Review Blog

Oct 22 2017

Alex and Eliza by Melissa De La Cruz

cover image

PanMacmillan, 2017. ISBN 9781509869978
(Age: 15+) Recommended for readers of romance. Themes: Romance, American History - American Revolution, Love, Wealth and Privilege. If you loved Pride and Prejudice you'll love this American tale of love in the privileged world of old New York in the 1770's. This is also the era of George Washington, the rise of the American identity and patriotism separate from their British and European forbears, and also the era of conflict known as the American Revolution. Into this historical setting is a retelling of real events involving the young Alex Hamilton, who came from nowhere to be the respected right-hand man for the General George Washington. In this role he meets the Schuyler family (one of the wealthy founding families in America of Dutch heritage) and falls for the second of the marriageable daughters - Eliza. Eliza is much like Elizabeth Bennett of Pride and Prejudice in that she is thoughtful, responsible and a little bit feisty and independent, and not swayed by the fashion trends and social expectations of the times. Her independence and unselfish attitude is unusual in the world of privilege and wealth that has formed in the growing country. The Schuyler's circumstances and the troubled times mean that love and marriage is a carefully orchestrated alliance between well-to-do families to protect and preserve the honour of a family name in the new country. Consequently any connection between Alex and Eliza, although romantic, may be doomed to fail. The course of history though reminds us that in this unusual story, love does rule over expectation.
Melissa De La Cruz wrote this novelisation of the historical love story after seeing the musical - Hamilton: An American Musical. The epic love story is written in the style of a much older novel, with a proper and polite nod to the times. The beautiful language is very reminiscent of Jane Austen and other writers from the same era. The glimpse into early American history, and the social and fashion history of the 1770's is delightful and almost humourous to a modern reader eg. the dusted wigs worn by male and females as a statement of their standing in society is almost impossible to fathom for a modern reader! An insight into the period of the American Revolution is also intriguing, as it weaves through the romance.
Carolyn Hull

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