checking out my blog!

  8. Thanks for the tip on Shannon Hale. I’ll have a look. Yes sharing books is one of the most rewarding things to do. Especially with loved ones because you know what they will like! I actually got my friend (who never read) into reading that way.

    Yes, A song for summer is magical in the way that it draws you into the world and you can imagine everything as if your there. I would love it to be made into a film….but only if it was the way I imagined it! I don’t think this is very likely!


  9. I’ve been looking for more of Eva Ibbotson’s books lately and this review really makes me want to look for it, immediately! Currently, I’m an expatriate in a country where it is very hard to find books in english, so I’ve been compiling a list of any books that I’d like to buy when I go back to one of my home countries (Either UK or US) and this book has definitely caught my eye. When I was littler, maybe 9-10 years old, I went through a major obsession with her children’s books. I especially liked Monster Mission and The Secret of Platform 13. I’d love to read some more of Ibbotson’s books for adults now that I’m a bit older.

  10. i’m 14 and my english teacher recommended eva ibbotson to me at the beginning of the year.i’ve been hooked on ibbotsons books since.a song for summer is probably one of my favorites of ibbotsons books.it tells such an interesting story,set in one of my favorite places in europe,in one of my favorite historical periods~1900’s-1950’s(is that weird?to have a favorite historical period?)
    i adore her books and really wish that i had discovered her earlier(before she died)
    hannah x x

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