The Secret Countess

The Secret Countess

by Eva Ibbotson

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Overview

Eva Ibbotson's charming and warm-hearted tale, A Secret Countess was originally published as A Countess Below Stairs.

Anna, a young countess, has lived in the glittering city of St Petersburg all her life in an ice-blue palace overlooking the River Neva. But when revolution tears Russia apart, her now-penniless family is forced to flee to England. Armed with an out-of-date book on housekeeping, Anna determines to become a housemaid and she finds work at the Earl of Westerholme's crumbling but magnificent mansion. The staff and the family are sure there is something not quite right about their new maid – but she soon wins them over with her warmth and dedication.

Then the young Earl returns home from the war – and Anna falls hopelessly in love. But they can never be together: Rupert is engaged to the snobbish and awful Muriel – and anyway, Anna is only a servant. Or so everybody thinks . . .

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780230226036
Publisher: Pan Macmillan
Publication date: 09/04/2008
Sold by: Barnes & Noble
Format: NOOK Book
Sales rank: 325,183
File size: 537 KB
Age Range: 12 Years

About the Author

Eva Ibbotson was born in Vienna in 1925 and moved to England with her father when the Nazis came to power. Ibbotson wrote more than twenty books for children and young adults, many of which garnered nominations for major awards for children's literature in the UK, including the Nestlé Smarties Book Prize and the Whitbread Prize. Eva's critically acclaimed Journey to the River Sea won the Smarties Gold Medal in 2001. Set in the Amazon, it was written in honour of her deceased husband Alan, a former naturalist. Imaginative and humorous, Eva's books often convey her love of nature, in particular the Austrian countryside, which is evident in works such as The Star of Kazan and A Song for Summer. Eva passed away at her home in Newcastle on 20 October 2010. Her final book, One Boy and His Dog, was published in May 2011.
Eva Ibbotson was born in Vienna in 1925 and moved to England with her father when the Nazis came into power. Ibbotson wrote more than twenty books for children and young adults, many of which garnered nominations for major awards for children's literature in the UK, including the Nestlé Smarties Book Prize and the Whitbread Prize. Eva's critically acclaimed Journey to the River Sea won the Smarties Gold Medal in 2001. Set in the Amazon, it was written in honour of her deceased husband Alan, a former naturalist. Imaginative and humorous, Eva's books often convey her love of nature, in particular the Austrian countryside, which is evident in works such as The Star Of Kazan and A Song For Summer. Eva passed away at her home in Newcastle on October 20th 2010. Her final book, One Dog and His Boy, was published in May 2011.

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The Secret Countess 4.6 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 8 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This author has a way of writing stories that are drenched in light. Such inner beauty is expressed.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
DeltaQueen50 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
This delightful YA read totally captivated me. It¿s a very light, romantic story, but one with a lot of heart. Peopled with fairy tale characters such as the penniless countess forced to work as a maid to support herself and her family, the handsome, slightly brooding Earl who always tries to do the right thing, and my personal favorite, the icily beautiful yet wicked woman who stands between them. These along with many more fabulous characters help to propel this book along to it¿s inevitable conclusion.If you are in the mood for sheer escapism, a light, frothy read to curl up with, this could the book for you. Eva Ibbotson really knows how to deliver a sweet romantic story with humor and heart.
yabookscentral.com on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Beautiful writing. I would've wished for a bit more character development as the reader doesn't really get a glimpse into the character's head, motivating factors and what really makes her keep her profession secret from her brother. Other than that, the description is beautifully done. I recommend this book to anyone who enjoyed the likes of I Capture the Castle.
LyzzyBee on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Acquired via BookCrossing Nov 2010 - from donation bag from a friendI'd previously read and loved Ibbotson's children's book "Journey to the River Sea" so was excited to find a pile of her books for slightly older teens in a donation bag via a friend's mum. I don't think they are a series, but I put them in date order just in case.This is the absorbing story of Anna, exiled from Russia and having to turn her hand to domestic service in order to survive. With the classic Big House setting and possible romance with the son of the house, this is a much better version of what Kate thingy who wrote House at Riverton tries to do. Even though there were some outstandingly bad copy-editing errors, and even though you could tell what was going to happen in the end, this was a riveting and absorbing read that I couldn't put down.
dotholden on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
The Secret Countess by Eva Ibbotson was initially published as A Countess Below Stairs, which after reading it I think would be a better title. Eva Ibbotson was born in Vienna, Austria in 1925 but when the Nazis came to power, her family escaped to Britain. Many of her books allude to the struggles and loss experienced by people during the war and obviously she had first-hand experience of this.The Secret Countess is the story of Anna Grazinsky, a Russian Countess who has to flee to Britain after World War I. Anna has come from a life of wealth and privilege, she was doted on by her father and had everything that she could ever have wished for. Her father is killed fighting and she and her mother make their way to Britain with Miss Pinfold, her governess. Anna's family has lost everything and she is too proud to live off the charity of Miss Pinfold and so she seeks a position as a housemaid at Mersham; family seat of the Westerholmes. Here she tries to fit in and works hard but it is clear to all that she has come from greater things. Ibbotson describes Merhsam in a very detailed way and the house is very much part of the story. Anna soon meets Rupert, the new Earl and he is totally mesmerised by her. However, Rupert has agreed to marry Muriel Hardwicke, an orphaned heiress who will provide the finances to secure Mersham's future. Hardwicke is the opposite of Anna; she is a snob and totally obsessed with Eugenics and the staff and Westeholme family members do not take kindly to her ways.Rupert eventually finds out Anna's true identity and he is already in love with her, the situation seems hopeless with his impending nuptials fast approaching. However, the others surrounding Anna and Rupert devise a plan to save the future of both of them and also the house. The story is very reminiscent of Jane Eye except that Rupert has a much more affable character than Mr Rochester! I am so pleased that I have discovered Eva Ibbotson, her books have this fantastic romantic, fairytale quality to them but still have a lot of substance.
xicanti on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
When her family loses their fortune in the Russian revolution, a young countess takes a job as a housemaid on an English country estate.Ibbotson is a remarkable writer. She imbues this story with all the qualities of a fairy tale without ever sacrificing its believability. Her beautiful storytelling drew me in right from the first page and held me tight. The language is just gorgeous; it twists and turns in a way that I found reminiscent of magical realism. With a few key details and some careful phrasing, Ibbotson makes this early 20th century world come to life in such a way that it is both enchanting and realistic. I ate it up.The characterizations are handled with equal care. With no more than a few choice details and some telling scenes, Ibbotson shows us everything we could possibly need to know about each and every one of these characters. We see the little pieces of their lives that truly illuminate them, that make them burst off the page and come to life.And the story itself... wow. Just, wow. I laughed. I wept. I sobbed wretchedly, both in sorrow and for joy. I fell head over heels in love with it, and I will not hesitate to recommend it left, right and centre.This is absolutely the best new book I've read so far this year. Do yourself a favour: go buy a copy.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
As a now 23 year old, I probably shouldn't love this book as much as I do, but I can't help it. I read it for the first time about 10 years ago, and it is still so good. Sometimes absurd, but always pleasurable, this is a good cheap read to fill your time.