History and Romance in Vienna 1937 – 38

  • Book: The English Girl
  • Location: Vienna
  • Author: Margaret Leroy

Review Author: Emma



This book is narrated from the viewpoint of an innocent and naive 17 year old English girl (Stella) who moves to Vienna to study music in 1937. The first half of the book is gently paced as Stella explores the sights of Vienna, discovers the beauty of the city, and finds love.

If the first half of the book is a little slow moving stick with it; as the pace of change in pre-war Vienna speeds up, so does the story, and by the last third of the book I found it impossible to put down.

I have never quite understood how Austria came to be annexed to Germany in WWII; this explains it clearly and simply, and how a city can change from a place of vibrancy to a place of fear in a very short time.

For the visitor to Vienna this is a great book. Many of the places Stella visits are still there – parks, the funfair, art galleries, Schoenbrunn Palace etc. etc. I wish I had listed all the places and coffee houses she visited to look up to see if they exist/existed.

I loved this book. The naivety of Stella could be a little infuriating, but she, of course, did not have the benefit of hindsight that we have. Definitely a book to think back on, and a great way to learn more about the history of this period.

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