Tuesday 16 August 2011

Book Review - Eliza Rose

Title: The Remarkable Life & Times of Eliza Rose
Author: Mary Hooper
Publisher: Bloomsbury Publishing PLC
Release Date: 4 Sep 2006
ISBN-13: 978-0747575825

Ousted from her family by her new stepmother, Eliza Rose makes her way to London--only to be thrown straight into prison for stealing a bite to eat. Her life takes a remarkable twist when she is rescued and befriended by the infamous actress Nelly Gwyn. Nelly introduces her to the courtly intrigue, politics, and glamour of the court of King Charles II, as well as to a handsome young man known as Valentine Howard. Eliza is smitten, yet their love cannot be, as she is only a lowly maid and he is an aristocrat.
From orange seller to mermaid and to a lady about town, Eliza will take on many remarkable guises, but will she ever find what she yearns to know--a place where she truly belongs?

My Review
This was another one I have had in my locker for a long time. I kept picking it up then choosing something else instead, but this time I determined to read it.
Eliza Rose grew up in Somersetshire with her family. But things change quickly. Her step-mother kicks her out of the house with no real explanation so Eliza makes her way to London to find her father who is there working as a mason. On the way Eliza meets some trouble and ends up in jail for stealing a pastry. Not used to the rough conditions in the prison or the tough way of London living she has to fight to survive. Ma Gwyn passes the jail one day and spots Eliza in the courtyard, she passes herself of as her aunt and gets her out, but Ma Gwyn has other plans for Eliza, and makes her work for her keep, it's harmless at the moment, the worst she must do is dress up as a Mermaid, but Ma owns a 'bawdy house' and Eliza does not want that future, she then meets Nelly, a young girl who works in the King's theatre. Nelly takes her and they become friends. but Eliza still needs to find her place in the world, somewhere she can really belong.
Set in the 1670's the book has an authentic feel to it. It takes you back in time to another period. Eliza is lovely, lost, lonely, but determined and fierce. She comes up against a lot of hardship but doesn't break down, sure she has the odd crying moment, but she pulls through and carries on. She trusts easily and the friends she makes she becomes very close to and she is loyal.
It is written sort of like a journal. It starts from Eliza waking up in the cell and goes through her life from there. The host of characters are great. Nelly is so vibrant and full of life and I could really picture her in my head. 
I love anything like this, that has that authentic old day feel. It's like being taken to a whole new world, a new world that still feels familiar. 
The ending was predictable, by about a quarter of the way through the book I figured out who her family was, but I was surprised by how she found out.
Overall I really enjoyed it and would definitely read other books by this author.

My Rating
I would give this book 9.5/10. This is a lovely well written book that will capture your heart and mind.

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