Eliza's Daughter: A Sequel to Jane Austen's Sense and Sensibility
Sourcebooks, 2008 (1994)
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Reviewed by Hilary Williamson
've been enjoying Joan Aiken's rather quirky YA books for years but had not realized that she'd also written Jane Austen sequels. Though it is much more in Aiken's than in Austen's style (not a bad thing, just different) I enjoyed
. As the subtitle reminds us, it is a sequel to
Sense and Sensibility
(and not, as I assumed from the title, to
Pride and Prejudice
iken's young heroine, the illegitimate daughter of Eliza Williams and John Willoughby, grows up in the 1790s in Nethery Othery, known locally as
because of the aristocracy's habit of sending their illegitimate children there for fosterage. Pretty, red-haired Eliza has a sixth finger on one hand, which is also much larger than the other. Eliza's foster mother sends her daily to the vicarage into the '
decidedly questionable custody
' of Dr. Moultrie, where she at least acquires a good classical education. As a small child, Eliza also meets - and spends a great deal of time roaming the countryside with - two famed poets.
liza's best friend is older Hoby and she cares for - and courageously rescues - a frail younger child they call Triz, leading to her association with the child's mother, Lady Hariot Vexford. Lady Hariot eventually is forced to take Triz to Spain, but arranges for Eliza to attend Mrs. Haslam's school in Bath. There, despite learning '
society's hypocrisies, concealments, rancours and enmities
', she thrives until the malice of the Bath Beaux ruins her reputation, and sends her on her travels again. Along the way, Eliza begins to learn about her parents and reconnects with (a now disapproving) Hoby.
liza meets each twist and turn with courage and loyalty to those she loves - traits that take her on a perilous journey to Spain when Lady Hariot calls on her for aid. And - an aspect of the story I liked best as Joan Aiken avoids a trite ending - she makes her own life, and vows to defend her own daughter '
from society's jealousies, ambitions and rancours.
' I recommend
to fans of historical fiction (as well as to any who wonder what happened after
Sense and Sensibility
) as an unusual, enjoyable read.
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