A Countess Below Stairs

 
5.0
 
3.8 (10)
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A Countess Below Stairs
Author(s)
Publisher
Genre(s)
Age Range
12+
Release Date
May 10, 1981
ISBN
0142408654
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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background and takes a job as servant in the household of the esteemed Westerholme family, armed only with an outdated housekeeping manual and sheer determination.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..

Editor reviews

1 reviews

A charming romance
Overall rating 
 
5.0
Plot 
 
5.0
Characters 
 
0.0
Writing Style 
 
0.0
This is an old-fashioned romance novel the kind where the heroine is almost too good to be true, the hero very handsome, and the setting caters to our dreams of how the other half lived, back when everything was more grand. It is also an age-appropriate romance (though adults will also enjoy it), with no mentions of anything illicit and absolutely no heaving this or sweating that.

In fact, this book would have been reviewed sooner in the day if I could have kept myself from picking it up again and again to re-read just a little bit. Its just such a refreshingly nice romance.

Anna is a young deposed Russian countess who has fled to England with what remains of her family after the revolution. Their family fortune disappeared along with her old wet nurse and Anna takes a job as a household maid in the Westerholme family. Youd think she might be a little bitter about how things have turned out, but Anna is an absolute paragon of virtue. She is determined to make things work and even regularly consults her handy (and huge) but outdated housekeeping manual.

She soon meets Rupert, the new Earl, recently back from the war. Like everyone else in the house, he is soon smitten by Anna. However, hes also engaged to Muriel Hardwicke, the woman who had nursed him back to health after an injury in the war.

Muriel soon makes herself known to all the residents of Westerholme&and not at all in a good way. But how can Rupert back out of their marriage? He gave his word, and, perhaps even more importantly, it is Muriels money that is sustaining the estate. What can be done?

I am, of course, leaving out all of the various other entanglements present in the novel (the Honourable Olive, the butler Proom, Tom and Susie, Annas beautiful cousin Sergei&). You see, theres a lot to like in this novel. You will read it and it will make you feel good. Though there are hardships and despair, in the end everything works out just how you would like it to.

Recommended for readers aged 12 and up and anyone who needs a shot of romance in their life.
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User reviews

10 reviews

 
(3)
 
(4)
 
(2)
2 stars
 
(0)
 
(1)
Overall rating 
 
3.8
Plot 
 
3.8  (10)
Characters 
 
3.5  (2)
Writing Style 
 
4.0  (2)
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A Countess Below Stairs
Overall rating 
 
3.0
Plot 
 
3.0
Characters 
 
3.0
Writing Style 
 
3.0
It was okay. I think I would have enjoyed it more if I had known just a bit more about the time period it took place in especially a bit more about the Russian Revolution. But, it was a good story for the most part.

Theme: People from other cultures are really very much like us.
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A Sweet Romance
Overall rating 
 
4.7
Plot 
 
5.0
Characters 
 
4.0
Writing Style 
 
5.0
This story reminded me of the very best in historical romance: sweeping setting, glamour, intrigue, secrets, and an improbable but lovely romance. I was captivated and interested, despite the fact that every character was a bit too perfect for my taste. This is a thoroughly sweet romance, with a lovely setting, and a fun plot.
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An Intelligent Book
Overall rating 
 
5.0
Plot 
 
5.0
Characters 
 
0.0
Writing Style 
 
0.0
Reader reviewed by Mairi

When the Russian Revolution forces her out of her native land, Anna Grazinsky flees to England with a family friend, Miss Pinfold. They live in London, but jobs are hard to come by in the city, and Anna decides to leave (against the wishes of Miss Pinfold). She has found work in a house called Mersham and, though Miss Pinfold assures her that a lady such as herself could never be happy below stairs, she goes- and she is happy.

More than one person has pointed out that Eva Ibbotson's characters are not very believable. They have a point, as Anna, like all of Ibbotson's other heroines, is a wholesome girl with no real faults, but I love her anyway. She reflects the spirit of the book, being earnest, hardworking, and always joyful.

A Countess Below Stairs is a comfort read, I won't deny it, but unlike others of its type it never assumes that the reader is stupid.
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A Countess Below Stairs
Overall rating 
 
4.0
Plot 
 
4.0
Characters 
 
0.0
Writing Style 
 
0.0
Reader reviewed by Sage

A Countess Below Stairs is about a Russian Aristocrat, Anna, that becomes a maid for the esteemed Westerholme family. Anna is overwhelmed with her new duties and struggles to hide her aristocratic background. She eventually falls for the Earl of Westerholme, Rupert. To make things worse he seems to be falling for her. Then there problem is that he is engaged to a not so plesant fiancee. This book is a story of love in all the wrong places. It was a great book that opens the reader to the world of English and Russian culture.  
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A Cute Love Story
Overall rating 
 
3.0
Plot 
 
3.0
Characters 
 
0.0
Writing Style 
 
0.0
Reader reviewed by Insert Book Title

Countess is a interesting book...but if you HATE predictable fairy tale love stories, this is not for you. The heroine is TOO good; the evil guys TOO evil; the staff members personalities too clique. And of course she gets the man in the end. This book lacks originality but is very cute and comfortable. Anna is a Russian Countess who had to flee for her life during the Russian Revolution. Penniless, Anna works as a maid at an Earl's home. All goes well until the Earl actually shows up...with his nasty fiancee. Muriel believes in the perfect human being and considers herself one. Throwing her beliefs on everyone else, she demands perfection. Meanwhile, the Earl and Anna fall for each other (of course). But the Earl, a gentlemen, can not jilt Muriel at the altar. How will they ever be together? :)
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Trial of Love
Overall rating 
 
4.0
Plot 
 
4.0
Characters 
 
0.0
Writing Style 
 
0.0
Reader reviewed by Stephanie

During the Russian Revolution, Anna, a young Russian countess, and her family escapes to England. Penniless because their maid did not meet them at their apopinted place and time, Anna sets out to look for work to keep her family alive. With her governess taking care of her sickly mother and her brother going to school, she finds work as a maid in the Westerholme estate. At first, those hiring her wre a bit iffy on hiring her due to her lack of a working background. However, she is soon able to win everyone's heart with her sweet and wonderful being. She also finds there, Rupert, the handsome earl of Westerholme. Unfortunately, they both seem to be falling for each other. But before they can be together, Anna has to deal with Rupert's nasty and mean fiance. As the employers of the Westerholme estate and Rupert started to suspect her noble blood, they still loved her and accepted her. As time passed and the wedding day for Rupert and his fiance drew near, everyone started to uncover the fiance's true personality. With the help of everyone, Anna manages to get the fiance to break off the engagement, allowing Anna and Rupert to get married. With her wealth returned when her old maid came back with her family treasures, she and Rupert lives happily ever after. This book was interesting and the way the author worded some of the stuff was very unique. I recommend this book to those who enjoy reading historical fiction.
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Historical Fairy Tale and Feminine Strength
Overall rating 
 
4.0
Plot 
 
4.0
Characters 
 
0.0
Writing Style 
 
0.0
Reader reviewed by Stephanie

Anna and her family are Russian nobles, refugees from the civil war that tears their country apart in the middle of World War I. They go to England, where Anna takes up as a housemaid at Mersham, an elegant estate full of personality. Rupert is the young new Earl of Westerholme and reluctant owner of Mersham, just discharged from the hospital where he recovered from a plane crash, and where he has found his fiancee, a pretty young lady named Muriel Hardwicke. Muriel, an orphan, has money but no connections, and is determined to get them by marrying Rupert, whose family has no physical or mental flaws that she knows of.

As Anna flies about Mersham determinedly carrying out her duties and endearing herself to all of the staff there, Rupert cant help but be attracted to her. And everyone in the house and out is beginning to realize how stuck-up and purist Muriel is. Her demands for physical, mental, and genetic perfection put many of Mershams help in danger of losing their positions, their entire family. Can Annas friends, everyone at Mersham, come up with a plan to save the day?

It has been a long time since I have read a refreshingly straightforward fairy tale. Anna is a resourceful and delightful female protagonist. I couldve wanted more interaction between Anna and Rupert, but is the delightful way that Eva Ibbotson draws up her cast of characters that really make this simple story shine.
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Sweet
Overall rating 
 
4.0
Plot 
 
4.0
Characters 
 
0.0
Writing Style 
 
0.0
Reader reviewed by Megan

After the russian revolution hits, Princess Anna and her family have to flee the country. They go to England to live with an old nanny. However, it is hard for her cousin to support all of them, so Anna takes a job as a housemaid. Her job is to get the house ready for the master to get home, but she didn't count on being instantly attracted to him. But, the master has a beautiful, but mean, fiance. The servants (minus Anna) plot to get rid of the fiance once and for all.
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Don't count on a good read
Overall rating 
 
1.0
Plot 
 
1.0
Characters 
 
0.0
Writing Style 
 
0.0
Reader reviewed by Tiara

This book was one of the most silliest books i have ever read. It sounds good on the back. A former russian countess is forced into employment as a maid and falls for her employer. It reminded me of one of my favorite movies, Maid in Manhattan. But don't be fooled. Anna, the countess, is a flat character who is angelically good at everything. The Lord Rupert is also saint-like in every way. On the otherhand his finance is completely evil. In otherwords, the characters were all boring and their insipidness didnt bring any flavor into the book.
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Anything but the life of a countess
Overall rating 
 
5.0
Plot 
 
5.0
Characters 
 
0.0
Writing Style 
 
0.0
Reader reviewed by conan11893

After the Russian Civil War, the a Russian Countess Family flees to England. There the young countess, Anna decides to take on a job as temporary maid to support her family. She works hard and earns the approval of many people in the household as well as the family. the Master of the house soon comes back...

This captivating story was hard to put down. Anna is a very lovable girl with an unflemished personality, almost too perfect to be true.
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