A Countess Below Stairs (by Eva Ibbotson) c. 1981

A Countess Below Stairs by Eva Ibbotson
c. 1981
[Teen Fiction]

When the Bolsheviks seize control of the Russian government, Anna’s family loses everything—their land, their houses, their jewels, and their title. Penniless, the Grazinskys flee Russia for England, where they make their home with Anna’s former governess. Determined to provide some relief for her struggling family, Anna hides her aristocratic background and gets a job as a maid at Mersham. But Anna’s secrets are not her only problem—there is the small matter of the attractive Earl of Westerholme. The attraction between Anna and the Earl is immediate and particularly problematic in light of the Earl’s recent engagement.

Don’t let the cover or the title fool you—this is not your average overdone romance. A slightly tired concept can be enlivened by a particularly talented writer and Eva Ibbotson does just this in A Countess Below Stairs. With a delightful sense of humor and a ceaseless supply of charm, Ibbotson successfully weaves a story that is engaging and entertaining. The characters are relatable and easy to root for and the villains are deliciously nasty. Fans of historical romance will enjoy this quick and light read.

Did you enjoy A Countess Below Stairs? You might also like Eva Ibbotson’s other historical novels. The Lake Bluff Library owns The Morning Gift and The Reluctant Heiress.

Pros: A fun and light read with vivid characters.

Cons: Can occasionally veer toward cheesiness.

Review by Martha


2 thoughts on “A Countess Below Stairs (by Eva Ibbotson) c. 1981

  1. i loved this book,one of my favorites,but the copy i have is named ”the secret countess”
    they are definitely the same book…is this an american copy?

    • This book has actually been published under two different titles. It was originally published in 1981 as A Countess Below Stairs. In 2007, it was reissued as The Secret Countess. Our copy is currently checked out, but I believe it is from an American publisher. I’m not sure if the title change was unique to the American reissue. It’s a fantastic book under either title, though. Her other teen historical romances are also great.


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