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Eliza's Daughter: A Sequel to Jane Austen's Sense and Sensibility Paperback – Nov 1 2008


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 352 pages
  • Publisher: Sourcebooks Landmark; Reprint edition (Nov. 1 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1402212887
  • ISBN-13: 978-1402212888
  • Product Dimensions: 2.4 x 15.2 x 19.6 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 431 g
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #702,468 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Amazon.com: 8 reviews
27 of 28 people found the following review helpful
Great read, but little to do with Sense and Sensibility Nov. 30 2008
By Laurel Ann - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
Have you ever read a totally unfavorable book review so full of acrimony that it left you wondering if you would have the same reaction? I have, and am often hooked into trying out a book to see if I agree. So when I read a collection of reviews gathered at the Austenfans website against Joan Aiken's novel Eliza's Daughter : A Sequel to Jane Austen's Sense and Sensibility, I was intrigued. Here are a few of the zingers to set the mood. "It is the worst JA sequel I have ever read", "I wonder why ANYONE would have bothered to write something like this!", "I cannot recommend this book, except as an example of what NOT to do when writing a sequel to any great novel, especially Jane Austen.", or the final insult, "How did it even get published?" Ouch! To add further to the mêlée, this website was created and is maintained by Sourcebooks, the current publisher of Eliza's Daughter originally issued in 1994 and now available in a new edition. Cleverly, only a publisher of this depth and confidence would have the strength and wisdom to assemble such a collection of scathing reviews and post them as publicity. A blunder - or a stroke of marketing savvy? We shall see.

Eliza's Daughter continues the story of a very minor character in Sense and Sensibility who receives scant mention in the original novel as the illegitimate child of Eliza Williams and her seducer John Willoughby. The infant, also named Eliza Williams is placed by her guardian Colonel Brandon in the care of a negligent foster mother in the village of Byblow Bottom, an infamous Regency era repository for the natural offspring of public persons who were reared away from their parents to avoid disclosure of their existence. Raised in this rural backwater Eliza learns to survive under difficult circumstance and scrape together a bit of education, all the while trying to unravel the mystery of her parentage. Clever and creative, she knows by age twelve that education is the key to her survival and seeks out Colonel Brandon's attorney's and asks for their assistance while he is abroad serving in the army. They send her on to the Rev. Edward Ferrars and his wife Elinor nee Dashwood at Delaford. The Ferrars are living in genteel poverty as a country vicar and his wife with one daughter away at school and Elinor's mother the once elegant Mrs. Dashwood now suffering from mental illness. Their acquaintance is strained and they decide to pack her off to school in Bath where their daughter Nell attends and Elinor's younger sister Margaret Dashwood is a teacher. She is not very welcome there either, but she endures and excels in music having a gifted voice which brings her some attention.

As the natural daughter of who knows whom, Eliza is definitely a social pariah and reminded of it with every connection and situation where she lives. The mystery of her parentage still lingers, but as the plot develops clues appear like bread crumbs along a trail bringing her closer to an answer by directing her to London and then on to Portugal. Ms. Aiken writes an engaging tale and knows how to keep our attention by a series of misadventures and recoveries by the heroine. We meet new characters as well who are interesting and authentic, but it is her treatment of Austen's original characters that is troubling and forms the largest objection from all of the previous reviewers.

When Austen's novel concluded we were left with the happy thought that both Marianne and Elinor were married, their mother Mrs. Dashwood and younger sister Margaret are in better financial circumstances and the adversarial characters such as Lucy Steele, John Willoughby, and Mrs. Ferrars were much the worse for their life choices. So, as we read Eliza's Daughter and discover that the happily-ever-after does not really exist beyond the last page of the original novel it is more than a bit unsettling. Colonel and Marianne Brandon are childless and have departed for India and show little if no interest in Eliza's well being. This seems odd, since the Colonel has in the past always shown great concern for Eliza's grandmother, mother and his friends. Elinor and Edward live a penurious and Spartan life eeking out an exsistence at Delaford. Edward is now a bitter man more concerned for his parishioners than his family and Elinor faintly the strong and wise woman that we knew from the past. Their only surviving child Nell is a pill, negligent of her familiar duties and callous to others feelings. Mrs. Dashwood was always a bit unfocused on reality, but now she is insane? Margaret Dashwood is a spinster working as a teacher then a companion? As one reviewer stated, "I found it to be so totally mean spirited toward all the characters we have come to know and love so dearly", and I have to agree. In defense of Ms. Aiken's choice of plot and character development, if everything was sunshine and syllabub, there would be nothing to write about, so in making Austen's good guys the bad guys, she makes her heroine Eliza more pitiable and plucky, but at what cost?

Reading the negative reviews in advance was really a gift leaving me with no expectation of liking this novel. In fact, I was strongly disposed to disapprobation myself, for what Janeite could condone such mistreatment of beloved characters? So I began with an entirely different objective in reading Eliza's Daughter, not as an Austen sequel but as a Dickensian tale full of memorable characters, social corruption, sinister doings and a twisting plot - Eliza Williams has a Copperfieldish adventure - and as such, it became quite amusing. However, it could have been an even more enjoyable if Eliza had been allowed to have a few more positive friendships to support her along her journey as Mr. Dickens supplied David Copperfield with his endearing characters such as Peggoty, Mr. Barkis and Wilkins Micawber. Choosing to make Austen's heroes and heroines the villains of this tale was a shocking and shallow choice. I may never forgive Ms. Aiken for striping away the tone and quality that Austen developed, but I will thank her for an inventive and engaging story that really had very little to do with what we experienced in Sense and Sensibility.
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
Pretend it's not a S&S sequel, and it's pretty good Jan. 6 2009
By Debbie - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
This book was not at all what I expected. First, the events in this book occur after the end of Sense and Sensibility. The Eliza of this book is the daughter of Little Eliza and Willoughby. The future painted in this book for the Sense and Sensibility heroines is possible, but I really didn't feel it was probable considering how S&S left the characters.

The author gives the heroes and heroines of S&S rather dismal futures and makes them into petty, weak, spiteful, jealous people. Not to mention that several of these characters where given physical characteristics (like a deformity) not mentioned in S&S.

So I ignored that this book was supposed to be a sequel to S&S. In that case, the writing is good, though the pacing was slow for the first 30 pages. The author obviously thoroughly researched the time period, and the vivid details immersed me into the characters' world.

The characters were all interesting and varied. Eliza, our heroine, seemed determined to rush head-long into ruin by continually making poor decisions. Though she makes a show of staying respectable, she seems to feel like she's fated to end up like her mother (pregnant, unmarried, and alone). This really isn't a romance book.

There are no explicit sex scenes. Some people might not be interested in reading this book because of how the S&S characters are portrayed and because [spoiler] Eliza does end up pregnant, unwed, unattached, and satisfied with that state of things [end spoiler].

Genre Reviews
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
A VERY boring read April 14 2010
By The Girl Who Loved Books - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
I loved S&S , so any sequel sounds great to me.

I wish I hadn't bothered with this one. It's dull, and really has nothing to do with S&S except for a couple of the same characters (who seem to have received personality transplants).

Dull, dull, dull...don't waste your time on this one. Try "Elinor and Marianne" instead.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
Eliza's daughters, A sequel to Sense and Sensibility. Nov. 22 2008
By B. J. Stevenson - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
For avid Jane Austen readers sequels are fun and not to be taken seriously but we cannot help hoping that someone else might capture the magic. Joan Aitken is the best of many who try to prolong the enjoyment of Miss Austen's style. This story, Eliza's Daughters,has ingenious plot lines, moves along at a great pace till a quick and rather weak ending. An enjoyable read , nevertheless.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
A Fine but Flawed Early Aiken "Austen" Nov. 5 2008
By Sharon Isch - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
In her half dozen or so Jane Austen sequels, the late Joan Aiken usually chose as her heroine one of the minor characters of the original novel and built a story around her, with Austen's original leads turning up in lesser roles. For this one, she selected someone whose existence was a key plot element in "Sense and Sensibility," but who never actually appeared there, Willoughby's illegitimate daughter.

When we meet her, our heroine-to-be seems destined for the usual fate that 18th Century rich men bestowed on their mistresses' daughters, who were farmed out in some remote village until big enough to earn their keep as a servant or governess or some such. But fate and Aiken have other plans for Eliza's daughter. And I think you'll find her story indeed interesting, eventful, Austenesque and a worthy period page turner.

Aiken was a wonderful writer in her own right and, to my mind, far and away the best of the Austen imitators and well worth reading--I especially liked her "Jane Fairfax." But I do have some "buts" here. For one thing, Aiken lacked Austen's gift for wit and creating the memorable characters who unintentionally supply it; I really miss that here. For another, Eliza, our heroine-narrator, tells us up front that she's going to leave some things out of her story, then makes good on that promise by throwing us a curve at the end that I don't think we deserved. Also I think you'll not much like the ever-afters she gave the beloved S&S characters who reappear in this one. All of which is why I'm reluctantly giving this re-release of one of Aiken's earliest Austen sequels three stars instead of four.

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