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Looking for Eliza Reviews

Looking for Eliza by Leaf Arbuthnot

Looking For Eliza

Leaf Arbuthnot

3.25 out of 5

3 reviews

Imprint: Trapeze
Publisher: Orion Publishing Co
Publication date: 14 May 2020
ISBN: 9781409185796

A widow grieving the loss of her husband puts up adverts to 'Rent a Granny' in an attempt to reconnect with people... it's not until she finds Eliza, a student recently free of an abusive relationship, that she truly starts to feel less alone. For readers who enjoyed Elizabeth is Missing, Tin Man and Normal People.

3 stars out of 5
22 May 2020

"it’s a likeable if unchallenging novel, at times genuinely warm and witty"

There’s a kind of vague jolliness to the tone that starts to grate. Eliza’s Oxford is both grand and twee, with its “butterscotch light”, “cobbled passageways”, and its “canoes, punts, houseboats”. Arbuthnot also bestows Eliza, who grew up “poor but not hungry”, with dreams of middle-class life. She idolises the country-dwelling well-off: “their Agas” and the “Russian novels they were reading and the hot fish pies they were planning on cooking for tea”. It feels uncomfortably like a middle-class fantasy of what a less privileged person might aspire to.

Reviews

4 stars out of 5
Laura Freeman
16 May 2020

"a redemptive story about grief, isolation and why everybody needs good neighbours"

If you found Gail Honeyman’s Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine too flabby and Rick Gekoski’s Darke too jagged, then Looking for Eliza is a pleasingly Goldilocks compromise. Or should that be Pinkilocks? For into Ada’s life comes Eliza, a drifting millennial with dyed pink hair. Bruised after a break-up with her gaslighting girlfriend, Eliza is living in a single room and trying (failing) to write a doctorate on Primo Levi. The generations clash — and come together.

This is unashamed ‘Up Lit’, as gentle and restorative as a breeze on May Morning. With Eliza’s encouragement, Ada begins to write again: poems about Holly Willoughby, persimmons and bad TV. ‘I’ve never believed the idea that happiness writes white,’ says Ada. ‘Especially at first, grief wrote white for me.’ Friendship is Ada’s salvation. This lovely, consoling hug of a novel is a tonic for our times.

3 stars out of 5
7 May 2020

"There’s a lot to identify with, whether you are in your seventies or a millennial."

Set against the background of the Brexit vote, this is a novel rooted in a particular time, but while politics never take over, Arbuthnot captures that awkwardness of not wanting to ask people you like how they voted. There’s a lot to identify with, whether you are in your seventies or a millennial.