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The Secret Countess | [Eva Ibbotson]

The Secret Countess

Rupert, the young Earl of Westerholme, returns home from the war - and Anna, a housemaid, falls hopelessly in love with him. But they can never be together - Rupert is engaged to the snobbish and awful Muriel. And anyway, Anna is only a servant. Or so everybody thinks.
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Publisher's Summary

Anna, a young countess, has lived in the glittering city of St Petersburg all her life. But when revolution tears Russia apart, her family is forced to flee to England.

Armed with an out-of-date book on housekeeping, Anna determines to become a housemaid, and she finds work at the Earl of Westerholme's crumbling but magnificent mansion. The staff and the family are sure there is something not quite right about their new maid - but she soon wins them over with her warmth and dedication.

Then the young Earl returns home from the war - and Anna falls hopelessly in love. But they can never be together - Rupert is engaged to the snobbish and awful Muriel. And anyway, Anna is only a servant. Or so everybody thinks.

©2007 Eva Ibbotson; (P)2007 W F Howes

What Members Say

Average Customer Rating

4.0 (201 )
5 star
 (80)
4 star
 (66)
3 star
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2 star
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1 star
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Overall
4.1 (106 )
5 star
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3 star
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2 star
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1 star
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Story
4.5 (105 )
5 star
 (68)
4 star
 (21)
3 star
 (14)
2 star
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1 star
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Performance
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  •  
    Patricia 11-05-10
    Patricia 11-05-10
    HELPFUL VOTES
    46
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    "Magical and Enchanting"

    Davina Porter is by far my favorite narrator and listening to her narrate the poetically written The Secret Countess is a happy experience. The story itself is enchanting and you'll come to love the main character, Anna, who is a displaced Russian countess working as a housemaid in a country manor and has a true love for life. The slow building love between Anna and Rupert is believable and the descriptions of each character, the countryside, and simple things such as a dessert in the shape of a swan weave a web of magic. I could listen to Ms. Porter read this book several times over and never tire of it.

    5 of 5 people found this review helpful
  •  
    connie Sydney, Nova Scotia, Canada 02-06-12
    connie Sydney, Nova Scotia, Canada 02-06-12

    Narrative makes the world go round.

    HELPFUL VOTES
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    Story
    "paint-by-numbers masterpiece"

    Take Marion Chesney???s Lady Rose, make her an immigrant countess and drop her "downstairs" into a Heyerite plot set post WWI rather than Georgian, Regency or Edwardian England. If this description appeals to you, you can be in for a treat.

    The history detail is thin overall and the plot predictable but (lovable!) --and so well spun that I was waiting in suspense for the predicable to happen. The characters are caricatures but it's all knot together well and remixed to please those who know and enjoy the likes of Heyer, Chesney, and Elizabteh Ashton (at her best). Yeah it???s a Heyer imitation, but not a pale one. This is good clean diversion (if you don???t try to deconstruct the fairytale of the happy social class differences!)

    I immediately searched for more novels by the late author. The other Audible offerings are from her children and YA fiction. The only other full length title that seemed non YA, Company of Swans, is not in the same class as the Secret Countess (both the adult titles would be suitable for YA who enjoy such fairytales).

    This is 3 star stuff elevated to four stars by the divine delivery of Davina Porter and the author's playful humour.

    10 of 11 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Lenee CROSS PLAINS, WI, United States 11-17-10
    Lenee CROSS PLAINS, WI, United States 11-17-10 Member Since 2015
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    "Storytelling!!"

    If you like a simple little story to be entertained, this is a good one. Don't have to think too much about this one, but that's what I like about it. How can you not like Anna?! and Muriel is soooo offensive! The whole eugenics thing brings in such a twist! Davina Porter definiatly makes this book shine! I thought this might be trashy, and i was hoping, but it wasn't and really i didn't mind! This is one of the better examples of storytelling i've come across. If you like davina porter try the outlander series!!

    4 of 4 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Miss Irene Portland OR 05-27-09
    Miss Irene Portland OR 05-27-09 Member Since 2015

    Miss Irene

    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Delightful love story, beautifully narrated"

    From the moment Anna meets the Earl, we know they belong together, but the author maintains the tension of their lives and differences with highly colored, well developed characters and events. I enjoyed this sweet love story very much.

    4 of 4 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Kathryn @theBookDate Paraparaumu, New Zealand 05-19-10
    Kathryn @theBookDate Paraparaumu, New Zealand 05-19-10 Member Since 2007
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    Overall
    "Wonderful listening."

    I bought this because of Davinia Porter. She brings this story which would be 3 stars up to 5 stars. When an author chooses the right narrator they are really being very savvy. It was a sweet story and I liked it. This one I will actually enjoy listening to again.

    3 of 3 people found this review helpful
  •  
    C. Young 12-12-11
    C. Young 12-12-11 Member Since 2009
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    "Fun, lightweight romance"

    I'm trying to work my way through Davina Porter's portfolio - she is far and away my favorite female narrator. This story seems exactly like what it is, a fun, easy, predictable romance. I think if you enjoyed the Disney movie Anastasia then you'll enjoy this book. Even though I 'knew' how the book would end, I stayed awake later than I should have so I could finish it and go to sleep content knowing the characters go their just deserts. The most interesting part to me was villainizing one of the character's interests in eugenics. This was also very lightweight, but an interesting aspect especially considering the story is set right at/after WWI and how eugenics was one of the crux of WWII. More English were supportive of the idea than people now like to remember, but of course our "heroes" reject it utterly.

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Jennifer Louisville, KY, USA 04-28-10
    Jennifer Louisville, KY, USA 04-28-10 Member Since 2009
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Predictable"

    You can forecast how this will end, but it's sweet and I still loved hearing how it unfolds. Love Davina Porter!!!

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Rachel 05-19-15
    Rachel 05-19-15 Member Since 2014
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Heartwarming"

    A sweet, timeless, whimsical romance written in beautiful linguistic detail. The colorful descriptions of Russia and England are brought to life by both writer and narrator. The characters are deep and lovable.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    cristina Somerville, MA, United States 02-16-12
    cristina Somerville, MA, United States 02-16-12 Member Since 2015
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Predictable...in a good way"

    I should be too old for fairy tales, but I absolutely loved this story. Well read and well written, so that you don't mind that you know what's coming. In fact, as in most fairy tales, you would be terribly disappointed if the good guys did not win in the end. Highly recommend (as long as you're not looking for anything realistic or insightful...just for effortless enjoyment.)

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    K. 05-08-15
    K. 05-08-15
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "If you like Downton Abbey...you will love this"
    If you could sum up The Secret Countess in three words, what would they be?

    Charming, romantic and fanciful


    What did you like best about this story?

    This is a period piece that seems more timeless than dated. Some listeners found the plotline about eugenics disturbing, but I thought it was well handled. Overall I thought this book gave a more realistic view of the aftermath of World War I than Downton Abbey did. But at times this is just a frothy farce. It's predictable, but delightful.


    What about Davina Porter’s performance did you like?

    Davina Porter's reading was brilliant. She provided appropriate accents and voices for each of the many characters. Her Russian, Italian and French were awesome.


    If you could take any character from The Secret Countess out to dinner, who would it be and why?

    The Earl, of course!


    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
Sort by:
  • JAJ
    UK
    2/21/09
    Overall
    "Easy Listen"

    This is a light hearted tale, easy to listen to, pick up and put down, enjoyable romance.

    4 of 4 people found this review helpful
  • jayne
    chard, United Kingdom
    7/16/11
    Overall
    "another warm bubble bath!"

    this has to be one of my favourite "Evas" - you obviously have to suspend belief when you dip into one of these stories but as a "time-out" from day to day stresses they cant be beaten. just a good old romantic fairy tale!

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  • Mynnie
    1/24/15
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Very Charming"
    Would you listen to The Secret Countess again? Why?

    Oh definitely. This is perfect cheering up material.
    The romance, with all the supporting characters, is adorable, and I love Anna and Rupert. They're intelligent, educated and just so kind. It's such a relief to read a book about genuinely likeable characters.


    What other book might you compare The Secret Countess to, and why?

    I suppose I might compare the book to a Georgette Heyer. The romance is similar, I suppose, with the supporting characters and the slow movement. However, the setting here is just after the First World War and the Russian Revolution.


    Have you listened to any of Davina Porter’s other performances? How does this one compare?

    This is a first. She's a very good narrator, does the voices perfectly and draws you into the story. I've certainly searched her category to see if there's anything I want to listen to.


    If you made a film of this book, what would be the tag line be?

    I have no idea.


    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Clare
    Ireland
    6/9/14
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "OMG!!!"

    This was one of the best books I have read (or listened too) since Harry Potter. It was the ending of the story that I loved most, it was just ingenious. The one thing that could have been better was the love story, it was a bit flat for my taste. Then again, I am used to Mills and Boon romances so...

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful

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