Anna, a young countess, has lived in the glittering city of St Petersburg all her life in an ice-blue palace overlooking the River Neva. But when revolution tears Russia apart, her now-penniless 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 Armed with an out-of-date book on housekeeping, Anna determines to become a housemaid and she finds work at the Earl of Westerholme's crumbling but magnificent mansion.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 . . .
©1981 Eva Ibbotson; (P)2009 Macmillan Digital Audio
This was one of my favorite books when I was little. My hard copy is buried in a relative's attic, so I was thrilled to use a monthly credit to purchase this.
Sadly, the story has been chopped and chiseled, with several characters and plot points completely erased. To be fair, the flow is lovely and I think this version would be more friendly for young children. I could see it being especially valuable on car rides. However, I was sad to see the Ballet Russes cut, and Rupert came across as a bit creepy without some of the humanizing scenes, although it's still a lovely and appropriate story for kids.
The narration was good, and the reader did a lovely job of imparting Ibbotson's fairy-tale feel. However, the Russian accent grew old. Given the short length of the book and its appropriateness for young listeners, I wish they would have simply gone all in and performed it as a radio drama.
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