Thursday, October 07, 2010
What are you reading Thursday: Fave Read of the Year
I read a lot of different books. I read across genres (though mostly Romance) and subgenres. I cannot keep up with my tbr and that is frustrating. And sometimes I rebel against what I "should" be reading at any given moment and simply reach into my bookshelf for something I "want".
One book I had on my tbr was The Secret Countess (also known as The Countess Below Stairs) by Eva Ibbotson. My daughter had been given it as a gift, but historicals are not her thing. I thought it looked great and so I kept it on my shelf for when I wanted some YA to read. It should be noted that I ADORE historicals as well. So one day last month I snagged it from the shelf, opened the cover, and fell into the world of Anna and Rupert, post Russian revolution and WWWI.
This was my first Ibbotson book although my youngest loves Journey to the River Sea and The Star of Kazan, which she's read and I haven't. I read The Secret Countess in 2 days, quite a feat for me as I don't get big chunks of time to sit and read. I adored it. I liked everything about it. And that happens so rarely for me that it was a wonderful discovery to make.
Rupert is a good man who wants to do the right thing. He is a second son and so has the reputation of not being as much of a self-starter as his older brother, who died in the war. But Rupert is surprising. He's stronger than you first think and we get fed tidbits of his time in the service that let us know he's a true leader. It is easy to see he and Anna have feelings for each other, but for several reasons, including the huge responsibility he has towards his family, their staff, and the estate, he cannot break his engagement to Meriel.
An endearing cast also give this book its wonderful character and depth - The Honourable Olive is fabulous. You can't help but love this disabled child who is full of life and optimism (and hate Meriel for attempting to destroy that). The kitchen staff, the butler, even the old rogue Uncle Sebastian are terrific.
Ibbotson's writing has a lovely lyrical style to it and I slid through the pages like floating down a lazy river. I even got to a part where I thought, "OMG, they aren't going to get their happily ever after. And if they don't, I'm going to be so mad!" But Ibbotson didn't let me down. If anything, I wanted the final few pages to last a little longer.
The Secret Countess is a lovely story with a bit of romance and suitable for anyone 12-90. I didn't mind the lack of physical love. There was plenty else to keep me engrossed. I loved it so much, I ordered 3 more of her backlist - and The Dragonfly Pool for my youngest. Unlike her sister, she loves historical settings and I'm hoping to hand them down to her in a year or two.
Best book I've read all year and a wonderful author discovery for me.
Donna's current release is Proud Rancher, Precious Bundle. It's out in the UK now and is the Mills and Boon Book of the Month! You can find it in UK stores now or download it from the Mills and Boon site. It'll be in North America in February.