There's a really strong Russian-influence in this story. Well, Russia and Eastern Europe. It really does make me want to learn Russian, but I have other classes that clash with this. Perhaps I can take a class next year. But anyway, back to the Russian-influence. A lot of the novels involve a Russian protagonist, or is even set in Russia. If not, it's probably in Eastern Europe, and the last story should be set in England. Quite Europe-ish, if you like that sort of thing (which I do).
And I remember reading this somewhere, but most of her stories revolve around a "great love". That is true. There is always a great love, and sometimes it's tragic, sometimes it's not. You'd think that this would get repetitious, but it doesn't - I loved all the stories. The exception I can think of would be the first story, which is about about the Christmas Angel and growing up. I think that would be my favourite story, because of how much the protagonist learns. And probably because it's not about romance, like the other stories.
It's making me mushy.... But seriously, I'm quite amazed at how this doesn't feel similar to the other YA romances out there nowadays. YA nowadays is very "we're both special (and possible mortal enemies but our forbidden love will triumph". At least, it's like that to me! But somehow, even if the love is forbidden in this collection, it feels nothing like all the YA novels. If you're looking for something different, I highly recommend this.
If you love Eva Ibbotson's other novels, you'll probably love this. And if you like stories with a European influence, you'll also like this. Give it a try!