Alice I Have Been
by Melanie Benjamin
Delacorte Press (Jan. 12, 2010)
Source: Shelf Awareness
Summary in a Sentence:
Benjamin's debut imagines Alice Liddell's experiences before and particularly after Lewis Carroll immortalized her.
"But oh my dear, I am tired of being Alice in Wonderland. Does it sound ungrateful?"
I had some vague idea that Alice in Wonderland was indeed based on a real girl. What I didn't realize, however, was that Charles Dodgson, better known as Lewis Carroll, knew Alice Liddell quite well and even photographed her extensively when she was a young girl. (I have included a couple of these photos in this review.)
I completely lost myself to Liddell's world, living at Oxford as the dean's daughter with her father, mother, and sister. Dodgson and Alice understand each other and have an emotional connection that, while not altogether inappropriate, often teeters on the edge of an intimacy that could be disturbing. It is this strangely close bond that threatens to tarnish Alice's reputation and follow her forever.
This is historical fiction at its best. Melanie Benjamin extensively researched Liddell's life and stuck close to her story. An author's note in the back of the book gives insight as to what is fact and what is fiction in Benjamin's narrative, but suffice it to say that the author has captured the essence of both Alice and Lewis Carroll's humble beginnings. Highly recommended.
*Read this one while you wait for Tim Burton's Alice in Wonderland to come out in March 2010.
This book earns five points towards The Four Month Challenge.
- White Stone: The Alice Poems by Stephanie Bolster
- Still She Haunts Me by Katie Roiphe
- Princess Alyss of Wonderland by Frank Beddor