Wednesday, May 13, 2009

The Reluctant Heiress by Eva Ibbotson

“Being an heiress in 1920 Austria with nothing but a broken-down castle to your name and nary a penny in your purse could be frustrating for anyone but the Princess Theresa-Maria of Pfaffenstein. Tessa, however, is thrilled with her situation, as it allows her to concentrate on her love of the arts—and no one in the Viennese opera company need know that their delightful and charming under-wardrobe mistress is really a princess. But when the dashing self-made millionaire Guy Farne arrives at the opera in search of suitable entertainment for his high society guests, Tessa realizes that there may be more to life—and love—than just music. And while the attraction between them is undeniable, Guy’s insufferable snob of a fiancée only solidifies Tessa’s determination to keep her true identity a secret. Yet, after a chance meeting with the handsome Englishman, Tessa’s reserve begins to melt, and she starts to wonder if it’s too late for a fairy-tale ending.”

Doesn’t the beautiful cover and book description make you want to read this book? It sounds like it would be a lovely romance. Unfortunately, the author just didn’t do the story justice and the whole thing just felt contrived. The book jumped around constantly from multiple points of view. This was so distracting and it made it so hard to build a proper relationship between Guy and Tessa. If she had narrowed it down to just them, then it would have been a million times better. A HUGE part of the book focuses on different opera’s, unless you know and love the opera this can be extremely boring to read about. There were so many different references to opera, art and even Freud that it all felt cluttered and totally distracting from the story. It was as if the author was trying to show how cultured she was and flaunt her knowledge instead of telling a story.

I am a bit surprised that I found this in the young adult section at the book store. I can’t imagine teenagers being interested in this story, since it seems it was written especially for people who love the opera and not really the general public. Everything just ended up a bit too nicely, any misunderstandings were cleared up too quickly, and although I started out really liking Guy, I ended up bored with him about halfway through.

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