Tuesday, July 15, 2014
An improper romance. . .
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background and takes a job as servant in the household of the esteemed Westerholme family, armed only with an outdated housekeeping manual and sheer determination.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 fiance... (Book blurb)
A Countess Below Stairs is a gorgeous narrative that floats easily between characters, nations, and cultures without so much as a stumble. It is the story of a penniless, aristocratic girl with a heart for service and of a man bound by a promise to his elder brother who died in the war that he would try and save the money-draining family estate. It is not a love story. It is a character story, moved along by a hilarious and twisty but beautiful plot. It is not that terribly romantic, but it is funny and endearing and will make you root for the protagonists and wish true bodily harm on the villains.
Eva Ibbotson, to me, is a master storyteller. One of my favorite books of all time is A Company of Swans, and I am fully convinced that no one can write romance quite like Ibbotson. I was expecting a little more of that from A Countess Below Stairs, but it was more plot oriented, feeling a bit Downton Abbey-ish as they fight to save the estate, which is fine. It was a fun book to read. I loved the Russian characters and the history that was within it, and to be quite honest, Ibbotson's prose is so wonderful the story could have been going in complete circles and I would have still enjoyed it.
This is a book for people who appreciate beautiful writing and love a good story.
To order A Countess Below Stairs from Eva Ibbotson from Amazon.com, please click here.