Eva Ibbotson's magical novel set in that most poignant of all times and places - Vienna before the First World War.
Susanna's dress shop stands in the delightful Madensky Square and is the very hub and heart of life. Susanna sympathizes with her neighbours, watches over Signi, the wretched, orphaned child prodigy, and with her infallible eye for dress, turns an ugly duckling into a beautiful swan.
Of all the colourful characters in Madensky Square, only her dear friend Alice has the slightest inkling that Susanna hides more than one secret. This hidden life, full of passion and anguish, gradually unfolds in a city of romance, music and gossip.
'Sunshine and shadows, laughter and tears . . . the grace and gaiety of a Viennese waltz' Sunday Telegraph
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Eva Ibbotson was born into a literary family in Vienna in 1925 and came to England as a small girl before the war. She took an Honours degree in Physiology at the University of London and went on to do post-graduate research at Cambridge, where she married a fellow scientist.
Ibbotson wrote more than twenty books for children and young adults, many of which garnered nominations for awards for children's literature in the UK, including the Nestlé Smarties Book Prize and the Whitbread Prize. In her fiction for adults, including A Countess Below Stairs, Magic Flutes and A Company of Swans, Ibbotson was determined to prove that romantic novels can be funny, well-written and even a little erudite.
Eva passed away at her home in Newcastle on October 20th 2010. Her final book, One Boy and His Dog, was published in May 2011 and was nominated for the Children's Book of the Year at the 2011 Galaxy National Book Awards.
Set in Imperial Vienna in 1911, this novel by the author of A Company of Swans mingles humor and poignancy. Susanna, a fashionable dress-maker whose salon is in quiet Madensky Square, decides on the first spring day to keep a journalto which the reader is privy. The diary records Susanna's concerns, hopes and memories, her succinct, witty and sometimes scathing opinions of her neighbors, customers and rivals, and her generous charity toward those she loves. Susanna's story is not unusual: eloping with a soldier in her teens, she bore a daughter whom she gave up for adoption, an act that is the tragedy of her life. She is the secret mistress of an aristocratic field marshal who, when Madensky Square and Susanna's salon are threatened by city planners, manages to avert the disaster. When a young Polish piano prodigy languishes in neglect, Susanna manipulates the coup that makes Sigi the sweetheart of Europe. This refreshing novel in which the heroine overcomes hardship, sticks to her ideals and is satisfied with what happiness life brings her is carried off without sticky sentimentality, Machiavellian wickedness or salacious sex scenes.
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Book Description Arrow Books, 1998. Paperback. Book Condition: New. Bookseller Inventory # P110099226014