Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
The grim political problems of Europe before and during World War II set in motion the plot of this upbeat, gently humorous romance, but such grave matters are soon left behind so the author of Madensky Square can spin a predictable but engaging story of love denied, then finally triumphant. As the Nazis march into Vienna, British paleontologist Quinton Somerville decides to save 20-year-old Ruth Berger, daughter of his Jewish-Austrian colleague, by marrying her and whisking her off to England, where the couple plan to obtain a quick annulment. Naturally, complications delay the dissolution of their marriage, so Ruth enrolls in London's Thameside College, where Quin is a highly sought-after professor. Indeed, wealthy, aristocratic Verena Plackett has set her cap for him. Ibbotson's spirited novel features atmospheric locales--Budapest, Vienna and the Somerville estate in Northumbria among them--and a colorful supporting cast of European refugees whose eccentric behavior mystifies their upper-class British sponsors. (Aug.)
KLIATT - Amanda MacGregor
When it becomes clear that the Nazis will invade Vienna, the wealthy Berger family flees to London. Twenty-year-old Ruth Berger is mired in red tape and stuck in Austria with no safe passage out. Through luck and coincidence, Quin Sommerville, a colleague of Ruth's father, stumbles upon Ruth, desperate and alone. After pursuing other options, it becomes clear that the only way out is for Ruth to marry Quin and become a British citizen. The marriage is to be a secret and annulled as soon as possible. Reunited with her family, Ruth tries to reestablish a normal life. She matriculates at the university where Quin teaches and winds up in his course. Their simple planto marry, annul it, and never see one another againgrows unexpectedly complicated. With breathtaking (or, as Ruth would suggest, breathgiving) twists and turns, Ibbotson takes the reader on a passionate journey filled with love, honor, and secrets. Ruth, who has always been a precocious and curious student of life, must learn the hard way that book learning is no match for matters of the heart. Both Ruth and Quin are headstrong, leading to many miscommunications that propel the action forward. The backdrop of the war infuses the story with a sense of despair and urgency, but that isn't the main focus of the plot. Just as Ruth charms everyone she meets in London, her effervescent personality will leap off the page and charm readers, too.
In this novel, Ibbotson ( Magic Flutes , St. Martin's, 1984, and A Glove Shop in Vienna , LJ 1/92, among others) offers an engaging love story set in pre-World War II Europe. Ruth, a vibrant, passionate young woman, is separated from her family when Hitler enters Austria. She marries Quin, a longtime family friend, in order to flee Vienna, intending to have a quick annulment once they reach England. However, neither has counted on the growing attraction to each other. Writing with humor and intelligence about this rocky relationship, Ibbotson creates a cast of charming characters. Readers will find Ruth a delight and applaud her awakening as a woman. This well-written romance will be welcome in popular fiction collections.-- Barbara E. Kemp, Library Consultant, Reston, Va.
Denise Perry Donavin
In the opening days of World War II, paleontologist Quinton Somerville marries a young Austrian Jew, Ruth Berger, to assure her safe passage out of Vienna. Ruth is promised to her childhood sweetheart, concert pianist Heini Radek, and Somerville promises to annul the marriage as soon as they arrive in England. The annulment is not easy to obtain, however, especially when Ruth ends up in Somerville's field class as a student. Ibbotson's portrayal of the Jewish refugee situation in London is poignantly drawn. Most compelling of all is the romantic triangle made up of Ruth, her pianist, and her savior/husband/suitor. Fine work that gracefully emerges from a slow start by the author of "A Glove Shop in Vienna".