the reluctant heiress | book review

One of my absolute favorite YA novels is Eva Ibbotson’s A Countess Below Stairs.  A few years ago, I picked up another one of her books hoping that I would enjoy it just as much.  A started it several times, not being able to sink into the story. I listed it as an alternate title on my 2014 TBR list and after spotting it on Audible, I decided to give the audiobook a shot.

5711852The Reluctant Heiress by Eva Ibbotson

Rating: 2.5-4.0

Let me first just say that I have a hard time with the title.  This book, as well as A Countess Below Stairs, was re-released in 2009 from its original publication in 1982 with the title Magic Flutes.  I think the original title fits the story better, but whatever – it is what it is!

Eva Ibbotson tells the story of Austrian heiress Princess Theresa-Maria of Pfaffenstein. With nothing to her name accept a castle that is far past its prime, this princess cheerfully hides her identity and secures a position as an under-wardrobe mistress for an opera company with its own financial struggles.

Completely unselfish and unwavering in her belief that everyone is equal, she throws herself into her work and her passion for music believing that it is the medium that will level the social playing field. Meanwhile, her broken-down old castle is purchased by self-made millionaire Guy Farne who has grand designs of his own.  Only Guy’s plans center around re-capturing the heart of a woman from his past. When their paths cross, both Tessa’s and Guy’s respective worlds are flipped around and each is forced to evaluate what love means and what they truly want in life.

This book definitely charming and has its clever moments just as I expect from Ibbotson. However, I wouldn’t put it up their with A Countess Below Stairs though.  I don’t know but there wasn’t the same level of dignity in this book. And while Tessa is very sweet and likable, I didn’t warm up to the other characters very much.

I think, perhaps, I’ll give the audio another shot in the future. Distant future….lol.

I’m glad I finally got through this read and I can cross it off my TBR list and add it to my Audio Book Challenge for this year!  Two birds, one stone. Yeah, baby!

Hope y’all are having a great week so far!

Happy reading!

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a countess below stairs review

714569I’m counting this toward the Audiobook Challenge even though it’s a total cheat because I’ve listened to this book at least one-hundred times, including a happy run-through this year.  This review is a bit of a cheat as well since it’s just an abridged version of the review I did on Tumblr in 2010.

Whatever, I’m going for it anyhow!

I discovered this book years ago on accident at the library (isn’t that how so many of our favorites are discovered?).  The audiobook was read by Davina Porter, one of my favorite narrators.  Her performance of this book is beautiful!

Eva Ibbotson tells the story of a Russian countess who must keep her identity hidden after her family loses everything during the Russian Revolution. Finding herself practically penniless in England, she manages to secure a job as a housemaid for an Englishman’s estate.  Utterly out of her realm, Anna, armed with a copy of Selina Strickland’s The Domestic Servant’s Compendium, is, nevertheless, determined to work hard for her boss, the new Earl of Westerholme, who is just returning home from fighting in the Great War. With her zest for life, her willingness to please, her selfless heart, and genuine interest in the lives of others, Anna Grazinsky soon captures the hearts of the inhabitants of Mersham, including that of Lord Westerholme himself who is in the midst of preparing for his marriage to the golden-haired, blue-eyed goddess, Muriel Hardwick.

I looooove this story!  If you’re looking for a romantic comedy, this is it!  It’s completely fast-paced, witty, honest, dignified, vivid and charming.  Ibbotson spun a tale of honor, duty, and loyalty, as well as pure, unadulterated love and I definitely put it up there in my top 5 favorite YA novels.

All the girls had bobbed curtsies as he passed, but Rupert was about to encounter for the first time this weapon of social intercourse in Anna Grazinsky’s hands. One arm flew gracefully outward and up like an ascending dove, her right foot, elegantly flexed, drew a wide arc on the rich carpet-and she sank slowly, deeply and utterly to the ground…here was homage made flesh; here, between the bust of an obese Roman emperor and a small, potted palm, Rupert, Seventh Earl of Westerholme, was being offered commitment, servitude, another human being’s all. 

Reading the hard copy is great but if you can, get the audiobook read by Davina Porter.  It’s a delightful listen!

Y’all stay blessed :)