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Ibbotson, Eva.
New York : Speak, 2007, c1981
ISBN 0142408654

(2 booktalks)

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Booktalk #1

Prior to the war, Anna Grazinsky lived in St. Petersberg, raised in wealth and priviledge as the Countess Grazinsky. But then WWI happens and the Russian Revolution, not only does Anna lose her father, but her family must leave almost everything behind and flee the country to England as the aristocracy falls. Virtually penniless and destitute, Anna finds work as a house maid to the esteemed Westerholme family to help support her mom and pay the bills.  The Westerholme family doesn’t exactly believe that Anna is the common girl that she claims to be, but she works hard and doesn’t complain so they don’t question her, at least until the Earl of Westerholme comes home. Will Anna’s secret be uncovered? Will she be able to support her family through these trying times? Read A Countess Below the Stairs to find out.   (New Hampshire Isinglass Award Nominee, 2008-2009)

Booktalk #2

 A Countess Below stairs is an utterly compelling book that is simple, sophisticated, charming and sweet. Eva Ibbotson gives each of her characters a different personality that pulls a reader in, the characters are easy to relate to and fallow. The main character of this story is Anna Grazinsky.
Anna Grazinsky a beautiful countess born in the fairy-tale like world that is St.Petersburg lives an amazing life. Nothing is too much for Anna, with her solid gold statues and toys made of ruby Anna is supposed to be spoilt, but she isn't . Anna is never jealous of her brother never unhappy with something material because she is content with her perfect family that is until 1917. Russia’s honorable nobility is forced to flee or be killed during the revolution. Anna and her family leave to England, broken hearted at the loss of her father, who called Anna his “little star” finally that “little star flickered and died”. Poor, Anna decides to become a house maid at Mersham, the home of the Earl, returning from war. Anna works harder then the rest of the staff puts up with the conditions. She must keep her identity as a countess a secret for fear of being fired, not that she isn't suspected of being a lady or of any nobility, but certainly not a countess. When the Earl, Rupert Westerholme returns Mershams staff is sure it is only temporary, perhaps to put the financial problems of the estate to rest, to sell.  As is Rupert, till he finds that his problems can be solved at once, he can marry his war nurse, Muriel Hardwicke. A new problem arises as Mersham staff prepares for the wedding Rupert begins to fall for Anna as does she. Muriel, tough looking like “a goddess descending from Valhalla” has an interior that far from matches her exterior. Muriel has a deep obsession for eugenics and “the perfect human”. Anna has more and more trouble hiding her secret while falling for Rupert, and Rupert is having second thoughts on his marriage to-be.
This book is truly an amazing story with many twists and with its fairy tale like feel it pulls you in to a never ending ride of an “improper romance”.  (Halima C., K-12 student)

SUBJECTS:     Countesses -- Fiction.
                        Russia -- History -- Fiction.
                        Man-woman relationship -- Fiction.
                        Historical fiction.

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