elusive miss ellison book coverReviewed by Kelly Ferjutz

If you choose to read The Elusive Miss Ellison because you love Regency, you might wish to investigate first, then choose. On the other hand, if you want a ‘Christian’ story, this might well be just your cup of tea.

For the life of me, I can not understand why a person would choose to set a book in the Regency period, and not include any part of the glitter and glam and sparkle and above all – wit! — that made it one of the most interesting decades of all time Technically, the Regency was from 1811-1820, when Prince George served in lieu of his father, King George III, who was ill. The younger man became George IV on the death of his father, and was king until his death in 1830, so some sources extend the Regency from 1800 until 1830, when the next brother, William, became King. Still, it is not a totally elastic time frame.

It was the beginning of the ‘celebrity’ craze that so troubles us today. Just consider all these famous folks living at that same time, on such a small stage: Lord Byron, the Duke of Wellington, Napoleon, Beethoven, Haydn, Beau Brummell, J. M. Turner, the Shelleys, – Robert and Mary – among others. Not to mention that the major political campaigns of that era were the abolition of slavery, and the beginnings of women’s equality.

Miss Lavinia ‘Livvie’ Ellison is the daughter of a small village reverend, mostly self-educated, with a strong self-motivation to be the lady bountiful of the area. This is not to be misinterpreted as wanting to be something she isn’t, but she strongly believes that it’s her responsibility and position in life to help those less fortunate than she. So, without spending hard-earned pounds and shillings, she shares the fruits of the harvest or other goods with the townsfolk, and elders who have less than she does. Which seems to be almost everyone, due to the shoddy behavior of the Earl of Hawkesbury’s steward Johnson.

Once he’s out of the way, however, life becomes some better for nearly everyone, until Livvie becomes ill–mostly from not taking better care of herself. The earl comes to the rescue, which further infuriates her. Oh, well.

It came like a bolt out of the blue to discover near the end of the book that Livvie’s family was also titled: her aunt Constance is married to the Marquess of Exeter! And Grandmama is the Duchess of Salisbury! All of a sudden, this little country mouse is an heiress with forty thousand pounds in her dowry. This was an entirely unreal twist that made little sense overall. The reason for Livvie’s ignorance regarding her family history is explained, but I thought it rather feeble.

There was very little wit or humor or lightness to this story. Very un-Regency, in fact. I found it to be much more like the ‘reality-based’ (depressing) novels of Catherine Cookson.

First and foremost, Kelly is a reader, then a writer and editor. She adores Regency-set novels, and cozy mysteries. Every now and then, however, she finds something else to enjoy if it has a great premise with characters who belong in there, and fabulous writing! She writes under her own name, as well as her pen-name, Hetty St. James.

Review copy was provided free of any obligation by Kregel Publications. No monetary or any other form of compensation was received.