Current status: Yay for reading challenges.
Poking around looking for recommendations and reading other book blogs is fun anyway, and in the process I found yet another new-to-me author that I love. Not just love, but LOVE. So happy I discovered Eva Ibbotson’s historical romances!
I knew about Ibbotson’s fantastic children’s series (Which Witch? has been a personal favorite for years) and I love her super British dry humor. Her children’s fantasy is like Roald Dahl in inventiveness, Diana Wynne Jones in humor, and unique to her in the sweetness of the stories. I was so excited when I found out she’d written romance!
I started with A Countess Below Stairs and loved it. It’s sweet, full of cool cultural and historical details and her trademark sense of humor. World War I is seamlessly woven into the story and you learn more about it from how if affects the different characters than from any kind of recitation of facts.
What other romance has a curtsy used as a weapon? Her descriptions are different too. She describes things in a way I haven’t read, like “duckling fluff hair” that sounds odd at first and then when I picture it makes perfect sense. She drops in little bits of French or Russian without explanation and trusts you to understand it from context, which is nice. I always love her dialogue and characterizations and this book was no exception.
The downsides: Ibbotson’s books are formulaic. In my case, I don’t care because she tells a story so well, but I know some people object to tropes. They are also incredibly old fashioned. TONS of adverbs, commas like you wouldn’t believe, old fashioned sayings and cultural norms from the 1900s that are jarring to us in 2017. For me it’s a reason to love the books, because I love weird old writing like Hodgson-Burnett or Dickens and enjoy being taken back to a different world in time. Because it’s an old-fashioned book it moves slowly and doesn’t contain a ton of what modern readers would understand as conflict, which some reviewers objected to.
So, working my way towards my 16 books and Countess status. I’ve got another two Ibbotson books headed my way to start reading, and i’m sure I’ll have another author in the mix by the next update.
- It Happened One Autumn-Kleypas
- Devil in Winter-Kleypas
- Devil Takes a Bride-Galen Foley
- A Countess Below Stairs-Ibbotson
Photo courtesy: stocksnap.io by Rachel Walker