The Reluctant Heiress
Lonks is at book #31! WOWZA!—Sparkitors
Book #31: The Reluctant Heiress (previously published as Magic Flutes)
Author: Eva Ibbotson
Reason for Reading: I read one of Ibbotson’s other books, A Countess Below Stairs, several years ago and absolutely loved it. I also recently figured out that she wrote some of my childhood favorites: The Secret of Platform 13 and Island of the Aunts.
Quote: “Only it isn’t just literally a wild strawberry place,” Tessa went on. “A smultronstalle is any place that’s absolutely private and special and your own. A place where life is ... an epiphany. Like that very quiet room in the Kunsthistorisches Museum where the Vermeers are. Or that marvelous bit where the flute plays that golden music at the beginning of L’Apres-midi d’en faune.”
Copyright Date: 1982
Length: 368 pages
Genre: Teen Historical Fiction Romance
Rating (out of 10 stars): 5 stars
Summary: After World War I, the aristocracy of Austria is in financial ruin, and Princess Theresa-Maria of Pfaffenstein is no exception. After selling the beautiful castle her family had occupied for centuries, Tessa takes a job as a wardrobe mistress for the International Opera Company. When the Company is hired to perform Mozart’s The Magic Flute for the new owner of the Pfaffenstein, Tessa has to try to hide her identity from her co-workers as she falls in love with the wrong man.
Review: The Reluctant Heiress is pure fluff. Everything about the story is padded. The conflict is not nearly as bad as it could be. The heroine is beyond perfect. The love interest is everything anyone could ever ask for in a guy. And the villain is entirely too messed up. But that did not make it a poorly written book. If all I could say about this book was that it was fluffy, then it would be a simple yet enjoyable read. And if you are not familiar with Ibbotson’s work, it may still seem that way to you. But I, having read another of her historical fiction novels, found a major problem with The Reluctant Heiress.
A Countess Below Stairs and The Reluctant Heiress are, essentially, the same book! I could give you about five sentences that tell you the plot of the books perfectly (Which I am not going to do just in case you want to read them). I have no way of knowing if all of Ibbotson’s historical fiction books (I think there are about five or six) are this way, but I plan on reading a few more in order to find out. However, the fact that even two of the books are this way demotes Eva Ibbotson on my list of authors. In my opinion, if any writer has to repeat a plot to publish a new book, she doesn't deserve to be called a writer.
Recommendation: Ibbotson’s books are not bad, but the repetitiveness between two of my favorites really annoyed me. However, if you want to read one, I would definitely suggest A Countess Below Stairs before The Reluctant Heiress. But, before either of those I would suggest Ibbotson’s fantasy books for children, which are so drastically different from her historical fiction novels that I had to look up whether or not they were written by the same person. The Secret of Platform 13 was my favorite book in the fourth grade, and I still find it hard to believe that it was written by the same author as The Reluctant Heiress.
Have you ever read any of Ibbotson's books?
Related post: One Year, 100 Books