A Countess Below Stairs
, by Eva Ibbotson
, is a novel which follows the story of Anna Granzinsky, a Russian countess before World War I
. She is a charming child seeing the good in everything and everyone: her cousin Sergei, her younger brother Petya, one of her multiple governesses
, despite being pampered and adored by her father, fussed over by the servants, and cosseted by her mother. However, she is forced to flee Russia after the Bolsheviks
seized power and her father dies, and instead becomes a housemaid at Mersham, home of the Earl of Westerholme, after persuading Pinny, her governess, to let her and deciding not to tell her mother, brother, or cousin Sergei. Despite the household's doubts, Anna works harder than everyone, and they grow to love her. She befriends the Earl's uncle and staff, and the Earl, Rupert, begins to fall in love with her.
Unfortunately, the Earl's fiance is an extremely selfish woman, and mistreats his friends, staff, and dog when he's not around. As their wedding draws closer, both Anna and the Earl feel the urgency of their love grow, and desperately find a way to stop the wedding. The problem is: Anna must keep her identity from everyone, even the Earl.