Barbara H. (Alexandria, VA)
Alice was in Wonderland
Alice I Have Been is a fascinating study of human nature during the late19th and early 20th centuries and is well written, especially as a first book.
Written in 3 parts, the book follows Alice’s life from her childhood friendship with Charles Dodgson (Lewis Carroll) to her unwilling but necessary foray into literary fame in her later years. Melanie Benjamin uses the few facts that are known about Alice to craft a story that is heart breaking.
Throughout the entire narrative, from childhood to late adulthood, Alice is genuine and believable.
Alice I Have Been is a novel that stands on its own, for at its core it is simply a moving story of a life blighted by the scrutiny of others. It is more than a story of a young woman famous for her relationship with an older man. The author has brought Alice to life.
I recommend it as a good read but be cautious and do not accept it as truth but only as fiction.
Harriette K. (Northbrook, IL)
Alice I Have Been
At the age of 80, the "real Alice" of Alice in Wonderland looks back on her life and the unusual friendship she shared with the author, Charles Dodgson (Lewis Carroll). She recounts their visits, his photographing her and his telling of stories to amuse her and her two sisters. Those stories become the world famous Alice in Wonderland and Through the Looking-glass.
Although this is a work of fiction, Melanie Benjamin has researched the times and the events extremely well. For those who love to "Google", it is a pleasure to find the story so close to the facts. What our author has done is flesh out the characters and give a fine insight into Victorian times and the manners of the upper middle-class.
On finishing the book, I immediately went to my book cases to find my old copy of Alice in Wonderland, hoping to find hidden messages about the very unusual friendship.
Dorothy T. (Victorville, CA)
An Enjoyable Read
Melanie Benjamin had some unanswered and even controversial issues to deal with when she took on the life story of Alice Liddell Hargreaves, including her relationship with Charles Dodgson, better known as Lewis Carroll, author of Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, which was inspired by Alice as a young girl. Because fiction is the medium she chooses, the author is able to take a well-reasoned stand on these issues and gives her readers answers in absence of missing facts (I personally like her version). She does so with a gift that makes this an enjoyable read.
Although the second section almost seems to sink into the realm of the romance novel, even to the point of melodrama, the first and third sections ring with mystery and the emotion of family dynamics and Alice’s personal inner journey. The first section is filled with wonderful descriptions of life in Victorian England: childhood, fashion, society functions, and the social and moral expectations of the time.
Diane R. (Munger, MI)
A Page Turner with Alice..
We walk with Alice through childhood as she encounters sibling rivalry, Mr Dodgson a very mysterious predator of young girls, his friend who was jealous of him, a very sad death of someone who was loved so much by Alice. The story starts at the cradle of Alice's life and follows her till she is in her golden years.She never really faces the ghost that haunts her from childhood to her end years. After a very full life with sorrows and joys she finally faces her ghost of the unknown memory she has blocked for 70 years. The story ends too soon for me.
Rachelle G. (Chicago, IL)
Alice I Have Been
Melanie Benjamin weaves a fantastic mix of fact and fiction as she tells the story of the girl who inspired 'Alice in Wonderland' and the woman she grew up to become. This is a wonderful and engaging story that kept me hooked from the start.
Mary O. (Boston, MA)
Alice fact or fiction?
When I picked up 'Alice I have been", I feared I would not be engrossed in the story and would be disappointed. Instead, I found the book immensely readable and I was hooked from page 1! It made me want to read "Alice's Adventures in Wonderland" again. Who was Alice? Was she tired of living with the "Alice I have been" or was she always that Alice? Ironically as her life plays on from childhood through her elderly years, you see how her fate was sealed at age 10 and her life then changed forever by her actions and choices. Clearly she is haunted by being "Alice" for the rest of her life and life beyond the rabbit hole was just as fascinating, traumatic and adventuresome as the storybook tale. "Alice I have been" blends fact and fiction in a tale about the "real person" who inspired Lewis Carroll. Who is the REAL Alice is left to the power of human imagination.
Christine E. (Royal Oak, MI)
Alice in Wonderland?
The author fleshes out the missing parts of Alice Liddell's life, the person that was the inspiration for Lewis Carrol's "Alice in Wonderland". The result is a very good read.
While reading the book one wonders what the real relationship was between Alice and Charles Dodgson (aka Lewis Carrol). Was he simply an artist who became to attached to his subjects or was he a pedophile. There were a few scenes in the book that suggest the latter.