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Madensky Square

3.80  ·  Rating details ·  740 ratings  ·  99 reviews
Susanna Weber is renowned for producing the most elegant, exquisite couture in Vienna. As all of fashionable society passes through her fitting room, Susanna touches numerous lives as matchmaker, comforter, confidante...and passionate lover.

From the improverished yet proud Countess von Metz, to Nini the volatile Hungarian anarchist; from Sigismund Kraszinsky, the young mu
...more
Paperback, 253 pages
Published June 30th 1998 by Arrow Books (first published 1988)
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Average rating 3.80  · 
Rating details
 ·  740 ratings  ·  99 reviews


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Lauren
Apr 01, 2012 rated it it was ok
Shelves: depression, fashion
The book description and other reviews for this book were misleading. It wasn't at all charming, delightful or romantic. It was deeply depressing actually. Looks matter and nothing else. Women are entirely to blame for a bad marriage and men are virtuous and deceived by ugly wives.
The icing on the cake was the story Susanna shares with her friend Alice about a buck-tooth girl who tricked a poor guy into being saddled with her. They bemoan the fate of the poor men with bad wives.
Right. I think it
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Maureen E
Sep 06, 2011 rated it it was ok
This is not quite in Ibbotson’s usual line, and I didn’t enjoy it nearly as much. Susanne is a clothing designer with a store in Madensky Square. She records life in the square, as well as her thoughts and struggles in a diary. I finished mostly because I was on an Ibbotson kick and wanted to get through it. [Mar.2011]
Sally
I had to make another new shelf for this, because "cosy comfort reads" is so precisely what it is, and without such a shelf it would be left with nothing to describe it save for its place and time.

It could be a romance maybe, but it's not only or entirely that. Of course there's Susanna and Gernot, but that's not the main focus of the story. This isn't a romance novel, just a novel with romance in it.

It's absolutely beautiful... the pace and the language are just divine. I wasn't sure I would li
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Tessa
Jan 28, 2019 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Ibbotson devotees...but really, just reread "The Countess Below Stairs" instead
2.5

I think there's a reason that this Ibbotson book hasn't been reprinted and that's because it's not a very good one.

Issues:
--Is there a single happy marriage in the entire book? I think every single husband in the book is having an affair.
--Most of the main female characters are having affairs with said men. What??? Why is everyone a mistress??
--The multiple challenges are resolved very neatly.

Of course being an Ibbotson book it has amazing writing and secondary characters and cultural ref
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Denise Childs
Apr 01, 2012 rated it it was amazing
To read Eva Ibbotson is to love Eva Ibbotson, but I really think this book captured a glimpse into the author that I hadn't seen before. It showed a depth and just a little hint at something that isn't visible in her other books! She has completely captured me with Madensky Square!
Marguerite Kaye
Aug 14, 2020 rated it liked it
Susanna is a modiste in Vienna in 1911. She lives on Madensky Square with her revolutionary model/seamstress. In her forties (I think) she is beautiful, the mistress of a senior politician/soldier, and the mother of a child she gave away at birth.
This is an odd book. It is beautifully written and Madensky Square itself is one of my favourite characters in the story, so evocatively drawn, I wanted to live there myself. I share Susanna’s love of fabric, or creating, of seeing a creation worn by ju
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Deirdre
Aug 24, 2009 rated it really liked it
A story about Susanna Weber, who is a dressmaker, set in 1911, before the world was consumed by World War I but where sabre rattling was already starting to be heard. Anarchism is seen as an interesting hobby and life is interesting. Susanna has carved herself a life in Madensky Square, knows the people there and where she works and lives.

This is an interesting time in her life a time of love and sorrow; of change and trials but overall a story of a life well lived. It's not quite a romance, it
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Mo
Apr 19, 2018 rated it liked it
Shelves: 0-dl, 2018
2 1/2 stars

I have read and enjoyed several of the author's children's books, and I guess I expected more from this one. I thought the story flitted around way too much, and most of the (frequent) Germanic references meant nothing to me.
Virginia Rounding
Aug 11, 2018 rated it it was amazing
A really enjoyable novel, full of vivid characters, set in a little pocket of Vienna in 1911. Funny & poignant - all the more so because the reader knows this is a world which is very soon to come to an end with the outbreak of WWI. ...more
Sonia Jarmula
Nov 27, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Oh, to live in Eva Ibbotson’s Vienna...
QNPoohBear
This book is rather different from her other adult romances, it's written as a first person journal by Susanna Weber who owns a dress shop in 1911 Vienna. Susanna is older (36) and she's worked hard to build up a successful clientele. She won't take help from anyone, not even the man she loves. Susanna loves her shop and can easily manage the difficult clients as well as her anarchist shop assistant, Nini. She also loves the square and all the people who live around it. Their daily lives and int ...more
Rhode
Nov 25, 2012 rated it it was amazing
This is a book tinged with a certain bittersweet, calm middle European melancholia that I enjoy, but suspect some Americans might not like the flavor of. It is romantic and thoughtful, with a marvelous sense of place and history. And the characters are all so well drawn, people who make you (or at least me) smile in passing. It's an intelligent book, written by a woman who herself came originally from the city it's written about. She knows and clearly deeply loves these places and people, althou ...more
Louise
Mar 20, 2009 rated it really liked it
Shelves: fiction
First time reading this author and I was pleasantly surprised by the story. It was delightful.

From back cover:

"Susanna Weber is renowned for producing the most elegant, exquisite couture in Vienna. As all of fashionable society passes through her fitting room, Susanna touches numerous lives as matchmaker, comforter, confidante...and passionate lover.

From the improverished yet proud Countess von Metz, to Nini the volatile Hungarian anarchist; from Sigismund Kraszinsky, the young musical prodigy,
...more
Lindsay
Oct 14, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2018
This, this is The One. I love Eva Ibbotson with my whole heart, I've yet to read one of her books that wasn't a pure delight, but this one that is sadder and maturer, with the shine worn off a little and it's archly raised eyebrow - this is the one that speaks to me the most. Susanna is what happens when one of the heroines from Ibbotson's romance novels finds out that Happy Ever After doesn't always follow First Love, and as much as I love those shiny happy heroines, Susanna is all the better f ...more
Kate Quinn
May 04, 2009 rated it it was amazing
Eva Ibbotson writes romances, but hers are better than the common. For one thing, her romances are funny. For another, her writing is exquisite. This is the story of a dressmaker in Vienna, a woman who observes life sometimes with poignancy (when she thinks of the daughter she lost) and sometimes with humor (observing her clients, like the woman who always comes in wanting to look like Pocahantes or Isadora Duncan or Karsavina). A lovely read - it might be a romance, but don't let that put you o ...more
Reader
Sep 17, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Read for the 2017 September TBR Challenge: Historical

I listened to audio read by Juanita McMahon, whose voice reminded me a little of Barbara Rosenblat: similar range, with a husky quality that does both male and female voices well, but she doesn't overdo the dramatics as Rosenblat sometimes does. Overall, excellent narration. This story itself is told with Ibbotson's usual old-world charm.
Jennifer
Mar 28, 2008 rated it really liked it
Recommended to Jennifer by: Dear Author
This was a soft, moving historical fiction about a place and time I've never read about. Set in Vienna right before World War I breaks out, the books is excerpts from a diary of a dressmaker. I think the best part about this book is that you really get a feel for the setting and the time period. Vienna, and Madensky Square, really feels alive through the small details in the dressmaker's diary.
Muriel
Mar 02, 2009 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This was a lovely book and rather different than the other two Ibbotson books I've read so far. Her heroines tend to be lovely young paragons of virtue and near perfection, Frau Susanah does not fall into either category. The book has the usual assortment of colorful characters and their stories are told through Susannah's journal along with her own melancholy tale.
Jann
Apr 19, 2010 rated it liked it
This is an adult Ibbotson. Once again I thought the story was charming and engaging. Not quite the romantic fairy tale that the YA novel was. The main character writes of sort of diary of her life over a year. I like her characters and style and look forward to reading more of her books. Also, I like the pre-WWI Austrian setting. It's a place or time I've thought about much.
Andrea
Aug 11, 2010 rated it liked it
I like the way the book was written but I just couldn't like any of the people in the book. All the men cheating on their wives, and their mistresses not caring if they hurt anybody... I despise those types of women so it made it hard for me to get the real beauty of the book
John L
Oct 30, 2019 rated it it was amazing
I wish I could give this book 10 stars! A nostalgic, humorous, deeply emotional tale with lots of characters (I listed about 60), many of them unforgettable and very compelling. I absolutely LOVED this book!
Sadie Slater
Feb 23, 2018 rated it did not like it
My first DNF of 2018 was Eva Ibbotson's Madensky Square, which I think I bought years ago when I was going to Vienna on holiday but never got round to reading. I was in the mood for something fluffy and comforting after the grimness of The Power, and thought I'd give it a go as I'm fairly sure someone recommended Ibbotson when I was asking for comfort read recommendations a while ago.

Unfortunately, while I loved the pre-World-War-1 Viennese setting and liked the variety of characters populating
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Annabel Frazer
I had never come across Eve Ibbotson before and found this a delightful read. Her heroine Susanna is a dressmaker living and working in a little square in Vienna. Her drily witty observations on her friends and the other occupants of the square, with a simple calendar structure, are enough to keep the story moving nicely from page to page.

There are a few darker undercurrents and a sudden stampede into melodrama at the end which felt a little unnecessary. And I found the sexual politics somewhat
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Andrea Wall
Feb 20, 2019 rated it really liked it
This book started off slow -- I found it hard to get invested in the story, and I was worried that this would be a hard book to get through. And then suddenly, about a third of the way through it took a remarkable turn. Suddenly, I couldn't put it down. I was 100% invested in the drama of Madensky Square. This book is labelled as romance, but this is entirely misleading. Although romance does play a role, this book is more about various relationships and how they evolve, how people heal after tr ...more
Gwen
May 27, 2019 rated it really liked it
Not my favourite of Ibbotson's books for older readers, but it certainly felt most mature. There was a forthrightness which does not appear in her other romances which was refreshing but admittedly made it a less engaging read. I am unsure whether to call it a romance is even just, as although the book certainly has romantic themes, much of it is about platonic relationships and the families we form when we are lonely.

I really like it, though. It took me an embarrassingly long time to read consi
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Magdalena
Feb 03, 2020 rated it really liked it
I very much enjoyed this novel. The protagonist is not a wide-eyed ingénue, unlike Ibbotson's other romance novels, and that is, frankly, a relief. The events narrated are dramatic or trivial, but always interesting, and the loving portrayal of Wien is a beautiful backdrop. Altogether, this is my favourite Ibbotson novel, and I will undoubtedly re-read it many times, enjoying it as much as I did the first time.
Shelley Alongi
May 29, 2017 rated it it was amazing
I don't read too many books set prior to WW I. I thought I'd give this one a try. I liked it simply because the setting was different for me. It looks on the surface like a simple romance but the regret and relationship surrounding Susana and her daughter make it a good read.
Virginia
Aug 01, 2017 rated it liked it
Enjoyed the characters.
Wetdryvac Wetdryvac
Apr 03, 2018 rated it it was amazing
An utterly fabulous period piece, and a wonderful kick to the ear for traditional romance detail novels.
Ella Doyle
Apr 22, 2018 rated it really liked it
really, really good
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Eva Ibbotson (born Maria Charlotte Michelle Wiesner) was a British novelist specializing in romance and children's fantasy.

She was born in Vienna, Austria, in 1925. When Hitler came into power, her 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 education in 1965.
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