Saturday, April 9, 2011

A Countess Below Stairs by Eva Ibbotson

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background and takes a job as servant in the household of the esteemed Westerholme family, armed only with an outdated housekeeping manual and sheer determination.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 more and more difficult to keep her most dearly held secrets from unraveling. And then there’s the small matter of rupert’s beautiful and nasty fiancée. . . .

In this wonderful tale of love, honor, friendship, and trust, Eva Ibbotson has surpassed herself. Anna is a bubbly, kind, sweet example of traditional values like hard work, propriety, and generosity.  As her father so aptly says, "I may spoil her, but is she spoilt?"  Rupert is quiet, handsome, and cares deeply for his mother and the staff at Mersham.  He's loyal, honest, and would never go back on something he'd agreed to do.  Muriel, the fiancee who is more interested in eugenics than possibly anything else, may be perfect on the outside, but she's far from it in all other respects.

Although the story starts a bit slow, once I got into it a little bit I couldn't stop reading.  I fell in love with Rupert almost as quickly as Anna did.  And, like all girls, there's a soft spot in my heart for Sergi as well.  I would highly recommend Countess Below Stairs to just about anyone.

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