Alice I Have Been: A Novel by Melanie Benjamin (Book Review 192)
Alice I Have Been: A Novel by Melanie Benjamin
SPECTACULAR!! ABSOLUTELY LOVED IT
Melanie Benjamin weaves fact and fiction together to bring a cohesive story about Alice Liddell Hargreaves who inspired Lewis Carroll's Alice's Adventures in Wonderland. I think this book captures the mores of the Victorian era perfectly. This will be in my top ten for the year.
I really needed a book like this right now. I was going to try and wait until closer to the release date for my review of this book, but I want to tell everyone about this book, NOW. It combines the best of historical fiction with romance and intrigue. I really felt like I knew Alice after reading this story and I need to go back and reread Alice in Wonderland. It is also fortuitous that this novel is coming out right before Tim Burton's film about Alice is to be released in March, 2010.
Anyone who has read any Victorian fiction like The Dress Lodger by Sheri Holman or Michel Faber's The Crimson Petal and the White understands the peculiarities of Victorian sexuality, but whether Alice and Lewis Carroll had an illicit relationship with Alice can only be speculation. The whole era of Victorian culture is a difficult one to capture and the use of Alice's real diary shows emphasizes the restraint placed on women during this time period. Alice comes off as a real person and whatever really happened between her and Charles Dodgson (Lewis Carroll) could well be explained by the author's theory. I received this copy from the publisher.
Don't miss this one!
Few works of literature are as universally beloved as Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland. Now, in this spellbinding historical novel, we meet the young girl whose bright spirit sent her on an unforgettable trip down the rabbit hole–and the grown woman whose story is no less enthralling. But oh my dear, I am tired of being Alice in Wonderland. Does it sound ungrateful? Alice Liddell Hargreaves’s life has been a richly woven tapestry: As a young woman, wife, mother, and widow, she’s experienced intense passion, great privilege, and greater tragedy. But as she nears her eighty-first birthday, she knows that, to the world around her, she is and will always be only “Alice.” Her life was permanently dog-eared at one fateful moment in her tenth year–the golden summer day she urged a grown-up friend to write down one of his fanciful stories.That story, a wild tale of rabbits, queens, and a precocious young child, becomes a sensation the world over. Its author, a shy, stuttering Oxford professor, does more than immortalize Alice–he changes her life forever. But even he cannot stop time, as much as he might like to. And as Alice’s childhood slips away, a peacetime of glittering balls and royal romances gives way to the urgent tide of war. For Alice, the stakes could not be higher, for she is the mother of three grown sons, soldiers all. Yet even as she stands to lose everything she treasures, one part of her will always be the determined, undaunted Alice of the story, who discovered that life beyond the rabbit hole was an astonishing journey.A love story and a literary mystery, Alice I Have Been brilliantly blends fact and fiction to capture the passionate spirit of a woman who was truly worthy of her fictional alter ego, in a world as captivating as the Wonderland only she could inspire.
About the Author
Melanie Benjamin lives in Illinois, where she is at work on her next novel.
Hardcover: 368 pages
Publisher: Delacorte Press (January 12, 2010)