Mary S. (Pinson, AL)
Alice I Have Been
I absolutely loved Melanie Benjamin's book Alice I Have Been. I was hooked from the very first chapter and could not put it down. I did not know anything about Lewis Carroll (Rev. Charles Lutwidge Dodgson) who wrote Alice's Adventures in Wonderland. This was truly an interesting story. Historical fiction based on true facts is one of my favorite genres. I will definitely be suggesting it to my book club.
Anita P. (Honeoye Falls, NY)
A Must for Anyone Who Has Read Alice in Wonderland
In my mind, the writing of this story is akin to a beautiful woman dressed in an overcoat. You can see she is beautiful, and you are basically dying for her to remove her coat so you can see if she's really as gorgeous as you think. And she won't take off the darned coat! The writing just aches with suspense despite the simplicity of the story, a fictionalized autobiography of Alice Pleasance Liddell, the inspiration for Alice in Wonderland.
The story covers three distinct time periods: Alice's childhood, her young adulthood, and her elderly years. The first section raises the question of whether the author of Alice in Wonderland, Lewis Carroll, is in fact a pedophile, and it does it with tremendous subtlety and without one ounce of unnecessary graphic description....
My only issue was that the first two segments were so well done and engaging that the third segment paled a bit in comparison. It felt a bit rushed as we fast forward to Alice in her eighties and that detaches the reader a bit from the character we've really grown to care about.
The bottom line is Alice's life is a far cry from Wonderland, and I found it just as fascinating as the story she inspired.
posted less than 1 minute ago. ( edit )
Hallie MacDonald (Media, PA)
Careful with Historical Fiction
Historical fiction is tricky. You are taking real people and changing or inventing facts to create conflict in order to make a story. And in this book I spent the entire thing worrying about a particular (real life) character's, well, character. Ms. Benjamin didn't put the explanation of what was fiction and what was true until the end, which made it hard to just relax and enjoy the story often times.
The author has done beautiful research to paint the scene of Victorian England. Great juxtaposition, for example, of the attitude of servants in the 1920's as opposed to the 1870's. Details that are so wonderful they stay with you for days.
This story moved quite slowly for me at times and I was in a hurry to finish it and be done. When I was done, though, I found myself missing it.
Jeanne W. (COLUMBIA, MD)
Good, but not great
A lovely portrait of the life and times of the girl who inspired Alice in Wonderland. Unfortunately, the "literary mystery" remains unsolved as we never learn what really caused the breach that creates the tension of the novel.
The depiction of life in the Victorian age is well written. While Alice is a mostly sympathetic character, Mr. Dodgson remains a cipher. Is he a sad, misunderstood man or a monster? Whatever the actual truth is, he gives me the creeps.
PPM (Lafayette, IN)
For those of us who grew up with the tale of "Alice's Adventures in Wonderland" this is a delightful read. Alice tells the story as an 80 year old woman looking back over her life. It is easy to imagine her as Lewis Carroll's Alice. I was uncomfortable with the relationship of Alice and Dodgson and that detracted from the book. Still worth a read!!
Suri F. (Durham, NC)
A Contemporary Issue in Victorian Garb
Ms Benjamin is a fine storyteller with a great eye for the sort of detail that gives substance to imagined scenes. She has taken the difficult subject of child exploitation and placed it within the context of the creation of a much beloved piece of literature. In doing so, she allows us to consider the life-long impact of child abuse on even the most privileged among us.