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Thursday, June 3, 2010

The Reluctant Heiress - Eva Ibbotson

Read for the 2010 YA and Historical Fiction Reading Challenges.

Tessa is the under-wardrobe mistress of one of 1920s Vienna’s opera houses, where she loves being in the thick of things. It’s hard work, but she loves it, and everyone in the opera company adores her. What they don’t know is that she’s really Princess Theresa-Maria of Pfaffenstein, one of the highest ranked nobles before Austria became a republic after the war. Tessa likes it that way – she’d rather labor in quiet anonymity in the back room.

But being a pre-republic princess brings with it an aging castle that she’s decided to sell. And when a handsome British millionaire buys Pfaffenstain castle, Tessa’s life changes dramatically. Guy Farne is a self-made millionaire. He was a foundling, which lost him the girl of his dreams because her family thought he was beneath them. Ten years later, Nerine is a widow, and he’s a millionaire, which makes him imminently more eligible. He’s decided to buy a castle to show Nerine’s family how his status has risen in the world.

By chance, Guy and Tessa met at the opera house. He doesn’t know that she’s the mysterious princess that has approved the sale of the castle from afar, and she doesn’t know that he’s the new owner of Pfaffenstein castle. They hit it off immediately over their shared love of opera.

You can probably see where this story is going, but it’s a fun ride to get there. The settings of the 1920s opera house and the world of Austrian nobility holding to their old ways even as the country has changed, is great fun. Tessa is great character, and there are parts of Guy that I liked (though he’s really an idiot when it comes to love). Definitely a fun read.

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