Tuesday, April 18, 2017

Book review: Alex & Eliza by Melissa de la Cruz

alex & eliza by melissa de la cruz

Book Summary
Their 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.

Flo's Review
You know as soon as I discovered that this book was going to exist, I added it to my TBR. I love Hamilton and was really excited about the opportunity to delve more into their love story. My fiance was a history major and always delights in reminding me that everything about the play is not 100% factual. Creative liberties were taken for the sake of the story and the presentation. So it was good for me to read another take, another version of the story. I found myself comparing the differences in this book to the differences in the play, thinking: "That's not how it happened!" But then I would have to remind myself that the play isn't exactly how it happened either. It was an interesting experience and I really enjoyed it.

I listened to the audiobook and the narrator takes on a tone of speaking to match the old world style of writing. At first I thought to myself, "I can't do this." Between the audiobook reader's obvious affected tone and the older style of speaking in the writing, I felt like I was listening to a history book. But I kept on listening. I found that I enjoyed Eliza's spirit and intelligence and Alex's endearing character. And the more I listened, the more it made sense to me that the audiobook narrator was speaking as she was. It added an extra layer of seeming authenticity to the story. It still would have worked with someone speaking regularly, but it honestly sounded more realistic in the more formal tone. I appreciate what she did; it really worked for this story.

The end of the story was interesting. I enjoyed how de la Cruz was able to incorporate another famous person into the story that most Americans remember from their history lessons (and pop culture phrasing). But some of it was random. Why all the focus on her mother's thoughts all of a sudden? I feel like this could have ended with the wedding and been wrapped up perfectly, without the extra bed chamber and honeymoon scenes.

Eliza's sister Peggy is hardly mentioned in the play, so it was nice to learn her story and see her personality. We got to really see the Schuyler sisters together; and they fit together so well. The bad guy was baaaad. Well done! I really did not like the guy.

Alex & Eliza is definitely enjoyable for fans of Hamilton, and I think it will be definitely interesting for history buffs. We got a good bit about the war and a very nice feel for what it was like to live during those times.

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