REVIEW: Eliza’s Daughter by Joan Aiken

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Eliza's Daughter by Joan AikenThis is our first post for the Sense and Sensibility Bicentenary Challenge.
And while we’re celebrating the S&S bicentenary, don’t forget the Twitter tag: #sns200

The late author Joan Aiken was best known for her alliteratively-named children’s books, such as The Wolves of Willoughby Chase (wonder where she got that name) and Black Hearts at Battersea. We enjoyed these books immensely as a Young Person and a few years later was delighted to find Miss Aiken had produced more grown-up fare, namely Victorian-set Gothic novels.* We also have read a couple of her Austen-related books as well, and found them fair to middling. Thus, we approached Eliza’s Daughter with some hope of finding at least a well-written tale, and possibly something quite enjoyable, but more often found ourself wondering why Miss Aiken hated Sense and Sensibility so much. Or if not the book, at least she must have been seriously displeased with the characters, because she pretty much backed up the failboat and herded them all aboard; except of course for the title character, who not only was beautiful but could sing at a professional level, scramble herself against all odds into an extensive education that included the ability to speak several languages, rescue kidnapped children from the gypsies, dowse for water (we are so not making that up), and dispatch a villain bent on robbery and murder with a knife concealed in her boot. Even Mr. Darcy would have to admit Eliza the Youngest was a very accomplished woman, we think.

But we get ahead of ourself a bit. Continue reading