Thursday, March 6, 2014

Review: A Countess Below Stairs

Title A Countess Below Stairs
By Eva Ibbostson
Genre YA romance
Pages 383
Recommended by Book Club

First sentence "You cannot be a housemaid, Anna," said Miss Pinfold firmly.

Anna used to be a Russian Countess. She used to have jewels and riches and live in a mansion. Now all that has changed. Forced to flee her country and riches Anna must find work and becoming a housemaid seems her only option but falling in love with the Earl she serves isn't an option, not since he's engaged to be married.

What is has going for it
Anna is instantly likable. Sure the author "tells not shows" us to like her but it's easy to overlook that for the most part. I enjoyed watching her journey from riches to rags and loved the Downton Abbey feel of this book. There's something to be said for books that can make you talk to them. You know, shouting things to the characters, gasping at something when it happens, biting back and "oh no" when something terrible is about to happen. This book was very good at drawing out my emotions and for that I'll give it a thumbs up.

What's lacking 
Honestly, this one isn't without flaws. The telling not showing thing I mentioned irritated me. It's fine in a short fairy tale story to tell a reader how to feel about a character and to describe their attributes but in a novel I expect a little more showing. There was a lot of this "stop the story and tell you the history of a person or place" and it got a little old. Oh, and just because a book is in third person and can jump around to anyone it wants, doesn't mean it should. This one started talking about people that had very little to do with the story and it drove me insane. I wanted to just get back to Anna and Rupert!

Favorite moment
When Anna hears Rupert having a nightmare and wakes him up. I loved how inappropriate that might have been back then but how natural it seemed.

Yea or Nay?
Yes, I'd recommend it but get ready for some lengthy back story.


  1. I know what you meant about wanting to get back to Anna and Rupert. I really like this book, but I like A Company of Swans, another of Ibbotson's, better. :) I'm glad you enjoyed it, though.

  2. I would have never guessed that this was YA based on the cover, but it sounds pretty good. I’m digging the Downton Abbey thing :)

  3. +JMJ+

    Inappropriate moments that seem perfectly natural are so romantic somehow! <3