The Eliza Doll by Tracey Scott-Townsend is the story of Ellie, her family, her relationships and her travels. It switches between different times from her childhood in the 1970s to the 2010s and covers the different places she goes to. Initially it can all sometimes seem hard to keep track of, but it’s well worth persevering.
One part of Ellie’s life I found especially fascinating was when she lived in Running Hare House and the community there, which included some great characters and was a very believable and well-written setting. (The Acknowledgements at the back of the book explain the author’s experiences shaped this section of the book, along with other parts, which explains the realism.)
I was initially interested in reading this book because of Ellie’s big family (She has five children when young) and her sewing, as these things are important to my life too. But of course, there’s much more to the story. It isn’t always an easy read, and it does become rather depressing in parts, because Ellie doesn’t see to get much of a break! It makes the reader think about their own life while wondering about Ellie too, as she questions what would her life had been like, if she hadn’t met Jonah and had all the children.
Tracey Scott-Townsend is also a poet and a visual artist and she brings these talents to her novel writing too. I find some literary fiction can be too “worthy” or overly-descriptive (I don’t want to read three pages telling me it’s raining!), but Tracey has got the balance just right. Her writing is a work of art, but an accessible one. Ellie’s story, The Eliza Doll, is beautifully written, powerful and memorable.
8.5 out of 10