Sunday, November 20, 2011

Book 36: A Countess Below Stairs by Eva Ibbotson

This is the first of a few books that I picked up for free outside of a grocery store.  It seemed kind of dumb when I picked it up but I thought it could be fun.  Unfortunately it was just dumb.

The protagonist, Anna, is a Russian countess whose family is forced out after the revolution.  Their family jewels were entrusted to her brother’s nanny, but she never met up with them after escaping the country.  Now broke and living in London, Anna decides to take a position as a maid at a country estate.  The butler and head housemaid are reluctant to hire her because they can tell that she is nobility, but her determination wins them over and she proves herself to be a hard worker.  The new lord of the manor, Rupert, fresh from the hospital after a war injury, has returned home with one of the nurses as his fiancée.  This woman, Muriel, is not highborn but has inherited a lot of money that would be the answer to Rupert’s problems.  Predictably though, Rupert and Anna begin to have feelings for each other and they struggle to do the right thing.

Simply put, this book is terrible.  The writer obviously loves her thesaurus but has not learned how to use it properly.  The characters are all one note and so broadly painted that I groaned several times while reading.  Anna is everything beautiful and light in the world and never has a mean thought.  Muriel meanwhile only cares about raising her status and eugenics.  That’s right, eugenics.  There is not a single plot point that you can’t see coming from the beginning.  I thought that this book would be fluffy fun but it was just stupid and tedious.  The only thing that I can say in this book’s defense is that it didn’t take long to read.

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