Anne G. (MS)
Sure To Be A Bestseller
A multi-layered look at the life of the subject of Alice in Wonderland and that of its creator, Lewis Carroll. This is a book that will have readers thinking about Alice and Lewis Carroll long after they've closed the covers. Both were fascinating, if flawed, characters.
Karla S. (Dana Point, CA)
Alice In Wonderland Indeed
"Alice I have Been" is Alice in Wonderland indeed. A little girl is living a charmed life and doesn't always sort fact from wishful thinking.
This is a story of obsession, blackmail, rivalry, love...it runs the gamut of emotions. When Mr. Dodgsen tells a story to Alice and her sisters Alice begs him to write down "her story". Dodgsen becomes too familiar with Alice and the visits and friendship are stopped. Throughout her life Alice is reluctant to read "her story" as she is afraid of the person she will find. The author captures the scene and customs of Victorian England. This bittersweet novel will keep you turning the pages.
DawnEllen J. (Riverside, CA)
Reflections on Alice
Melanie Benjamin weaves historical anecdotes, her impressions gleaned from an art exhibit of Dodgson's photography, and her incredible imagination to take the reader on a journey beyond the looking glass into the reflections of “the real Alice.” Looking back over her 80 years as the most famous little girl in England, Alice Liddell Hargreaves struggles to come to terms with her relationship with Charles Dodgson and the story she urges him to write down for her. Benjamin skillfully captures the voice of Alice at each of three stages in her life and gives the reader no more information than Alice herself would have had or let herself acknowledge. The result is a highly engaging, very satisfying narrative adventure that sensitively and believably provides a richer perspective on this famous literary duo.
Mary Lou C. (Shenandoah Junction, WV)
Lewis Carroll, a Pedophile?
Although the author did a wonderful job of detailing life in Victorian England, I found the story difficult to follow, wondering what was real and what wasn't. The reader is to form his/her own conclusions as to what really happened. But I, for one, was uncomfortable with the evidence, or lack of. In the end, I had more questions than answers. I didn't get it.
Carole C. (Upper Marlboro, MD)
This Side of the Looking Glass
In the author's note following "Alice I Have Been," Melanie Benjamin recalls a Chicago exhibit of "Dreaming in Pictures: The Photography of Lewis Carroll." There she saw the photograph of seven-year-old Alice Liddell -- a child scantily clad in gypsy-like rags whose eyes were worldly, wise, and those of a woman. Haunted by that photo and intrigued by the girl/woman who had inspired "Alice's Adventures in Wonderland," Benjamin thought she had a story. With the added mystery of an abrupt end of a long-term friendship between the Rev. Charles Dodgson (the real name of Lewis Carroll) and the Liddell family in 1863, when he was thirty-one and Alice eleven, she knew she had a story.
Weaving fact and fiction, Benjamin produces the rich tapestry that was Alice Pleasance Liddell Hargreaves' life. Told in the first person by eighty-year-old Alice, the story of her life unfolds -- from the days of childhood wonder in Oxford through courtship with a prince; from marriage and motherhood to war, loss, and grief; from wealth to genteel poverty and deliverance; from resenting being "the Alice" to extolling "Alice I am, Alice I will be. Alice I have been."
Masterfully written, this "Victorian" novel will satisfy not only those who have been charmed by "Alice's Adventures in Wonderland" but any reader who enjoys history, mystery, and a journey through life's vagaries with a heroine whose admonition, borrowed from Lewis Carroll, is "May we be happy."
Barbara E. (rockville, MD)
Not so innocent Alice?
I really loved this book. The author grabbed my attention from page 1 and held it until the end. Her writing is lyrical and evocative, especially in the sections dealing with the very young Alice. The author is so perceptive about a young girl on cusp of adolescence and the thrills and fears and confusion that she goes through as she experiences her first crush and wants to grow up but is reluctant to leave innocence and childhood behind. The bewildering array of emotions that this very young Alice experienced ranging from happiness to discomfort to deep sorrow are wonderfully evoked. All of the Alices presented in this book have distinctive voices and personalities that ring true.
There is much here for book club discussion, especially the issue of Dodgson's attachment to little girls. Was it innocent? Is the discomfort experienced looking at his photos and reading his books carefully a product of our 21st-century sensibilities or does it transcend time and place?
I highly recommend this book.
Doreen P. (Hamilton, MT)
Alice I Have Been
I simply loved this book! The author effectively weaves a fictional tale based on factual historical information and creates a wonderful and very believable account of what may have happened to the real Alice in Wonderland. I found the historical information fascinating and it made me want to do more research into the lives of both Alice Liddell and the Rev. Charles Lutwidge Dodgson, aka Lewis Carroll.
Although Lewis Carroll bordered on pedophilia, I believe that he never crossed the line by actually committing any lewd acts against children. This book reinforces that belief. The author never resorts to far fetched or unreasonable antics in portraying the characters, and always stays true to the Victorian setting.
Alice In Wonderland has always been one of my favorite childhood books. I never knew the facts about Lewis Carroll or who he based his stories on. Now I do! This book also made me want to re-read Alice In Wonderland with a fresh viewpoint.