Book Review - The Star of Kazan by Eva Ibbotson
Annika is an orphan girl who was discovered on the doorstep of three professors' home, by the servants. her life in Vietnam is perfect, but she can't help thinking about her mother...
The star of Kazan by Eva Ibbotson is based around Annika and the journey of finding her true family. Annika has never had a birthday. Instead, she celebrates her Found Day, the day a housemaid and a cook to three eccentric Viennese professors found her and took her home. There, Annika has made a happy life in the servants’ quarters, surrounded with friends, including the elderly woman next door who regales Annika with stories of her performing days and her countless admirers – especially the Russian count who gave her the legendary emerald, the Star of Kazan. And yet, Annika still dreams of finding her true mother. But when a glamorous stranger arrives claiming to be Annika’s mother and whisks her away to a crumbling, spooky castle, Annika discovers that all is not as it seems in her newfound home…
Annika is an orphan girl who was discovered on the doorstep of three professors’ home, by the servants. They take her in and raise her. Annika is content with her small life in Vietnam, with her friends, Pauline and Stefan, and her adopted family with the professors, which she loves very much. But she can’t help wonder about her real mother and where she might be. One day, Loremarie Egghart, a snobby rich girl whom Annika despises, asks her to read to her Great-grandmother. As the two begin to spend more time together, Loremarie’s Great aunt become great friends and tell each other about their lives. Apparently Loremarie’s Great aunt was a stage performer and her name was La Rondine. They become so close, that when she dies, La Rondine leaves Annika her collection of jewels, including the famous Star of Kazan.
As time passes on Annika can’t help but wonder more about her mother and why she abandoned her. So, when a very rich woman named Frau Edeltraut von Tannenberg, come to her house claiming to be her mother, Annika is ecstatic and agrees to go with her immediately. Then, she takes Annika to their estate in Germany and she gets to meet her brother Hermann, her uncle Oswald, and her cousin Gudrun, however, she doesn’t enjoy the experience. The mansion is old and dreary, now that she is upper class, she cannot attend public school. She does, however, meet a gipsy boy called Zed who works on a farm.
Although her friends back home are happy for Annika, they still feel uneasy about the whole coincidence – especially Ellie.
Annika is then made to sign a document for her mother, who then goes to Zurich. Annika was unaware of the fact that she had just signed off the jewels she has received from La Rondine. Her mother then sells the jewels, however, tells Annika that a relative died and that’s how they inherited so much money.
On a walk one day with Zed, she discovers the remnants of La Rondine’s old trunk in a lake and questions her mother about how it got there. Her mother blames Zed for theft, and in fear of being arrested, Zed flees to Vietnam. After arriving, he tells Annika’s foster family about his suspicions.
Meanwhile, Annika is sent to a very strict boarding school. However, the professors, Ellie, and Stevan manage to rescue her and take her back home after hearing that one of its pupils had committed suicide. Annika is once again secure, safe and happy back at home with her family, but the story doesn’t end there!
Frau Edeltraut discovers the incidents at the boarding school and visits Viena to take Annika back. Afterall she has the legal birth certificate. Annika is taken back again, however, everybody can sense something is fishy here. What is the truth behind Annika’s family, is that woman really her mother? And if she isn’t that where is the birth certificate from?
Read the book to find out!
The Star of Kazan is by far one of the most curious books I have ever read! When I started reading it at first, I was extremely confused about what was happening and how the story was going to progress. I had to re-read the first few chapters before I got it. However, as the story slowly progressed, I took up a liking for Ibbotson’s writing style and found myself to be hooked onto every chapter. This book is best to read in parts in my opinion but it is completely up to you.
I love a book, in which the main character needs to realize that their true family doesn’t have to be from the same blood. It’s those who take care of you. The Star of Kazan is a perfect example of that. To be honest it has so many different means of action to the passage. Such as when Annika is returned from the boarding school, the reader would presume that to be the ending of the book. But that extra bit about finding out about the birth certificate. I feel this is what separates this book from hundreds with a similar plotline. However, I won’t tell you much because this is a book you need to read without spoilers.
Altogether this was a great book to read and I would recommend you to try it!
“The world was so beautiful in those days, Annika. The music, the flowers, the scent of pines…”
“It still is,” said Annika. “Honestly, it still is.”
Eva Ibbotson was a big fan of nature and frankly, it reflects beautifully in her writing. I have only read three of her fairly well-known books. And I can tell you with confidence that she is simply brilliant at describing the scenery in a way where you get lost in that world. It’s remarkable really, and that is one of my favourite things about her books; she somehow incorporates the scenery into playing a big role in the book when you read it, but not in the main plot. I find that concept breathtaking and have nothing but the greatest respect for her work.
I would recommend this book for readers from the age of 9 and above; perfect for both primary and secondary school. This book is the following genres: Historical Fiction, Fantasy, Children’s, Fiction, Children’s, Mystery and Adventure.
Overall, I would give the Star of Kazan a five out of five as it was a brilliant reading experience altogether.
About the author
Eva Ibbotson was a British writer for children’s books that specialized in Romance and children’s fantasy. She graduated from university with a diploma in Education in 1965. Her books are mostly said to be imaginative and humorous and most of them contain a magic creature or a magical place, challenging the fact that she disliked the supernatural, and made up such characters to help the readers get over their fears.
Some of the book, such as the Journey to the River Sea, reflect her love for nature. She also loves Austria, which shows in her books such as the Star of Kazan and A Song for Summer. These books are set mainly in the famous Austrian countryside and yet again reflect her love nature and the natural things in life.
If you liked this then similar books include:
- The Dragonfly Pool by Eva Ibbotson
- Journey to the River Sea by Eva Ibbotson
- The Skylarks War by Hilary McKay
- A Murder Most Unladylike by Robin Stevens
- Rooftoppers by Katherine Rundell