Book: The Star of Kazan
Author: Eva Ibbotson
What it’s about: A baby girl is found abandoned in a church by two Austrian servants, who take her to live with them and their employers – three professors – in Vienna. They name the orphan Annika and, despite planning to only look after her for a short time, they all fall in love with her and bring her up as their own. Annika loves the life she leads but always wonders about the mother who left her – what she’s like and why she left. One day her curiosity seems to be satisfied when a beautiful and rich woman appears to claim her as her long-lost daughter. Annika leaves Vienna, her friends and her ‘family’, to start a new life in Spital, northern Germany, with her mother but it doesn’t turn out to be the dream she’d imagined. Instead, her arrival at the austere family home is just the beginning of a mystery and adventure with Annika in the middle.
Holly’s review: The story has a lot of mystery and is exciting. I like the ways Eva Ibbotson describes things. She makes you feel like you are really there. I loved the sound of Vienna and want to go there now I have read this book. It is almost like a character itself. The other characters are written very well and Eva Ibbotson gives them good personalities.
Sam’s review: While stories using abandoned children are plentiful, Eva Ibbotson still manages to give a fresh perspective on the subject and has turned this into a fantastic story that I found as thrilling and engaging as any novel for adults. Annika is a lovely heroine, full of guts yet still dreamy and vulnerable, so you completely understand just why everyone falls in love with her. Ibbotson not only writes a cracking mystery and adventure, she also deals sensitively with subjects such as homesickness, longing, mourning, bravery, sense of self and love. This is the first book Holly and I have read by her and I’m looking forward to reading more.