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A Song For Summer

3.79  ·  Rating Details  ·  5,084 Ratings  ·  391 Reviews
Ellen never expected the Hallendorf school to be quite so unusual. Her life back in England with her suffragette mother and liberated aunts certainly couldn't be called normal, but buried deep in the beautiful Austrian countryside, Ellen discovers an eccentric world occupied by wild children and even wilder teachers, experimental dancers and a tortoise on wheels. And then ...more
282 pages
Published (first published September 7th 1997)
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(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
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Sep 07, 2007 Jessica rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: youngadult
Having now read two of Ibbotson's teen romances, I am beginning to see a trend. Both have featured angelic young women who coo over babies and frolic in meadows and have no personality whatsoever. These young women fall in love with great guys: tough, handsome, intelligent, whom they barely know. Lovely.
If you ever get a chance to read A Song for Summer, for Godssake run away.

I haven't had such a visceral negative reaction to a heroine since Twilight. I picture her something like this:

"My name is Ellen I was raised by eccentric, rich, and intelligent Aunts in London. They wanted me to go to school for intellectual pursuits, but all I wanted to do was follow Grandpa's housekeeper around! I want to be a housekeeper when I grow up and go work at a school with unruly, Godless children who need to l
Mar 18, 2008 Angie rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: belovedbookshelf, ya
Set in Austria and London just before and during World War II, A Song for Summer follows a young woman named Ellen Carr who takes a job as a housekeeper at an unusual private school in the Austrian Alps. I knew this book and I would get on when Ellen first arrived at Schloss Hallendorf to find a tortoise on wheels speeding across the lawn.

Soon after the well-equipped tortoise, Ellen encounters Professor Chomsky who teaches metalwork and swims naked in the lake at all hours, Professor Ritter who
Jul 31, 2012 Jill rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
If you have read any of my previous reviews of books by Eva Ibbotson, you already more or less know the plot: The protagonist is a young, beautiful girl who is well-born but eschews her status as part of her love and appreciation for the little joys in life, including domesticity, nature, and rewards reaped from kindness. She is loved by all, including the surly, the old, the young, the birds and the bees. Along comes a princely type who falls for her goodness and simplicity as well as her beaut ...more
Jennifer Heise
Oct 24, 2013 Jennifer Heise rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Eva Ibbotson's romances are all of the same pattern, Viennese pastry fiction. Incredibly stubborn, kindly, eccentric young girl who gets along well with her elders and youth-- though not necessarily her own peers-- defies her parents and has an adventure, encountering her perfect match-- but she is hampered by loyalty/attachment to a young man she grew up with. The eccentric side characters are mostly loveable, and even the worst either end with finality or reform when seen in their perfect circ ...more
I guess I'm losing hope in Eva Ibbotson. Her books are hopelessly YA fiction. High-end YA fiction, but still lumped in the category.
And what have I come to expect of YA fiction?
Absolutely no redeeming value, episodes of teenagers or young adults with no self-control or morals that they abandon with a disheartening lack of regret or hesitation, language, flighty heroines and perfect heroes who are really nothing but fluff under the skin. That's what I expect.

Unfortunately, that's what I get.

Jul 02, 2010 Erica rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
I'm going to have to go ahead and call this book flat out silly. I picked it up because I had read Ibbotson's A Countess Below Stairs some years ago and vaguely seem to remember having liked it. It can't have been this bad else I'd have remembered, I'm convinced.

The heroine is Ellen, the domestic goddess who loves cooking and hugging babies and is beautiful beyond compare. The hero is Marek, the dashing gardener and fencing teacher who is also a member of the Resistance and a very famous compose
It's been a LONG time since I read a book that made me forgo all other plans and curl up in my bed until the last page was turned. I love when I have to do that.

What is a Song for Summer? It's a romance, pure and simple - but a romance that begins in the most tumultuous of times in a place on the brink of war. Hitler is already stirring and making life difficult in Germany when Ellen arrives in a picturesque village in Austria. The run-down boarding school where she's taken a position is the lea
Okay, so this book is in two parts. The first part is about 80% of the book and it is a very nice story! Maybe it didn't blow me away, but I liked it. It was satisfying.

But then the last 20% of the book was all weirdly dramatic! Big spoilers here. (view spoiler)
May 13, 2016 Jesten rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
As per usual, Eva used her pure genius to craft a story that was heartwarming, historical and awesome.
Feb 21, 2009 Chelsea rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Chelsea by: Jen
I was underwhelmed by this one, especially after how much I enjoyed A Company of Swans. I found Ellen's "thing" (the oft-underrated domestic arts) far less interesting than Harriet's (ballet!). I found it odd that the romance seemed to be relatively unimportant to the story until the very end, when it became the only part of the story.

And what a cop out that was, too. The drama and conflict felt so manufactured, which is ridiculous - there was a perfectly good way to have realistic drama through
Reviews from a Bookworm
Now I get to say that I was wrong about Magic Flutes, and then I was wrong about A Company of Swan. THIS BOOK is my favourite Eva Ibbotson novel so far. I really ended up loving this one, I adored the beautiful Austrian setting of this one. I really liked both of our main characters here, Ellen was as lovely as I have come to expect from an Eva Ibbotson novels. And Marek actually became my favourite male lead from any of her novels, he completely won me over.

Marek is not only a gardener and fenc
May 05, 2010 Sarah rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
I'm in the process of devouring each of Eva Ibbotson's books for young girls and while I enjoy much of the process I leave each book feeling a little flat.
I thought at first that this book would be an exception to that trend. Her heroine's all fit a comfortable mold of being not all that interesting, having one hobby that consumes their time and talents (i.e. ballet, opera, etc.) being weak in the personality department, and yet inexplicably loved by all creatures they come across. The love int
Oct 17, 2011 Chachic rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Originally posted here.

Eva Ibbotson is one of my favorite YA authors. She writes historical fiction novels with romance in them. I've read all of her YA novels except for A Song for Summer and I've been saving it up for when I feel like getting cozy with a good book. That time came up last week and I finally got to read this.

I mentioned this in my review of A Company of Swans last year but I want to say it again: there's something about Eva Ibbotson's writing that makes her novels comfort reads
Jan 05, 2012 Britain rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: pg-13-reads
This book was the most morally wonky of Ibbotson's books that I have read so far. There are several married couples that cheat on one another toward the end (including the heroine) the Russian ballerina is just vulgar, and the children in the book are shipped off to an anarchy-driven school by disinterested parents. Think hippies and free love... that is how the environment feels when the innocent main character first arrives at the school. It is really unfortunate to watch this twisted morality ...more
May 12, 2012 Sarah rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I love all novels that attest to music's incomparable power, and A Song for Summer does so brilliantly. The story's heroine, young Ellen, relocates from England to Austria, partly to escape the expectations of her suffragette mother and aunts. She lands a job as matron at an eccentric arts school, where she's allowed to bask in her favorite activities, namely cooking, observing nature, and lovingly tending to the school's largely dysfunctional student body and staff. Ellen's life soon becomes en ...more
Dec 02, 2014 Evan rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I love this book. Yes it is a little hokey, but I found it incredibly endearing. All the characters are so full of life and each so different from the other. I love the main character. I found her relentless maternal instinct to be warm and comforting. I did read this when I was about 16 so I know it doesn't hold up as well when you read it as an adult, but Ibbotson paints with her words the most charming picture with this book. I always want to crawl inside of it and live there.
Jun 28, 2010 Susannah rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Susannah by: Me, Myself and I
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Nov 22, 2015 Laura rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I'd rate this 3 and a half stars if I could. I love Ibbotson's writing and the care she puts into each character. There were so many characters that I got confused several times as to who was who.

Mar 31, 2009 Amanda rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Maybe I should've given it two stars...but it was just such a disappointment after "A Company of Swans". I'm not sure what could compare, but I thought with the same author I might have a shot of another winner. Nope. Too many ups and downs in the storyline...this guy was having a major identity crisis: First, he's a gardener, then he's a woodsman, then he's a spy and next the most renowned composer in the world, then a fighter pilot...ugh...and then the most drawn out ridiculous end to a book I ...more
Dec 05, 2014 Caitlyn rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: ya-reads, hahaha-why
I couldn't finish this. I got about half way through but the obscure references, German words, wildly switching POVs, and lackluster characters just weren't cutting it for me. I admit defeat.
A Song for Summer: 1
Me: 0
Mary Haake
I had a really hard time getting into this one. The author is obviously a great journalist. She has a ton of knowledge about music, Austria and WWII. I felt like she was using all of that knowledge and research as an excuse to write a book of fiction.
I thought the main character was unapproachable and hard to relate too. The story itself seemed weak and confused. Is it a love story, an excuse to spout off life philosophies or a commentary of the injustices of war? I'm sure other people really w
May 20, 2015 Alicia rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition

I liked that other Ibbotson sort-of-YA sort-of-romance book I read, so thought I'd give this one a shot. And it's also pretty great! It focuses on Ellen, a young woman raised by her suffragette/career women mother and aunts, who are mildly disappointed that she's much more interested in domestic stuff (she is very clever though). So she goes off to be the matron of a British boarding school in Austria, which would be totally idyllic--except . . . it's 1937
Nov 03, 2014 Lorie rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I loved this book because it was so delightfully funny and upbeat, especially considering the topics it covers. Ellen, who ought to be an aristocrat in 1930s England, would rather be a cook, much to her family's horror. Taking a job as the young Matron of students in a small, private, "progressive" school in rural Austria, she must deal with everything from bazaar teachers who swim in the nude or carry around a love-child with no diapers on (in order to be more "natural") to wild-eyed and broken ...more
Mazzou B
May 23, 2014 Mazzou B rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
This is an adult book. That is one thing necessary to make clear!
Although I love this author's books for children, her wrong beliefs come strongly forward in this book. She evidently believes God's laws for modesty and chasteness are not necessary. The characters in this book belong to a group which swims in the nude, doesn't honor the sanctity of marriage, etc. Thankfully there is no appearance that the author stands for homosexuality. Still...I was very disappointed by her beliefs evident in
Paige Miller
This book was full of so many moments where I wanted to cry - so many moments where I wanted to laugh - it was overwhelming. Anyone who enjoys historical fiction or romance will enjoy this book.

Ellen, the main character, was a bit of a Mary Sue, but not intolerably. I liked Maerk, her love interest, more because he was flawed. This kind of reminds me of The Sound of Music, set in a similar time period with some similar aspects. Very Enjoyable.
Jun 10, 2008 Sarah rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Liz B
This is firmly between two and four stars. The first half is frothy, four-star fun, in spite of the impending menace of the Nazis--it's about music and children and the beauty of a simple life.

The second half is mehhhhhhhhhhhh at best. Not because of the horrors of war, but because of the stupidity of the character(s). And Ibbotson makes some weird decisions about what happens on the page. She simply skips over key scenes. The result was that I didn't really care that Marek and Ellen finally go
Becky Nelson
Sep 29, 2012 Becky Nelson rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book was pretty good, I just didn't like some of the decisions the characters made. Love the historical that went along with the plot - before WWII.
Melissa T
I love the time period and setting this historical fiction is based on, and that helped my assessment of this book be favorable. It was interesting, the children were endearing and lovable, and I appreciated how one selfless person can become the sun that everyone else rotates around. But...the love story was both boring and unexpected, a combination I wouldn't have thought possible. And the male lead was agonizingly selfish and more than a little chauvinistic, pounding the last nail in the coff ...more
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Eva Ibbotson (born Maria Charlotte Michelle Wiesner) was a British novelist specializing in romance and children's fantasy.

Eva Ibbotson was born in Vienna, Austria, in 1925. When Hitler came into power, Ibbotson's family moved to England. She attended Bedford College, graduating in 1945; Cambridge University from 1946-47; and the University of Durham, from which she graduated with a diploma in edu
More about Eva Ibbotson...

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“Not a frog, I hope?” he asked…She shook her head. “No. And if it was I wouldn’t kiss it, I promise you. I might kiss a prince if I could be sure he’d turn into a frog, but not the other way around.” 36 likes
“What are you afraid of then?
Not Being able to see, I think not seeing because your obsessed by something that blots out the world.”
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