Yesterday, when I wrote about my love affair with all things written by Susan Elizabeth Phillips, I said she was one of my two favorite authors. The other is Eva Ibbotson.
Eva Ibbotson is best known for her wonderful children's books, including the famous Secret of Platform 13. My elder son (who is now 17) read almost all of them when he was younger. That's why, when I was wandering through the Olney, MD library a decade or so ago, I was intrigued by A Song for Summer by Eva Ibbotson on the Summer Romance Reads display. Really? Huh. Eva Ibbotson writes romance, how interesting.
Not everyone loves EI as much as I do. Even Rachel (I mentioned her yesterday) thought they were okay, but didn't grab her like SEP does. EI is more lyrical and literary than many romance writers, and her books are historical (Rachel's not as great a fan of historicals as I am, so that may contribute to her lack of enthusiasm…). There's no sex in EI's books, which puts off some modern readers, I'm sure, and is also why her books were successfully rereleased as YA historical fiction a few years ago.
But I'm not sure any romance has ever touched me as much as The Morning Gift, A Countess Below Stairs or A Company of Swans. (There are others, but we'll start there.) Just thinking about certain scenes still makes my chest tighten. Most of her romances are set somewhere from the Edwardian period through WWII, which are all fascinating eras for me.
Like Ain't She Sweet for SEP, A Song for Summer sent me on a breathless, urgent quest to read every romance I could find by Eva Ibbotson. In the end, that first book may actually be my least favorite. But (like SEP) even the worst book by Eva Ibbotson tends to be head and shoulders above most other novels out there.
Eva Ibbotson is inspirational to me for a number of other reasons, the first of which is that she published her first book after she turned forty. She led an interesting but not always easy life, being from an Austrian Jewish intellectual family during World War II. (She was born in 1925. Find out more at her Wikipedia page.) And finally, I remember reading somewhere that the reason she'd stopped writing adult romances is that when her husband died, she felt she just didn't have it in her anymore. So a real-life romance, too.
Eva Ibbotson died two years ago. One of the few regrets I have in my life is that I never wrote her to let her know how very much I love her stories and characters.
Thankfully, I've already told SEP. xoxo