There's something about the style in which this book is written that is... comfortingly old-fashioned. I don't just mean that the story is historical fantasy (although it is, set during the run up to, outbreak of, and in the midst of WWII), it's that everything from the characters to the tone of the tale are all very charmingly written. The heroine, Tally, is one of those super-kind, everybody loves her and she loves everybody characters that usually gets on my nerves to the point that I can't finish the book, but somehow, Ibbotson manages to get me to root for her, and to understand why everybody loves her, and to see that she has flaws as well, even if the author never gets around to telling us about them. Instead of being a complete Mary Sue, you get the sense that there's just enough stubbornness, just enough foolhardiness to offset all that perfection, and you're glad that people rally to her side. There's also a boarding school I wouldn't have minded attending, a prince who hates being a prince (mostly), dastardly and bumbling Nazi villians, teachers with secret pasts, and plenty of adventure. Just a note; the book jacket says recommended for 9+, but this book would also make a great read aloud for just about any age group (probably not Kindergarten, unfortunately: too heavy). Some of my favorite memories are of my 5th and 6th grade teachers reading aloud to us after lunch, or during indoor recesses, and this is exactly the kind of book that would work in that type of situation.