I have already read one book by Eva Ibbotson, that being, A Song for Summer. It was a little while ago and I can’t really remember the particulars of it, but I do remember that I liked the book. So, it was for this reason that I bought A Countess Below Stairs. (Although I thought it was A Countess Below Stars, when I got it. I’m a good reader, obviously. 😉 )
Now, straight to the point. I didn’t like it much and I probably wouldn’t recommend it. The plot is incredibly cliché (humbled aristocrat works as a maid for a terribly dashing young valid, who has a terribly nasty fiancée, maid and man fall in love, bitchy fiancée storms off stage). And, the very typical plot could have been saved by dynamic characters, but unfortunately the characters in A Countess Below Stairs are pretty flat. For example…
- Anna, the Russian countess who works as a maid for the Earl of Westerholme, is impossibly good. She has absolutely no flaws, except maybe being too humble. Seriously, would a countess really be expected to lunge herself enthusiastically at hard and dirty housework?
- Muriel, the Earl’s fiancée, on the other hand, is impossibly evil. There is no instance of kindness, compassion, or even understanding on her part. She’s truly despicable, which is great for a villianess, but she’s still human.
- Rupert, the earl, doesn’t stand as a character. How could he have been fooled for an instant by Muriel? How did he fall in love with Anna? I don’t feel like these questions are ever really answered. And, he’s very quick to be swayed (first into believing Anna was engaged to Sergei, then that she wasn’t).
Am I being too harsh? I think I’ll have to read A Song For Summer again so I can put Eva Ibbotson back in my good books.