I found myself not really giving a shit what happened to Anna It s frustrating when an author writes a completely perfect character Anna was an unspoiled, gracious child, and is a captivating, gracious adult Everyone cannot help but be drawn to her beautiful spirit and beautiful face Except for the evil, sure to become a total Nazi fiancee of Anna s love interest The romance kind of irritated me, too I understand it is, at its heart, a romance novel, but how much interaction did she really have with Rupert before they totally fell in love I mean, besides the fact that she s totally flawless and anybody would be an idiot NOT to fall in love with her, right Oh, and, you know, nobility too She can t just be any old trash off the street I m not a totally cynical person, I like romance and happy endings, but this just felt too forced. This is one of my favorite romances with one of my all time favorite authors.No bodice ripping, panting, squirming lady parts, etc, just a sweet, witty, well written and often humorous romance with a great hero and heroine and a cast of secondary characters that add depth to the story.AnnaYou will see, Pinny, it will be all right Already I have found a most beautiful book in your sister s room It is called The Domestic Servant s Compendium by Selina Strickland, and it has two thousand and three pages and in it I shall find out everything Miss Pinfold tried to smile Anna had always been in possession of a most beautiful book a volume of Lermontov from her father s library, a Dickens novel read during the white nights of summer when she should have been asleep.Anna is the daughter of two incredibly wealthy Russians Her father was killed during WWI and she, her mother, little brother, and British Nanny escaped to England She s decided she has to go into service to help support her younger brother who knows nothing about her sacrifice For Downton Abbey fans the look is very similar, but the estate she goes to is in need of refurbishing, and there is an astonishing lack of distance between the upstairs and the downstairs.The estate is being prepared for the heir s return Death taxes made it inevitable that the estate would be sold and what s left of the family and the servants are devastated They are ecstatic to hear that Rupert is engaged to a wealthy heiress so all is saved Unfortunately, Rupert, a truly nice guy can t recall HOW he came to be engaged to the all too beautiful, all too perfect Muriel One minute he s an injured soldier, the next he s an engaged man.Muriel Only Muriel herself, gravitating naturally to the ornate mirrors in the plush Mayfair mansion where she grew up, was not surprised at the flawlessness of the image which greeted her It was as though she knew from the start that she was not like other children She hated to be dirty, could not bear mess or torn clothes and once, when a stray kitten brought in by the cook scratched her hands, she shut herself in the nursery and refused to come out until it was removed She had reached a full breasted and acne less adolescence when her mother, as though she knew she could do no for her lovely daughter, contracted pneumonia and died.As Anna and the rest of the servants get the estate ready, it becomes obvious to everyone that Anna is not as she seems As Rupert tries to resolve his ever increasing gloom over his pending marriage with perfect Muriel, he finds out about Anna.The cast of characters includes Rupert s doting mother who tries likes to commune with spirits, the loyal and long suffering Butler who will do anything to preserve the estate, his foul tempered, pottery throwing mother, the Kosher Jewish family that still can t understand why these snooty British nobles have embraced them so whole heartedly, Baskerville the mastiff, sweet young and lame Ollie daughter of Rupert s closest friend, a bottom pinching old Uncle, Muriel s snooty and desperate bridesmaids, Sergei their handsome chauffeur, and.When she meets Proom the butler, Proom sighed and glanced at Mrs Bassenthwaite, who lightly shook her head For the girl s accent, with its rolling r s and lilting intensity, quite failed to disguise her educated voice, as did the shabby coat and skirt the grace of her movements Inexperienced was bad foreign was worse but a lady This time the agency had gone too far.After NOT getting pinched by Uncle Sebastien Anna, coming down half an hour later, fearful of a reprimand, was greeted by an interested cluster of faces The Russian girl was flushed and she was muttering beneath her breath He grabbed you, then, said Peggy Well, I warned you No, no, he did not touch me, said Anna absently Then the full impact of what she had just said hit her It is because I am not pretty she said tragically And Mrs Park, who had taken less than twenty four hours to forget that Anna was a foreigner and a lady, said, Now don t be foolish, dear Just drink your tea On the downside is Murial and her mentor, a pontificating Eugenics fraud A cruel moment for Ollie, a ball with a true Cinderella moment, fraud and deception on the part of Proom, and a little failure to communicate keep the romance moving.Eva Ibbotson s writing is funny, witty and often ironic.I know I m not doing justice to the book How unfair that I can unleash a rant like there is no tomorrow that says exactly what I want it to say, but when it comes to a real gold star book I am stuck It is called both The Secret Countess and Countess Below Stairs.Time for a re read. @KINDLE Ö A Countess Below Stairs ß After The Russian Revolution Turns Her World Topsy Turvy, Anna, A Young Russian Countess, Has No Choice But To Flee To England Penniless, Anna Hides Her Aristocratic Background And Takes A Job As Servant In The Household Of The Esteemed Westerholme Family, Armed Only With An Outdated Housekeeping Manual And Sheer Determination Desperate To Keep Her Past A Secret, Anna Is Nearly Overwhelmed By Her New Duties Not To Mention Her Instant Attraction To Rupert, The Handsome Earl Of Westerholme To Make Matters Worse, Rupert Appears To Be Falling For Her As Well As Their Attraction Grows Stronger, Anna Finds It And Difficult To Keep Her Most Dearly Held Secrets From Unraveling And Then There S The Small Matter Of Rupert S Beautiful And Nasty Fianc E Nothing is depressing then the dreaded Reader Slump that not even your favorite authors can pull you out of That was me, just floating along after reading back to back amazing books, everything just sorta fell flat for me That is by chance I stumbled on A Countess Below Stairs by Eva Ibbotson Taking place in a period I m not very fond of early 1900 s I was a tad leery of taking a chance I m so thankful that I did Ibbotson writes magic in her pages True whimsical, nostalgic magic in each word and description from the riches of palaces to the humble kitchens There was true magic in each page and characters Young Countess Anna has lost alot in her young life, from her beloved father, her home, but she hasn t lost her faith in her family and love Anna is the tree that may bend but doesn t break as she take a job working as a maid in a old home She has her own troubles to work with but it s her gentle strength and huge amount of kindness that keeps her shining like a bright star It s this kindness that helps the new Earl of Westerholme, Rupert as he return from war, suddenly engaged to a hidden shrew Rupert feels are truly conflict as he starts to discover what his fianc e is all about and not being able to be with the Anna Now there is some misunderstandings, and unneeded IMO tension but this time it didn t bother me one bit What did bother me was the thinking of some people at the time that turned my stomach Was it historical accurate Yes, sadly But how can we not learn if not from the past and the wrongs done by and to others History isn t there for us to become bored with in the classroom or take bits and pieces from, but to show us the bad so we can change it for good Ibbostson wonderful storytelling broke this reader s slump and yet brought a touch of magic that I won t soon forget. Reviewed by Amber Gibson for TeensReadToo.comAnna Grazinsky is a member of the Russian aristocracy, or White Russians, during the Russian Revolution Her family is forced to flee from their comfortable life in Russia to England, where they are safe from the revolutionaries But in England, the Grazinskys are left with nothing Anna has a very resilient spirit, and instead of moping around and wishing for her old life, she is grateful for the safety of her family and secretly takes a job as a maid so that her little brother can still attend school With her take charge attitude, Anna proves that not all rich girls are snobby brats, like modern heiresses lead us to believe While many of the servants at the Westerholme residence are skeptical of the new foreign girl, Anna quickly charms her way into their hearts With her deep curtsies, bright smile, and cheerful demeanor, Anna is beloved by all She does each task assigned to her as best she can, never slacking on the job When the young and handsome Earl of Westerholme returns home from World War I, Anna is immediately drawn to him And it seems that he feels a similar attraction to her But Anna s identity as a countess is still a secret, and she does not have the social standing that she once held in Russia Plus, the Earl is already engaged to the beautiful but vicious Muriel Hardwicke Muriel nursed Earl Rupert back to health when he was wounded in the war, and he proposed to her But that was before he met Anna In the weeks leading up to the wedding, Muriel begins to take over the Westerholme household, arbitrarily firing servants that do not fit in with her vision for Westerholme None of the servants or neighbors are fond of Muriel, and as the wedding date approaches, all of Rupert s friends and family are leery of the impending marriage At the costume ball thrown prior to the wedding, Anna s true identity as a countess is revealed, and Anna and Rupert dance the night away Everyone can see that they are a perfect couple, but can Rupert and Anna come to terms with their feelings for each other before his marriage to Muriel Although A COUNTESS BELOW STAIRS has a very fairytale like romantic plot, Anna is far from the typical princess She has a feisty spirit and genuinely fun personality that immediately draws you in Eva Ibbotson does a great job in breathing life into the generic fairytale plot Anna s story is very similar to what much of the Russian aristocracy experienced during the communist revolution, and Ibbotson shows that even though life is unpredictable and rarely kind, if you embrace all opportunities and make the most of your situation, you will find happiness. Well, I must say this I should thank Rane for recommending and giving this book such a nice review If not for her, this book would still be in my to read list.To be totally honest, I prefer books written in a conversational type examples are Julia Quinn, Sidney Sheldon and Thea Harrison books These books uses words that are easy to understand and can be used in everyday life.On the other hand, this is the type of book where I have to pay attention every freaking word because the wordings are kinda deep and hard Example of books like this are Lord of the Rings, The Fault in our stars and The Prince of Thorns which are AMAZING books But despite the difficulty, this book still rocked me.The first thing that caught my attention was the cover of the book I know I know One shouldn t judge a book by its cover but old habits die hard My judgement didn t disappoint me The book was spectacular and I was hooked from the very beginning until the end I love Anna s kindness and purity and you can t hate the heck out of her just because she s nice Rupert.Rupert.Rupert Enough said.It should also be noted that I m curious as to what happened to the other characters Like Sergei or Petya I want my own Sergei And Petya is an interesting character.So if you want to read something light and refreshing, do READ this book.Two thumbs up for Miss Eva Ibbotson for a wonderful book Speaking of which.. I enjoyed this familiar romance tropes, but intelligently applied, and with a keen sense of time and place and detail from an angle less and less known, I suspect, to many younger 21st C American readers The tale does not feel to me to be about events of a whole century ago, but I realize somewhat bemusedly that they now are The social setting, actually utterly alien to me in real life, is, as they say, still strangely familiar from dozens of beloved books, both from the period or attempting to recapture it.The actual plot was fairly frothy, yet the underlying background was anything but Horrible things may have happened to the protagonists in their recent pasts, but they are not made horrible by them The antagonist characters, who are quite horrible, bring it with them in their own hearts and minds The ending was too well set up to be called deus ex machina, but the way the cross connecting cosmic justice needs of the assorted characters played out was entirely satisfying The page turning question in romance is not what will happen we know that, or else the tale would have to be described by some other term , but how and the how made me grin.Granted, the central couple do not solve their own problems, but are rescued by others, and the discursive omniscient style is a little emotionally distancing This is not a defect so much as an aspect By way of trade off, the reader gets a wider angle of view Ta, L.
Okay This book was kind of a dissapointment to me I felt really disconeccted from the story and like it was to narrarative Like the author was telling the story herself, not through her charecters I felt like I was getting a lot of uneccissery information about every body And nothing was really developing in you mind as you read it, but it was all piled on you all at the same time Like every time some one new came into the story, everything stopped while the author gave a biography on this person s life.I was warned that it would be a little boring in the begining but that it would get better So I kept on reading It really was starting to feel like it wasn t going to turn up But then, really close to the end, for litterally a split fraction of the book, things seemed to be getting better Then, it got really corny and melodramatic I think it is all personal I know some people who really like this book and some who don t The best way is to decide for your self I love Eva Ibbotson, and I nearly always think her characters are delightful and her stories lovely That was true for this book as well I frequently recommend her books to my enthusiastic readers and to parents reading aloud with their elementary aged children She s my favorite of all the authors I ve discovered in the last few years But I couldn t help my stomach churning at the unnecessarily nasty descriptions of the unpleasant family, the Herrings these descriptions depended almost completely on their fatness as a symbol of their stupidity, squalor, and generally disgusting natures I mean, jeez, Ms Ibbotson Here s an example from the first time we meet them Melvyn sighed and looked at his obese and pallid offspring, sitting on either side of the sticky kitchen table reading comics Donald was methodically sucking a long black stick of licorice into his mouth Dennis was licking at a dribbling bar of toffee Like certain caterpillars whose short lives are dedicated to simply achieving the maximum possible increase in size, the twins seem to have done nothing but eat and burst out of their clothes since they were born Watching them, Melvyn had to abandon another of his half formed schemes that of smuggling them to Mersham in a cello case in the guard s van Even a doublebass case would not take mor than half of either of his sons That s fully a quarter of their first entrance in the book, as they re minor characters The next time they intrude on the book, for two pages many chapters later, we get Melvyn rose and opened the door of the adjoining room Owing to an unfortunate spot of bother with the sheriffs, the twins were sleeping in a mattress on the floor Dennis was lying on his back his full lipped mouth hung open and, as he breathed, the mucus in his nose bubbled softly like soup Beside him lay Donald, apparently overcome by sleep in the act of eating a dripping sandwich, the dismembered remains of which lay smeared across his face Melvyn stood looking down at the swollen cheeks, the pendulous chins and bulging arms of his offspring and his fatherhood, never a sturdy plant, withered and died Meat, he said wearily to himself That s all they are Just blobs of meat And in fact, that s what the author has made them to be, for these are the only descriptions of their characters that we get They re thoroughly, effectively, dehumanized and they re children We haven t seen them doing anything cruel, even anything stupid, and yet we know that these twins are both revolting and to blame for their miserable state Their fatness isn t just a trait it s a moral failing, a character flaw, and symbolic of their general nastiness and lack of worth compared to other children in the book I thought these descriptions were simply hateful and cruel I mean, my goodness, how many fat readers of all ages do you know I m one, and so are some of my diverse group of dedicated readers at my school How much do they deserve to come across this on top of all the other body hating junk that gets thrown at them, from school pinch tests to Seventeen magazine And how valuable is it for other kids to hear one throwaway remark that fat kids are lazy, smelly, and eat all the time In other generations, my students might have had to read the above sort of paragraph with savage characters of color whose race stood in for character flaws The difference is that those casually racist descriptions are now generally recognized, if not debated and discussed, by teachers, librarians, and readers Does that mean that we keep copies of those books out of kids hands Of course not But we do give kids the tools to look critically at those descriptions and recognize them as dated and ignorant, and the culture has changed to the extent that they can spot them independently Unfortunately, the fat hating powers of our cultures are still going strong on the widely held belief that fat is unpleasant at best and a moral flaw at worst and I haven t found many texts that counteract this kind of ignorance I just wish an author I respect hadn t perpetuated it so unnecessarily.