For What It's Worth

Wednesday, April 26, 2017

review: Alex & eliza by Melissa de la Cruz


32860355Their romance shaped a nation. The rest was history.

1777. Albany, New York.


As battle cries of the American Revolution echo in the distance, servants flutter about preparing for one of New York society’s biggest events: the Schuylers’ grand ball. Descended from two of the oldest and most distinguished bloodlines in New York, the Schuylers are proud to be one of their fledgling country’s founding families, and even prouder still of their three daughters—Angelica, with her razor-sharp wit; Peggy, with her dazzling looks; and Eliza, whose beauty and charm rival that of both her sisters, though she’d rather be aiding the colonists’ cause than dressing up for some silly ball.


Still, she can barely contain her excitement when she hears of the arrival of one Alexander Hamilton, a mysterious, rakish young colonel and General George Washington’s right-hand man. Though Alex has arrived as the bearer of bad news for the Schuylers, he can’t believe his luck—as an orphan, and a bastard one at that—to be in such esteemed company. And when Alex and Eliza meet that fateful night, so begins an epic love story that would forever change the course of American history. ~
Goodreads

Source: ARC provided by the publisher

Review:
Let me preface this review by saying I haven't seen Hamilton – the musical – or knew very much about the history of either Alexander Hamilton or Elizabeth Schuyler. I’ve noticed that a lot of readers who read this based on their love of Lin-Manuel Miranda’s hit musical seem disappointed. Since the publisher is really pushing this one to fans of the musical, I think it’s fair that readers have certain expectations. Since I have nothing to compare the book too – my opinion might not be yours.

I really enjoyed Alex & Eliza even though it’s a slow moving and understated romance. Certainly not the “Their romance shaped a nation. The rest was history.” sweeping romance I was expecting from the summary.

Honestly, it’s your basic historical romance set up. The girls of the Schuyler family are coming to a certain age and need to get married. ASAP! because the Schuyler finances aren’t that great and they need to get those girls paired off with rich men to save their reputation and property.

Of course, Eliza is going to be feisty and all – I will only marry for love!

Then she meets Alex and she is smitten with him despite the rumors of his rakish behavior and being the bearer of bad news against her father. Alex, in turn, loves Eliza’s sharp mind and understated poise. Alex believes he’s not of her social status and they keep getting separated by events and spend most of the book pining rather than wooing.

Despite all of this though – I kind of liked it - because of Eliza.

Eliza is a really delightful character. She wants to help the men in the war effort and really puts herself out there to do so, helping to vaccinate soldiers against small pox for example. She’s not a wild trouble maker or anything but she stands up for her convictions which I loved about her.

Her sisters, Peggy and Angelica, were interesting as well. They each knew what they wanted for themselves even if it meant marrying for convenience or money. Women didn’t have options back then but they both took control of the things that they could and did what was best for them. 

Alexander, on the other hand, was pretty boring and wishy washy. I understand that, as an orphan with no family, he didn’t feel he could ask for Eliza’s hand but because of that, nothing much happens with him as a character. Meanwhile Eliza’s leading a pretty bold and interesting life for a woman in those times. I honestly wish the book was just about her and her brushes with history during the Revolutionary War - which were rather extensive because of her family connections.

There’s a bit of a forced conclusion that finally forces our pair together and I wasn’t a fan. *Highlight for mild spoilers: Alex saves Eliza from a sexual assault.*

As far as historical accuracy goes…I did a little research after I finished and little was known about Alex & Eliza's romance so de la Cruz took some creative liberties to fill in those details but the historical references to the time, places, people and events seem accurate.

*Highlight for a real Alex/Eliza spoiler that ruins the whole”epic love story” thing lol - despite this being a love for the ages, Hamilton had a year long affair with Maria Reynolds, and was subsequently blackmailed by her husband, while Eliza was pregnant with their  seventh child.*

Alex & Eliza wasn't quite the book I was expecting but I recommend it if you're looking for lighter historical fiction with a dash of real life history and romance but not overly heavy laden with substance. It's a cute story - just not an epic romance that shaped a nation kind of story. If you manage your expectations it's a fun read.

*The publisher tweeted the other day that Penguin has picked up Alex & Eliza's story for a book #2. I bet now that we have the set up already, the next book will be more exciting with them being together more. 

13 comments:

  1. Shaped a nation.... I guess their love made the US then

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    1. They didn't change a damn thing in this book lol

      Now the next book might be better with that now that they are a couple.

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  2. Hm... yea, the infidelity would bother me as well, but this still sounds a bit interesting to me. I do know that I want to see the musical. :)

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    1. It doesn't happen HERE but I was looking them up just to learn more about their *epic* romance and yeah...not so epic lol

      It's a cute story and I really liked it. it's just not a sweeping romance (more like a P&P, traditional HR) or dive into history other than some name dropping and events that both are on the periphery of.

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  3. I have never read a book that the story is based on a history before. This story sounds very interesting. Not like the ones I'm used to. Awesome review, anyway. Thanks for sharing. I'll check this out. :)

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    1. I tend to stay away from that type of book but she did seem to get the details right but if you aren't a history buff - it's history light - so you won't be bored or bogged down.

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  4. Bummer that Alexander wasn't a bit more developed or interesting. And maybe a little over- marketing on this one eh? Ha ha but otherwise it sounds like Eliza is a great character and done well.

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    1. This definitely felt more like Eliza's story. For Alexander, it was more about feeling beneath her family because he was an orphan. That's not a bad thing but when you're talking about a man that "changed the course of history" he was a little dull, while she pushed forward and took control.

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  5. Eliza sounds like a strong heroine, which is one of the things I love to seen in the books I read. I am sorry to hear that it was not an epic love story as expected, but at least you still were able to get some enjoyment from it. Thanks for sharing.

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    1. I really liked her a lot. From what I read about her real life story it was much the same. She founded an orphanage and often helped out with the soldiers.

      It was a cute romance but nowhere near the epic love story promised. Alex could barely summon the courage to talk to her half the time lol

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  6. I know absolutely nothing about Hamilton, but I have seen scenes from random performances. From my basic assumption of the musical, I kind of thought that Eliza was the docile sister who just took what life gave her, I'm happy to see that I was wrong!

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    1. Going from the book - that was Peggy. Eliza was the most independent but even though both Angelica and Peggy toed the family line - I still felt they took control of their lives as well. They might have had limited choices but they controlled what they could of it.

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  7. LOL yep that would ruin the love story bit. Goodness.

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