Ibbotson's writing is entrancing, and this is another un-put-down-able romance for teen girls. Thankfully there are none of the direct 'scenes' that appear in some of her other books for older readers, though a few mature-theme references prevent it being suitable for under 13s. As it is, we'd keep it for 15+.
Part of the reason it's so easy to 'lose your heart' in Ibbotson's stories is that her female characters are superb. How she can make an ordinary looking, hard-working, self-sacrificing and kind-hearted girl look absolutely irresistible! Especially when contrasted with a miserably self-seeking, comically vain, narrow-minded drama queen. Yet somehow both characters retain an air of naturalness that makes them not only believable but actually seem to resemble people you know. Usefulness, generous hard work and small acts of service appear like the most beautiful things you've ever come across.
Even better is that these are precisely the qualities that make the young heroine irresistible for the Rochester-like hero; far from appearing bland or 'too good', her character is full to the brim and overflowing, he is captivated. But of course there are many obstacles in the way, that's what makes the story.
A far cry from the shallow infatuation of Twilight, Ibbotson offers a similarly heart-engulfing romance founded on something truly beautiful.