Alyssa Udall's Reviews > A Countess Below Stairs

A Countess Below Stairs by Eva Ibbotson
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's review
Dec 29, 2010

it was amazing
bookshelves: teen-fiction, will-read-again-and-again, wow-loved-it, historical-fiction


Anna Grazinsky is not your typical Countess. Despite the palaces, royal relatives, and the finest jewels in all of Russia, Anna manages to remain unscathed by snobbery, entitlement or general unpleasantness. She is charming, happy, carefree and honest.

Then, when the political situation in Russia becomes unstable and later leads to outright revolution, Anna and her family are forced to free their land, their nation and their social status for England, where Anna takes up a position in the household of the Earl of Westerholme, to much opposition by her mother. Upon arrival at Mersham, it is clear to the head housemaid and butler of the home that Anna is of regal upbringing, yet after much begging and pleading by the Countess, they reluctantly take her on.

Although the staff at Mersham is completely set on hating the new Russian maid, they are victims of Anna's charisma, including her ridiculous reliance on a horribly out-of-date guide to housekeeping and her over-the-top curtsies. It is clear that no one is immune to Anna's charms, not even the Earl himself, despite his imminent marriage to the beautiful but horrible Muriel.

My Thoughts:

I was blown away by A Countess Below Stairs! Eva Ibbotson is clearly a master storyteller, as evident in her ability to make a book with very little action extremely exciting, to make a character like Anna gleam with happiness without becoming cliche, and to make this charming book a lasting fairy tale that I know I will read again and again.

I must reiterate how expertly Ibbotson crafted her characters, in that by the middle of the novel, you felt you knew each one as if they were your most intimate friends or enemies, and you loved the good ones, hated the bad ones, and sympathized with the more complex ones. I was truly amazed at how invested I felt in Anna's story only 30 pages into the book and I will again attribute this to Ibbotson's style and not to the story itself, for although the story is very very good, it would have become something trite and cheesy under a less expert author.

Overall Grade: A+
Would I read it again? Yes... oh my yes!
Would I recommend it to others? Yes!
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Reading Progress

December 29, 2010 – Shelved
January 4, 2011 – Started Reading
January 4, 2011 –
page 164
January 4, 2011 –
page 187
January 4, 2011 –
page 187
48.83% "Pleasantly surprising! Ok, that's an understatement. I LOVE it so far!!"
January 5, 2011 – Shelved as: teen-fiction
January 5, 2011 – Shelved as: will-read-again-and-again
January 5, 2011 – Shelved as: wow-loved-it
January 5, 2011 – Finished Reading
January 16, 2011 – Shelved as: historical-fiction

Comments (showing 1-1 of 1) (1 new)

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Rebecca Pates Eva Ibbotson is such a good writer and you should enjoy this one :)

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