Synopses & Reviews
Annika is happy living in the servants' quarters of a house owned by three eccentric professors. She adores Ellie and Sigrid, the cook and housemaid who found her as a baby, abandoned on a church doorstep. In the eleven years since, they have taught her how to bake and clean to perfection. Then one day a glamorous stranger arrives, claiming to be Annika's mother. Annika is no servant, she learns, but an aristocrat whose true home is an ancient castle. But at crumbling Spittal, Annika discovers that all is not as it seems in the lives of her newfound family. . .
"Although there are no ghosts at large, this fairytale-like novel set in Vienna during Franz Joseph's reign features the same unique blend of bigger-than-life adventure, sparkling wit and intricate plotting that characterizes Ibbotson's previous novels (The Secret of Platform 13). Annika, a foundling, has been lovingly raised by two servant women working in the household of three professors in the heart of the city. Annika has enjoyed a happy childhood there, surrounded by friends. Even snooty Loremarie Egghart redeems herself by unwittingly forging a friendship between the heroine and Loremarie's great-aunt, who was once a theater attraction in Paris and whose health is ailing. Still, Annika wonders about her past and dreams of some day meeting the mother who abandoned her as a baby. Then one day a stately German woman named Edeltraut von Tannenberg claims Annika as her long lost daughter and promptly whisks her off to Spittal, a gloomy, rundown estate up north. More at home in the kitchen than in the drafty dining room, Annika finds that the only people she can relate to are the servants, especially free-spirited Zed, a gifted horse handler who plays a key role in uncovering the ulterior motives of Edeltraut and rescuing Annika from a dangerous situation. Readers will never doubt for a moment that Annika will rediscover happiness. But following the twisting path (of carefully planted details) that leads to her complicated rescue proves to be a fun-filled trip full of surprises. Ages 10-up." Publishers Weekly (Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information, Inc.)
“Ibbotson, master of the ‘poor orphan makes good’ tale, offers another eminently satisfying example… [R]eaders will long remember the admirable Annika and cheer her eventual, well-deserved, triumph.”—Kirkus Reviews, starred review
In this award-winning novel, set in pre-World War I Vienna, a young servant girl learns that she is actually an aristocrat whose true home is an ancient castle. There, Annika discovers that all is not as it seems in the lives of her newfound family. Illustrations.
After twelve-year-old Annika, a foundling living in late nineteenth-century Vienna, inherits a trunk of costume jewelry, a woman claiming to be her aristocratic mother arrives and takes her to live in a strangely decrepit mansion in Germany.
About the Author
Eva Ibbotson, born Maria Charlotte Michelle Wiesner (21 January 1925 - 20 October 2010), was an Austrian-born British novelist, known for her children's books. Some of her novels for adults have been successfully reissued for the young adult market in recent years. For the historical novel Journey to the River Sea (Macmillan, 2001), she won the Smarties Prize in category 9-11 years, garnered unusual commendation as runner up for the Guardian Prize, and made the Carnegie, Whitbread, and Blue Peter shortlists. She was a finalist for the 2010 Guardian Prize at the time of her death. Her last book, The Abominables, was one of eight books on the longlist for the same award in 2012.