A Countess Below stairs
by Eva Ibbotson
Published May 10, 2007 (first published May 10, 1981)
From the book's back cover:
After the Russian revolution turns her world topsy-turvy, Anna, a young Russian Countess, has no choice but to flee to England. Penniless, Anna hides her aristocratic background and takes a job as servant in the household of the esteemed Westerholme family, armed only with an outdated housekeeping manual and sheer determination.
Desperate to keep her past a secret, Anna is nearly overwhelmed by her new duties - not to mention her instant attraction to Rupert, the handsome Earl of Westerholme. To make matters worse, Rupert appears to be falling for her as well. As their attraction grows stronger, Anna finds it more and more difficult to keep her most dearly held secrets from unraveling. And then there's the small matter of Rupert's beautiful and nasty fiancée...
* * *
This book is very, very sweet. When Anna has to leave Russia, her family made plans. One of the servants took the family jewels and escaped. She was to meet up with Anna, her mother and brother, when they were out of the country. But she never does.
In England, Anna hides who she is. She takes a job as a servant, assuming that since she's always had servants - and read a book on what servants should do and how they behave - she won't have any problem.
Anna is one of the most devoted servants, but hiding the fact that she's somebody is harder than she thought. People recognize something in her that screams "aristocracy."
I read this before watching Downton Abbey, but if you enjoy the whole upstairs/downstairs-ness of DA, you should really try this book!