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The Secret Countess

Narrated by: Sian Thomas
Length: 3 hrs and 26 mins
Categories: Young Adults, Ages 13 & Up
5.0 out of 5 stars (1 rating)

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Publisher's Summary

By the award-winning and bestselling author of Journey to the River Sea, a novel that sings with characteristic Ibbotson warmth and wit.

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 Armed with an out-of-date book on housekeeping, Anna determines to become a housemaid and she finds work at the Earl of Westerholme's crumbling but magnificent mansion.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

Critic Reviews

"An uplifting tale of romance - and Sian Thomas¿s Russian accent is irresistible."( The Observer)

What listeners say about The Secret Countess

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Profile Image for Melissa Keating
  • Melissa Keating
  • 21-06-2016

Heavily edited

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.

5 people found this helpful

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  • KMC219
  • 02-04-2019

Abridged

I’ve read this before and it’s missing some of my favorite parts, however, The performance was excellent and I enjoyed listening to it.

2 people found this helpful

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  • jamie
  • 14-01-2019

Missing the best parts

This is such a wonderful book, and one I habitually pick up at least once or twice a year. The writing is beautiful and the characters seem to pop out of the story and drag you in. This audiobook, however, is not its' equal. Most of the characterizing pieces and lines are missing, as are most of our main characters thoughts. As mentioned in another review the ballet russes are missing, Anna's childhood is sped through at a breakneck pace, her mannerisms around those around her are lost. All in all, you lose much of the dreaminess and sparkle from the story. The pacing is off, to me. This rendition gives the listener no time to breathe in the wonderful surroundings around Anna or time to mourn the loss of the streets of St. Petersburg. No time to feel the betrayal of Niannka, or the uncomfortable feeling some of the characters give you washing over and dawning slowly. You don't get the chance to feel Anna as a character and as a result it makes the rest of our characters feel like cardboard. All of this is not to say that this story is not good or delivered well, however it is most certainly not the same story. I beg anyone thinking about listening to this, please, please read the book first. I'm afraid if you do not, you will lose the magic that is Anna Grazinsky.

1 person found this helpful

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  • Amazon Customer
  • 06-06-2020

Not the same book!

I read this book when it was titled A Countess Below Stairs, and this is NOT the same book. It’s similar, but there are weird things missing.. i’m not sure why it was edited, but I preferred the other version.

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  • Anonymous User
  • 02-06-2020

The dazzling story of Anna Grazinsky

I absolutely loved this book as a young girl and wanted to have a listen to the cherished story. At first, I thought the ready of only 3 hours odd, I was a quick reader when I was but still 3 hours felt oddly short and found the reason as the story being abridged. I dont know why they sliced the story when it was already perfectly lengthy and simplistic. Perhaps they felt it needed to be shorter because Ms. Ibbotson is more known for her children stories but I digress. I found that the description had mentions of things they cut, like the outdated compendium which was the very lifeline Ana used to be a servant when she had no other sources. It was a rather large part of the story even if it drove the other staff completely bonkers. and the jarring reading of what made poor Baskerville actually submit himself below stairs to be comforted by Anna. Or the unpleasantness of the hair salon man, Renee who was greedy for Anna's hair which would have given him great profit, and his malicious treatment to his helper in the salon. And even the tragic cut of the Russian Ballet which would have explained more of Anna's love of ballet and the way she moves. Small details but monumental, I believe. Overall lovely story, and the reader Sian, did such a pleasant job voicing the character's that I couldn't as a young girl. There are no other selections of the book so this will have to do. I would suggest that if you are busy, listen and you see a dazzling story unfurl, but if you have time, please pick up a copy of the book and really dive into the sparkling world of Anna Grazinsky.

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  • Amazon Customer
  • 10-04-2020

suspenseful

I was taken back. didn't see the storyline coming. it was wonderful. it was a fast listen very entertaining

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  • Ashley_Nichol
  • 16-01-2020

Why are there parts missing?

I have owned this book for years and I am really sad that this isn’t the full story. Yes you can get the gist of it but it would be better complete as the author intended. The narration is perfectly fine and of course the story is good but the color is all gone out of it.

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  • Cami
  • 04-08-2019

So nice

I've loved this story since I was a girl. It is so nice to hear it read with affection.