The Compulsive Reader: A Countess Below Stairs by Eva Ibbotson

Monday, June 2, 2008

A Countess Below Stairs by Eva Ibbotson

Anna, despite her lavish upbringing, has always been a mild and very well mannered child with endless opportunities for the future. But then came the Russian Revolution, and with her father dead and their family betrayed and left penniless, Anna, her mother, and her younger brother flee Russia and head to England to live with Anna's English nanny, Miss Pinfold. But Anna is restless there, and without anything to do, and resolves to get a job as a serving maid, much to Miss Pinfold's horror.

But Anna is not to be dissuaded. She takes a position at the Westerholme estate to help with the preparations for the return of the estate's young earl, Rupert, who is to arrive with his fiancé. It is here that Anna enchants the entire Westerholme estate, from the animals to the butler to the Earl himself. But Anna is determined to keep her previous status a secret, something that is becoming harder to do as the wedding preparations progress and the bride's true colors begin to show.

Subtly humorous, ironic, and utterly captivating, Eva Ibbotson is one of those rare and wonderful authors that can construct a story so well, each reader—as reluctant as they may be—cannot help but find themselves completely charmed and enthralled. A Countess Below Stairs is no exception. Each of the numerous and colorful characters is presented in such a way so that you feel like you know them intimately, making for a more meaningful and enjoyable read. The novel is full of historical facts and tidbits of information, but rather than detract from the reading experience, they add just the right touch of seriousness. Though at first this novel might seem predictable, Ibbotson cleverly fools the reader, giving them an amusing, rewarding, and completely unforgettable ending.
Be sure to check out A Song for Summer, The Morning Gift, and A Company of Swans as well!


Rachael Stein said...

this has been on my wishlist for a while, and it sounds great :D

Angiegirl said...

It's quite delightful, isn't it? I loved Anna's rant at the end.