Tag Archive: Potter

A Countess Below Stairs



Eva Ibbotson is actually an author from my childhood. I read a lot as a child, which is probably not very surprising to most people, but really, I don’t remember a lot of the books I read then. Except for The Last Treasure, which I read when I was in the third or fourth grade and couldn’t get out of my head after that, even though I had forgotten the title and the author’s name (which I didn’t mention here because I CAN’T REMEMBER IT…).

The book I most likely read the most as a kid, excepting the Harry Potter series, was a book called Which Witch. I didn’t even realize that A Countess Below Stairs (which I got for Christmas this last time round) was written by the same author as Which Witch until I went to put it away on my bookshelf and found that I already owned a book by Ibbotson. Which Witch is a truly magnificent book, despite the fact that it was written for children, and I really must do a book review for it, but on to this review.

This book was actually weird for me in that the main character didn’t seem to have any arc. She starts out obedient, nice, whatnot and she ends that way. It was a really good read and it was pretty hilarious, but I attribute it to my interest in aristocratic society more than anything. The other characters seemed a bit shallow to me in the beginning, but they filled out very nicely as the book progressed.

Despite the unfortunately static main character, the book was really easy for me to read. Of course, now that I’ve taken a class entirely based around the Lord of the Rings trilogy, every read seems easy to me. That is the best part of reading, in my opinion. When the book flows well and the characters are engaging and Sam and Frodo aren’t wandering around the marshes for five hundred pages or whatever it is.

Some people are amazed at a bookworm’s ability to sit and read for hours at a time. From the outside, it certainly does seem boring, but in fact, it isn’t at all like sitting around doing nothing. In fact, it’s the most compelling thing I can think of. There are plenty of things that teenagers do that are more boring than reading. Most television shows are repetitive and obnoxious, text messaging people requires a lot of waiting and a lot of emoticons.

Last night I read the first one fourth or so of this book and I have some opinions that might be too long for Twitter. Here we go.

Does anyone else think of it as a little ironic how Harry acts at the beginning whilst he is still at the Dursley’s? He spends a fair amount of time complaining about how awful they are to him, yet whenever he is around any of them, he’s always discribed as “cold”. I understand why, I mean, I’ve read the books, but Harry, being the apparently compassionate person that he is (since he’s always trying to prevent everyone from sacrificing things for him and he tried to save everyone during the second task in The Goblet of Fire), is kind of a little jerk to the Dursley’s.

He doesn’t even TRY to be nice to them. I’m sure he sees this as pay-back for all those years that he was the underdog of the situation, but since when is revenge the right way to go? He DOES save Duddley and he DOES restrain himself for the most part, but these are his character peeking through. I understand about, when writing, you aren’t supposed to make your main character perfect at the beginning so that they have room to grow by the end of the story, but this bugs me a bit.

Then, when he is reunited with Ron and Hermione, he acts like a jerk to them, which is COMPLETELY understandable, seeing as we’re all human. And again, it might just be the stress that Harry is under, but I just wanted to point out this. Sometimes people make themselves miserable and blame it on other things. Feel free to defend Harry in the comments if you wish.