Kimberli M. (Jessup, MD)
Good Writing, not crazy about plot
The author creates a vivid picture with her prose, mingling fact and fiction. The author is gifted, but I think she should have followed Alice a bit further down the rabbit hole. While the first half of the book held my attention, the second half was disappointing. I think the story would have been better served by having more fiction to tell the story of Alice's adulthood. While I might enjoy another of this author's work, this story and material just ran its course rather than taking me on an adventure.
Cheya W. (Vernal, UT)
Loved Alice I Have Been
Melanie Benjamen's first book is a winner. Loved her writing and telling of Alice's story. There weren't a lot of facts left behind about Alice Liddell or Lewis Carroll but what facts there were led to a beautiful, sensitive and thoughtful story. I appreciated looking at life from Alice's perspective and enjoyed meeting the men in her life.
I look forward to Melanie Benjamin's 2nd book with great anticipation.
Elaine B. (franklin, MA)
The middle is missing
I liked the beginning of the book and the end, especially the servant and social information of the times. I was frustrated throughout by wondering what happened and if I would find out or get some idea. The transformation of Alice into a woman very much like her mother could have been fleshed out more in the middle of the book. Maybe since the possible sexual abuse by the man who wrote the well known book is talked about so much it detracts from the story.
Therese X. (CALERA, AL)
Alice I Have Been
Alice Liddell Hargreaves, "the real Alice", and Lewis Carroll's model for his famous Alice in Wonderland, grew up in Oxford, England. Her father was Dean and friends with a Mr. Charles Dodgeson, resident math teacher who dabbled in early photography. Due to her beauty and free spirit, Dodgeson's early work contained many photos of Alice and occasionally her sisters. But the man who was to become Lewis Carroll felt a deep affection for young Alice which alarmed her mother and ended in estrangement. No one is certain why. In Alice I Have Been, the author presents in novel form the life of Alice, delving into the reasons behind the severance of this unusual friendship. From page one of the novel, narrated by Alice herself as she considers going to America to receive an honorary doctorate from Columbia University, the story pulls the reader through the both delightful and horrendous events of Alice’s life. The reader feels the story is truly biographical, it is written so seamlessly and emotionally charged without being saccharine or unbelievable. Going back in time with the real Alice is like going down a new rabbit hole with experiences following one upon the other until the final page of the imaginative roller coaster ride. A very enjoyable yet often poignant adventure story with a curious twist at the end.
Christine P. (Pleasanton, CA)
The relationship between Lewis Carroll and his muse, Alice Liddell, has always been shrouded in mystery. Their relationship, even from a modern point of view, seemed creepy and inappropriate. Alice was a child who was wise beyond her years and the photos he took have captured that look. Melanie Benjamin does an excellent job of blending the culture of the Victorian Age and what might have happened into a fascinating tale of the real Alice in Wonderland. We get to know who that woman was. Alice Liddell’s own mother described her as “reckless” but could she be better described as someone who found it hard to conform in such a restrictive society and that all Alice really wanted to do "was shape her own destiny". It makes the mystery even more intriguing!
Marie D. (Maplewood, New Jersey)
Alice: A strange little girl, a complicated woman
I have been stymied since reading this book trying to decide whether or not I liked it! My recollection of the Alice in Wonderland story was warm and endearing. Now, my head is filled with worry about what really did take place between Mr. Dodgson and Alice when she was 11 years old.
Ms.Benjamin does a superlative job of creating the social and cultural scene in Oxford, England in the mid-19th Century through the post World War I era. But, Alice's mother is almost a "Mommy dearest" character in the way she favors one child over another. Yet, Alice grows to emulate the very cold nature of her mother with her own children! Did something untoward really happen between Alice and Mr. Dodgson? If not, then many lives were damaged needlessly. I felt a little like Alice falling into a rabbit hole myself after reading this book! "Curiouser and curiouser, indeed."
Cynthia B. (Puyallup, Washington)
Alice I Have Been
This is a very thoughtful and remarkably well researched story - I was captured by Alice's narrative from the first page and remained engaged until the end. I was equally impressed by the afterword as well as Benjamin's website that takes you into the world of Alice, the Oxford campus as well as Charles Dodgson. A reading guide is reportedly in the works and I can see this book becoming a reading group favorite as a very highly discussable book.