“A Countess Below Stairs” by Eva Ibbotson
Genre: Young Adult Fiction, Historical Fiction
Summary from Goodreads:
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background and takes a job as servant in the household of the esteemed Westerholme family, armed only with an outdated housekeeping manual and sheer determination.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…
Oh man, there was a large cast of people in this book. It was pretty overwhelming. It didn’t help that there were many side stories about people who aren’t that important to the overall story. I had a really hard time keeping everyone straight and remembering what was going on.
Anna is likeable but she’s one of those heroine who is incredibly and a bit unrealistically perfect. I can understand that she’s willing to take on a menial job in order to provide for her family. Most people would do that but I don’t know many people who would be all smiles and completely perky while working long days on tough jobs. If she grumbled just a bit she would be more realistic and likeable.
I didn’t love the fact the Earl and his fiance were so flat. It’s a fairy tale-ish type story so of course the Earl is going to be charming and be a perfect match for Anna. Of course the finance is going to start off nice but end up as a horrible, mean girl. I just wish there had been more depth to those characters. It would have made the story more interesting.
While I enjoyed the story, it was pretty slow going. The story just drug along for most of the book. Things could definitely moved faster and cut some stuff out in my opinion. Despite that there was definitely some charm to the story. It wasn’t as much as I wanted but it was just enough to keep me reading and smiling through the book.
The bottom line? It was a nice story. If you like historical fiction with a touch of romance, you’d like this!