I received this book for free from Publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.Alice I Have Been by Melanie Benjamin
Published by Random House LLC on 2010-01-12
Genres: Fiction, Historical, Literary
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BONUS: This edition contains an Alice I Have Been discussion guide and an excerpt from Melanie Benjamin's The Autobiography of Mrs. Tom Thumb. 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.
Sometimes I like to read books I know will depress me. It’s a weird habit, but something which keeps me in touch with my empathetic side. I found Alice I Have Been by Melanie Benjamin to be a heartbreaking novel. Alice I Have Been follows the life of Alice Liddell, the real life Alice In Wonderland.
The novel has a Victorian feel to it, so for those of you who hanker for cameo brooches and tea time and manners, you will feel like you’ve stepped into the novel of your dreams. The dialogue had the potential to be very clunky, but it wasn’t. I got used to the “I do so”s after reading a few pages in.
For those who may be concerned, this book wasn’t Victorian Lolita. The whole plot was not centered around Alice’s seduction of Mr. Dodgson (Lewis Carroll). Rather, we see the relationship through the eyes of a little girl who has little understanding of sexuality. I liked that this book went beyond her relationship with Dodgson. Alice was not an eternal seven year old, her life went beyond Wonderland, and it was fascinating to see that.
Overall, for a first book, I felt Alice I Have Been was well-written, emotional, and a wonderful way to while away a hot summer afternoon, or a particularly rainy day. While reading this book, I suggest you do as the Victorian ladies did and drink tea. When I read this book I had the joy of drinking blueberry tea, it’s sweet, delicious and really helped me feel I was within the midsts of Victorian England.