“Ellie can’t change the past. But is it really too late to rectify the bad thing she did when Eliza was a baby?“
Tracey Scott-Townsend ~ The Eliza Doll
Ellie lives in a campervan with her dog, Jack, selling her handmade dolls at craft fairs. But there is one doll with no face and she can’t bear to finish until she comes to terms with the truth of what has happened…
There seems to be a trend for book synopses that are not very accurate. The Eliza Doll sounds like a story about a woman looking to find herself and understand a tragic event in her past.
However, the book is primarily a return to Ellie’s life in a commune and her many ‘accidental’ pregnancies. In fact, Ellie is pregnant for the vast majority of the book. Nobody’s perfect, but after your third ‘accidental’ pregnancy by a man whom you dislike, which leads to a child you resent… maybe it’s time to look for a more reliable form of contraception? But no, she goes on to have another two children with a man who refuses to grow up, only thinks about himself and ignores her and the children… until he has a masculine urge and knocks her up again.
The Ellie at the beginning of the book is feisty and interesting; in fact, she’s a great character. Even when she falls pregnant in her first year of university, she tells herself that she is in love with Jonah and committed to the relationship. Once she realises that he doesn’t feel the same way, she (understandably) begins to dislike him. Yet whenever he gives her a sniff of attention, she caves into his demands and we see her change into a weak, downtrodden woman.
This could have been a really interesting story about a psychological abusive relationship, but Jonah doesn’t come across as intelligent enough to be manipulative – he is just selfish and childish. When he appears to feel guilty later in life, it’s far from believable; their (eventual) divorce is the highlight of the book – but it seems too little, too late (and a little surprising, considering her weakness until this point).
It’s beautifully written in places, especially the description of the landscape, but overall the book is clunky and lacking in plot. It also randomly skips around in time and tense, making it very confusing. There are myriad supporting characters who are really interesting, but we never get to explore them, as the author chooses instead to subject us to Ellie’s continuous moaning about everything and genuinely being a bit pathetic. There are also farfetched coincidences and random elements that add nothing to the story and are just irritating.
The concept of The Eliza Doll is good, but there is no anticipation as it is immediately obvious that Eliza is dead. The only reason I persevered was in the hope that Ellie remembered who she was and rediscovered her independence. Unfortunately, the ending was underwhelming and does not do Ellie (or Eliza) justice.
Sadly, this is just a book about pregnancy and does not live up to the promise of the synopsis.
I was provided with a copy of this book by Love Book Tours. Opinions my own.
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