15 of 19 people found the following review helpful
far more intelligent and better-written than most,
This review is from: A Countess Below Stairs (Paperback)
Yet another of Eva Ibbotson's enchanting historical romances that go far beyond the average. The story is a classic Cinderella tale - Anna is the daughter of Russian aristocrats, forced to flee to England by the Revolution. Having been one of the richest families in St. Petersburg, they are now to live with their governess. Anna's brother is a charity pupil at boarding school and Anna herself (armed with an out-of-date book on housekeeping) determines to become a housemaid. She gains employment at the Earl of Westerhome's crumbling but gorgeous house,where her deep curtseys terrify the butler and housekeeper and her dedication and lack of airs charms the rest of the staff. Menawhile, Rupert the Earl is about to make a disastrous marriage to Muriel, the socially ambitious woman who nursed him through his war injuries. A voluptuous golden-haired believer in eugenics she plans to use her fortune in not only restoring the house but making it a temple of pure-blood neo-Nazi beliefs. Everyone, including Rupert, realises the match will be a disaster, especially as she upsets all the staff with her cruel demands and insults their Jewish neighbours. Rupert and Anna fall passionately in love. But it is only when their neighbours have a fancy-dress ball at which Anna's young brother is a guest that the kitchen-maid takes her place as a countess....What this probably doesn't convey is the delicious wit and intelligence of Ibbotson's style. She is someone who can not only drop in dozens of musical and literary references without showing-off, but she can really write. Her intricate plots are always beautifully crafted. Every one of her characters is so fresh and alive that he or she jumps off the page, and her belief in the triumph of goodness over malice us infectious. She is pure joy for anyone who relishes Jane Austen, Carol Shields, Georgette Heyer or Alison Lurie. I can't recommend her too highly.
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Initial post: 29 Dec 2008 21:50:32 GMT
Christine Headley says:
I absolutely agree. Why on earth are Eva Ibbotson's romances stuck in the 'Young Adult' section of the children's area rather than between Heyer and Lurie among the adult novels? I've only just discovered her, and I realise I could have been enjoying her books at any time in the past 25 years!
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