When 18-year-old Ellen accepts the post of housekeeper at Hallendorf School of Music, Drama and Dance she wasn't expecting it to be quite so unusual. For deep in the beautiful Austrian countryside, she finds an eccentrically magical world occupied by wild children and even wilder teachers, experimental dancers, and a tortoise on wheels. Ellen is particularly intrigued by the enigmatic, and very handsome, Marek, part-time gardener and fencing teacher.Life in Hallendorf seems idyllic, but outside Hitler's Reich is already casting its menacing shadow over Europe. Through her growing friendship with Marek, Ellen begins to encounter the dreadful reality of a world on the brink of war. And by the time she has figured out Marek's true identity and his dangerous mission, she is completely in love with him - and equally sure that her love will never be requited.More
"Ibbotson...gives life to characters of great depth and beautifully re-creates prewar Vienna and its surrounding countryside." (Booklist)
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Abridging Ibbotson is sacrilegous!
Despite my unending love for all of Eva Ibbotson's work, the audio abridgment of this one ripped the soul out of it. The reduction of gilded descriptions of a world verging on fairytale fantasy removes the very essence of Ibbotson's writing, making it almost cringey to listen to at places.
Nothing is disappointing about the story, her writing is beautiful, it is simply the abridgment of it I abhor. If you listened to this with no prior knowledge of Ibbotson's writing, please do yourself the favour of reading her books, they are far, far more wonderful than this portrayed them.
Make it unabridged!