Tag Archives: Eva Ibbotson

A Countess Below Stairs

By Eva Ibbotson
Classification
: YA fiction
Genre: Historical fiction, romance
Age Level: 13+
Subjects: Early 20th century, British household servitude, Russian revolution, eugenics

Reader’s Annotation:  Anna Grazinsky is meant to be a Russian countess but her country’s revolution leaves her family penniless and Anna takes a job as a maid in the household of a British lord in an attempt to rebuild her life.

Summary:  The Grazinskys are renowned among Russian aristocracy for their hospitality as well as their wealth, and their young daughter Anna is expected to take her place in society as a shining star.  Then the tsar is assassinated and the now penniless family flees to England where Anna takes a job as a maid in the household of Rupert Frayne, the Earl of Westerholme.  Rupert’s fiancé, Muriel Hardwicke, brings all manner of distress to the household with her philosophies regarding eugenics.  Though Rupert finds himself drawn to Anna, he is bound by his word and financial destitution to the wealthy Muriel.  In a strange post-revolutionary world where a maid may be a countess, the rich have no class, and the aristocracy has no money, the love of two virtual strangers strains to prevail against the odds. 

Notes:  In this story, all of the characters, principal and minor, are richly drawn, engaging the reader from beginning to end.  This book is a worthy read for fans of historical romance.
Flags: 4

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A Company of Swans

By Eva Ibbotson
Classification: YA fiction
Genre: Historical fiction, romance
Age Level: 13+
Subjects: Ballet, early 20th century, English society, sexism, South American colonies

Reader’s Annotation:  When Harriett Morton runs away from her oppressive father’s household to join a traveling ballet company bound for the Amazon, she falls in love with enigmatic Rom Verney and refuses to return home even after her father tracks her down.

Summary:  Harriet Morton’s father is Merlin Professor of the Classics at Kings College in Cambridge.  Professor Morton is sexist, frugal and narrow-minded, and he envisions for his daughter a life married to a respectable academic.  He has even selected the perfect candidate:  fussy, unimaginative entomologist Edward Finch-Dutton, whose great ambition is to classify as many species of fleas as he can discover.  Harriet has other ideas for her life.  A gifted ballet dancer, she is offered a position in the corps of a traveling company journeying to the Amazon.  Harriet goes against her father’s wishes and after her debut performance meets British exile Rom Verney.  They quickly fall in love, but their dreams for the future are threatened when Harriet’s father and would-be fiancé track her all the way to South America.

Notes:  This historical romance has all the sophistication and story-telling finesse of adult romance writers Jude Devareaux and Judith McNaught without the steamy (and usually cheesy) love scenes.
Flags: 4

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