My husband selected this book for me at our local library book sale. “I felt you would like it,” he remarked.
Indeed, I do. It is a young adult novel, and is not a complicated plot. A young orphan girl lives in Vienna, raised by two maids. As the story unravels, young Annika lives a contented life. She has friends, is loved and care for by her two adopted aunts, and loves her city and neighborhood.
I have a great love for books with a sense of place, and the descriptions of Vienna in the early 20th century had me deep in romantic nostalgia for a place I have never been.
The markets are full of freshly baked pastries and sweets, strongly brewed coffee, music and small cafes bustling with life. Ibottson’s descriptions of fish markets, butcher shops and the Spanish Riding School all help to draw the reader into the lovely landscape of European life.
Descriptions adside, the book changes pace as Annika’s identity is learned and she is transported to a new, uninviting and cold home. A mystery ensues, as Annika tries to fit into her new life, while pieces together a puzzle involving priceless jewels, an old neighbor from home, and her new mother.
Annika must learn to be loyal to herself and her loved ones, even at a cost to what she thought would bring her the greatest joy and fulfillment.