Thursday, 7 September 2017

Alex and Eliza by Melissa de la Cruz

Alex and Eliza follows the love story of two characters from American history - Alexander Hamilton and Elizabeth Schuyler. Set during the American Revolution, the novel opens on the Schuyler ball, as Catherine Schuyler schemes to get her three eldest children (all girls) a husband before their financial ruin is uncovered. During the ball, Eliza - the middle of the girls, catches the attention of the handsome Alex Hamilton. Although a Colonel and right-hand man to George Washington himself, he comes with no family name or money, and as such can only admire Eliza from afar. But when fortune forces the pair together two years later, will they be able to resist their growing attraction?

I want to state first before writing this review that I have no idea what 'Hamilton' is, and have no real inclination to find out. All I know is that it is a musical of some kind. I also know very little about American history - being British I'm obviously much more interested in European history, and as such most of the place names and battles mentioned went right over my head. This possibly meant I didn't get as much enjoyment out of this novel as someone who is interested in this aspect of history will.

I initially picked this up because I thought it would be a YA equivalent to Gone With The Wind, or Little Women - which is perhaps unfair to this novel, as these are two great American classics to live up to. The plot, and the romance itself, is sweet and well written - if a little bland. Alex and Eliza seem to spend more time mooning over each other than actually physically getting to know each other. In fact, Alex admits he's infatuated with this women before he's even met her. At times I also found the declarations of love a little cloying - especially from Alex, who is suppose to be a respected Colonel, but came across as a lovesick teenager.

The strongest aspect of this novel was definitely the relationship between the sisters: Angelica, Peggy and Eliza. I could see similarities and influences from Pride and Prejudice in their conversations about suitors, especially in Kitty's story line, and the love they share for each is palpable. I also would have loved to have had more time devoted to the other men in the Schuyler sister's lives - especially the enigmatic British arms dealer. However, I do believe all three girls came across as rather naive and at times I thought the author was trying to force Eliza's 'progressiveness' on the reader too much. She's described as being intelligent and 'strong willed' - her father's favourite, even over his sons (again, I should mirroring of Pride and Prejudice here) but most of the time I felt this behaviour was rather forced and out of character for a female in this time period.

Some of the wording used in this is also odd. Alex uses the phrase 'alas and alack' at one point. I'm all for using phrases commonly banded about in a specific time period, however this was never consistent and rather jarring to the text.

The conclusion was wrapped up well, if a little cliche and what was expected. I would have preferred a few surprises.

I think this novel is aimed more at people who enjoy their American history with a liberal sprinkling of romance. Unfortunately, that's not really me.

Alex and Eliza is available on Amazon now.

 - 3 stars

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