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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Armed with an out-of-date book on housekeeping, Anna determines to become a housemaid, and she finds work at the Earl of Westerholme's crumbling but magnificent mansion.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 (167 )
5 star
 (61)
4 star
 (57)
3 star
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2 star
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Overall
4.0 (73 )
5 star
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4 star
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3 star
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1 star
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Story
4.4 (72 )
5 star
 (46)
4 star
 (14)
3 star
 (10)
2 star
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1 star
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Performance
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  •  
    connie Sydney, Nova Scotia, Canada 02-06-12
    connie Sydney, Nova Scotia, Canada 02-06-12 Member Since 2007

    trying to see the world with my ears

    HELPFUL VOTES
    3353
    ratings
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    395
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    "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.

    9 of 9 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Patricia San Diego, CA, United States 11-05-10
    Patricia San Diego, CA, United States 11-05-10
    HELPFUL VOTES
    34
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    Overall
    "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
  •  
    Lenee CROSS PLAINS, WI, United States 11-17-10
    Lenee CROSS PLAINS, WI, United States 11-17-10 Member Since 2009
    HELPFUL VOTES
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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 2005

    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 2004
    HELPFUL VOTES
    69
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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
    HELPFUL VOTES
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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
    5
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    5
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    Overall
    "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
  •  
    cristina Somerville, MA, United States 02-16-12
    cristina Somerville, MA, United States 02-16-12 Member Since 2009
    HELPFUL VOTES
    911
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    Performance
    Story
    "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
  •  
    J Stephens Phoenix, AZ 06-21-14
    J Stephens Phoenix, AZ 06-21-14
    ratings
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    2
    2
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    Performance
    Story
    "Simply delightful"
    What made the experience of listening to The Secret Countess the most enjoyable?

    Great choice of narrator for this novel. I loved the range of voices she used to depict the various characters. Although I have little knowledge of French and no experience with Russian, I was able to understand the context of the words because of the narrator.


    What does Davina Porter bring to the story that you wouldn’t experience if you just read the book?

    The narrator brought life to the characters through her various accents and pronunciation of French and Russian words.


    Who was the most memorable character of The Secret Countess and why?

    The most memorable character would have to be Anna. She was born into a world of wealth and privilege but remained humble.


    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    vanessa mount isa, Australia 02-23-14
    vanessa mount isa, Australia 02-23-14 Member Since 2008
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    59
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    "Predictable, Lighthearted Fun"
    Would you recommend this book to a friend? Why or why not?

    If they were looking for a light-hearted easy listen.


    What three words best describe Davina Porter’s voice?

    The narration, like the story, is fun, easy to listen to and inoffensive. Well matched.


    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Showing: 1-10 of 14 results PREVIOUS12NEXT
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  • Julia
    FIVE OAK GREEN, Kent, United Kingdom
    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
  • 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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