Thursday, April 24, 2008

REVIEW: Magic Flutes by Eva Ibbotson

Adventures in Storytelling: Romance

Magic Flutes by Eva Ibbotson
Review by Kim Olson, Lake City Public Library

Magic Flutes is a truly astounding book. As in all of Eva Ibbotson's work, the underlying theme of basic human goodness resonates throughout the novel. The story is intricate and detailed, and although the basic plot is romantic, the quality of the writing lifts this story far above a "romance." The central characters are beautifully drawn, the minor characters fully present, and the setting exquisitely presented. A young woman, the last remaining princess of the highest ranking family from the now-defunct Austrian Empire, faces the reality of life after WWI, when titles are officially abolished, and there is no longer money to support the trappings of royalty. She turns her back on her lineage devotes herself to art, working as a drudge for a minor opera company. She sells her magnificent castle, rife with history, to an English tycoon who wishes to lay it at the feet of the breathtakingly beautiful woman who captured and then broke his heart a decade earlier. Full of enchanting tidbits about life and culture in Vienna and Austria in the
years following WWI, this charming story unfolds with fresh delights on every page.

Appeal factors:
Eva Ibbotson's writing appeals to me primarily because of her gift for portraying what makes really good people good. She does this subtly and gracefully, without a hint of preaching. All
her books, which range from children's fantasy to realistic adult fiction, carry the same theme, with the same wonderful, well-informed prose. She has a gift for character and setting that bring a wonderful immediacy to her stories. Her adult books also tend to be full of tidbits of history and culture that show the breadth and depth of her knowledge of the world, and which add a great deal of appeal and interest to the plots. You don't need to be James-Joyce-literate to
understand her work, but it is still sophisticated enough to offer more to the more discerning reader. I am still searching for another author that appeals to me in this same way.

Connection with other titles:
I recommend everything by Eva Ibbotson:
The Morning Gift
A Company of Swans
A Song for Summer
Madensky Square
Journey to the River Sea
Which Witch
The Secret of Platform 13
The Beasts of Clawstone Castle
The Great Ghost Rescue
Island of the Aunts
The Star of Kazan
The Haunting of Granite Falls


Rhea said...

I agree with reccomending anything by Eva Ibbotson. All her work has been amazing =] I've loved her ever since I first read 'Journey to the River Sea' and 'Which Witch?'

Kate Forsyth said...

I also love Eva Ibbotson! I buy her books as soon as I see them. What I think she does really well is her minor characters - theya re funny, eccentric, poignant and heart-breaking in turn