Saturday, April 9, 2016

New Review: Eva Ibbotson’s A COUNTESS BELOW STAIRS (aka THE SECRET COUNTESS) – Engaging Story of a Noble Russian Lass Making Her Way in Post War England

This was recommended to me by my friend, author Joanna Bourne. Set in the early 20th century, with the feel of a Victorian, it's the story of Anna, raised a young countess in St. Petersburg in an ice-blue palace overlooking the River Neva. When revolution tears Russia apart, her now-penniless family flees to England. Each is willing to work and, for that, one had to admire them.

Anna, ever humble, finds an old book on housekeeping and sets off to become a proper housemaid. She finds work at the Earl of Westerholme's crumbling but magnificent mansion. Rupert, the youngest Westerholme, is a returning war hero, who suddenly finds he is now the earl. He plans to marry well so he can restore his family home. Of course, Anna falls in love with him.

Both the new earl and his staff believe their new maid, who is clearly a lady, is a bit strange but her hard work and sweet attitude win them over.

This is an engaging, often humorous, “G-rated” tale that kept me turning pages. Ibbotson is an Austrian-born British novelist, which may explain the words, references and phrasing I occasionally stumbled over. The story is certainly well written and drew me in. Originally published in 1981, it has been reissued under the title The Secret Countess in some editions. I recommend it.

Buy The Secret Countess ebook on Amazon.

Buy A Countess Below Stairs in paper on Amazon.


  1. This sounds so good and right up by alley. I love that time period and Russian History is one of my favorites, Thank you, Regan.

    1. You are most welcome, Brenda. There's another one I might recommend set in part in Russia. It's Splendor by Brenda Joyce. You can see my review here: