Anna is a Russian countess forced to flee Russia with her family after the Bolshevik Revolution in 1917. Arriving in England, she takes a job as a housemaid at the grand estate of the young Earl of Westerholme. The couple falls in love, but circumstances beyond their control work to try to keep them apart.
This is a very predictable tale in many ways, but what I really liked about it was how well rounded the characters were. Anna is charming and passionate, and the young earl is convincingly tortured after his experiences in World War I. All of the characters are nicely fleshed out and interesting, and Ibotson's style is nicely poetic and evocative, and she really brings her story to life, especially with her central character, Anna.
Note: The Secret Countess was originally published as A Countess Below Stairs, hence the reason for the two titles in the thread title.
Having read The Red Necklace, I was keen to read this; I think Gardner tells a good story and I love the way she wraps it around historical events.
I was not disappointed with I, Coriander. The story of a girl from childhood to womanhood who lived through the time of Cromwell and Puritanism and compare and contrast that time with the Royalist regimes. The events in her life mirror somewhat the emotions and events of the world outside her home and her fairytale world.
The characters are well rounded and the reader can move with Coriander as she travels through her life and her difficulties, empathizing and championing her actions. The scene setting too is good both in London and in the fairy world. I can see how it would grab a young person's imagination well.
If I am being picky, the writing style is simplistic, but I have reminded myself that initially Gardner wrote this for young people, so it is probably in keeping with that genre - Librarians would be in a better position to assess that I'm sure.
A quick read, but enjoyable none the less.
Journey to the River Sea has been one of those kids books I have wanted to read since it came out as it has a gorgeous cover, won the Smarties Gold Awards and got great reviews.
The book is abpout an orphan who has to move to Brazil to live with her family over there. As with most orphans in books (and there are loads) the adopted family is mean and has taken on the orphan as a way to swindle money. Being set in Brazil we are promised adventures up the Amazon River, and with the two new friends she meets also orphans).
I'm not sure if I expected to much but I just thought this book was okay, it started off fairly slowly and I never got a sense of tension and adventure. I like kids books to take me back to being a kid, but this one didn't do this. If you want adventure in the Amazon you would do far better to read City of the Beasts by Isabel Allende.