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A Countess Below Stairs Paperback – May, 1992


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Paperback, May, 1992
Mass Market Paperback
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--This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

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About the Author

Eva Ibbotson was born in Vienna, but when the Nazis came to power her family fled to England and she was sent to boarding school. She became a writer while bringing up her four children, and her bestselling novels have been published around the world. Her books have also won and been shortlisted for many prizes. Eva died peacefully in October 2010 at the age of eighty-five --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.
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Product Details

  • Paperback
  • Publisher: Avon (May 1992)
  • ISBN-10: 9992062266
  • ISBN-13: 978-9992062265
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (88 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #15,232,469 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

This book is well written with a fun story and great characters.
Susan
I don't want to give the plot away so let me just say this is a LOVELY book and I wish I could read it for the first time again!
Evie
So many authors fail when writing a character as good-in-every-way as Anna, but somehow it really works in this book.
Nen

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

55 of 56 people found the following review helpful By Just Passing Through on August 28, 2007
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Born into an aristocratic family in tsarist Russia, Anna Grazinsky was lavished with affection and material wealth. As her father freely admitted, he spoiled her--yet she remained unspoiled. Anna's life of privilege ended with the war and the Bolshevik Revolution that took her beloved father's life and forced Anna to flee with her mother and younger brother to the relative safety of England. Betrayed by the family nurse who absconded with the family jewels the Grazinskys were going to use to support themselves, they were forced instead to share the small living quarters of Anna's devoted English governess.

Determined to do her bit to help with the family's expenses, Anna takes a temporary job as a maid at the country estate of the Earl of Westerholme. The senior staff at Mersham is reluctant to take on the obviously unsuitable foreigner, but they are desperate for the help. The war has left them short-staffed and the new earl himself is soon to return to take up residence after years at the front and a long hospital convalescence. With an overly large and ridiculously outdated housekeeping manual for her reference, Anna is fervent in her new duties, although she is nearly overcome by the sheer physical strain, lack of hygiene, and loneliness. But the tight-knit group quickly takes to the radiant Anna, and she to them.

When the house is readied and the young earl himself arrives, he too is intrigued by the mysterious maid. His initial interest does not distract him from his immediate purpose, however. While he recovered from his war wounds, he was nursed back to health by an angel of mercy. The angel was not only exquisitely beautiful, she was also wealthy enough to save the Westerholme estates from the crippling death taxes that threatened them with financial ruin.
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58 of 64 people found the following review helpful By carol irvin TOP 1000 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on January 7, 2001
Format: Hardcover
Amazon's branch in the UK carries this in paperback and her others as well. Readers also use interlibrary loans to find her novels. I virtually pulled an "all nighter" to finish this novel and that rather says it all. A young Russian countess is forced to work as an English earl's housemaid because of having fled revolutionary torn Russia. The earl is engaged to a beautiful heiress who is another one of Ibbotson's high comic characters. She believes in eugenics, getting rid of unfit people. The people in the earl's village and household use that vice to sink her boat with the earl.

This is a fitting failing for the time period because it is right before Hitler and WWII. Ibbotson always seems to have the other woman as the villainess for the hero's affections. However, she presents them as such high figures of comedy that they are not at all clichés. I also love Ibbotson's use of time periods that few others seem inclined to use. This is right after WWI and the effect of that war on the survivors is part of the story. Ibbotson was a native of Vienna who settled in England herself so she brings all of her eastern European insight into her novels. This resembles a delightful fairy tale but there is no paranormal or fantasy aspect to it.

Visit my blog with link given on my profile page here or use this phonetically given URL (livingasseniors dot blogspot dot com). Friday's entry will always be weekend entertainment recs from my 5 star Amazon reviews in film, tv, books and music. These are very heavy on buried treasures and hidden gems. My blogspot is published on Monday, Wednesday & Friday.
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29 of 32 people found the following review helpful By TeensReadToo on May 24, 2007
Format: Paperback
Anna Grazinsky is a member of the Russian aristocracy, or White Russians, during the Russian Revolution. Her family is forced to flee from their comfortable life in Russia to England, where they are safe from the revolutionaries. But in England, the Grazinskys are left with nothing. Anna has a very resilient spirit, and instead of moping around and wishing for her old life, she is grateful for the safety of her family and secretly takes a job as a maid so that her little brother can still attend school. With her take-charge attitude, Anna proves that not all rich girls are snobby brats, like modern heiresses lead us to believe.

While many of the servants at the Westerholme residence are skeptical of the new foreign girl, Anna quickly charms her way into their hearts. With her deep curtsies, bright smile, and cheerful demeanor, Anna is beloved by all. She does each task assigned to her as best she can, never slacking on the job.

When the young and handsome Earl of Westerholme returns home from World War I, Anna is immediately drawn to him. And it seems that he feels a similar attraction to her. But Anna's identity as a countess is still a secret, and she does not have the social standing that she once held in Russia. Plus, the Earl is already engaged to the beautiful but vicious Muriel Hardwicke. Muriel nursed Earl Rupert back to health when he was wounded in the war, and he proposed to her. But that was before he met Anna.

In the weeks leading up to the wedding, Muriel begins to take over the Westerholme household, arbitrarily firing servants that do not fit in with her vision for Westerholme. None of the servants or neighbors are fond of Muriel, and as the wedding date approaches, all of Rupert's friends and family are leery of the impending marriage.
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