Eliza's Daughter

Eliza's Daughter
Joan Aiken
St Martin's Press, 1994

Confession from the get-go: I didn't finish this one. I don't normally count unfinished books towards challenges (okay, theoretically I don't: I've only had one unfinished book that was relevant to a challenge this year), but I wasted so much reading time on this one that I'm counting it. Fair's fair.

The premise is intriguing: What happened to the baby, the daughter, of Col. Brandon's "lost" ward? You know, the one that Willoughby fathered, and the knowledge of which cost him everything he held dear? See: great premise. I just had a really hard time getting into the story, which is told from the point of view of this baby - also called Eliza. Beginning with her early memories, then wandering into her more 'grown up' experiences, Eliza introduces herself to us as a fairly worldly, if wholly unattached young girl. She's never met Col. Brandon, her benefactor, nor does she know anything at all about her (supposed) dead parents. When she finally, through a series of unfortunate circumstances, finds herself at Delaford, we meet Elinor and Edward Ferrars. And here's where I really started having a hard time with the story. All of Jane's beloved characters from Sense and Sensibility have evolved (or maybe devolved?) into characters so unlike how I imagine them that I had a hard time taking the story seriously from that point forward. It kept moving rather slowly, also, so I started flipping ahead and reading sections/chapters throughout the book until the end.

For someone with more patience, it is probably a better read - and there were a few twists and turns here and there. It just wasn't my cup of tea, and that's a-ok. Because if I loved every book I ever picked up? We'd be in a world of trouble, re: storage.

Book provided by my local library.


  1. It's hard for me when I am reading Austen spin-offs and the characters act completely unlike themselves. Or the entire premise of the book is based on a character doing something that they would never, ever do. Even if it is really well written I just can't get behind it.

  2. I haven't read this, but I agree with you -- what a great concept.
    And your last two sentences made me laugh.