I re-read School by the River
last night, prompted by discussion in another thread. I was struck all over again by how vivid EBD's descriptions pf Mirania and Valnich are.
The prose is a little purple in places:
Great mountains rear their chilly heads to the sky, and from these mountains, rivers pour down with a mighty music that fills the air... Here and there, mighty castles lift their grey towers and bastions from among the poles and low walls of the vineyards...
But then we get this:
Presently the carriage turned out of this street ... and entered a quiet alley-way, where the warm sun shone on white houses with green and yellow sun-blinds over the windows, and the inevitable tubs of flowering plants on the balconies, and where three cats sunning themselves at various open doors were the only living things to be seen.
It's much better writing than her guide book descriptions of real Swiss places later in the series.
EBD was always good at describing places she knew, but this is an entirely invented location. Did she lift her descriptions from a traveller's account of some Balkan country? Was it based on things she saw on her visit to Austria? Or did she make it all up out of her own head?
She put an enormous amount of work into creating Mirania, its geography, its people, its socio-political structure. I wonder if she hoped School by the River
might be the first in a series?