In a fragile world on the brink of World War II, a young Englishwoman takes a job as a housemother at an unconventional boarding school in Vienna. Soon everyone at the Hallendorf School relies on her for nurturing. What happens when the menace of Hitler's power reaches this idyllic world makes for a powerfully moving tale. Eighteen-year-old ellen never expected the Hallendorf school to be, well, quite so unusual. After all, her life back in england with her suffragette mother and liberated aunts certainly couldnt be called normal. but buried deep in the beautiful Austrian countryside, ellen discovers an eccentric world occupied by wild children and even wilder teachers, experimental dancers and a tortoise on wheels. And then there is the particurally intriguing, enigmatic, and very handsome Marek, part-time gardener and fencing teacher. ellen is instantly attracted to the mysterious gardener, but Hitlers reich is already threatening their peaceful world. only when she discovers Mareks true identity and his dangerous mission does ellen realize the depth of her feelings for himand the danger their newfound love faces in the shadow of war.