Excerpt from Alice I Have Been by Melanie Benjamin, plus links to reviews, author biography & more

Summary |  Excerpt |  Reading Guide |  Reviews |  Beyond the Book |  Readalikes |  Genres & Themes |  Author Bio

Alice I Have Been

By Melanie Benjamin

Alice I Have Been
  • Critics' Opinion:

    Readers' Opinion:

  • Hardcover: Jan 2010,
    368 pages.
    Paperback: Jan 2011,
    368 pages.

    Publication Information

  • Rate this book


Buy This Book

About this Book

Print Excerpt


“Watch your step!” I heard the creak of a door, then stubbed my toe up against a small stair. Following him blindly, I stepped up, then out—into the night. Blinking at the relative brightness— the moon was not quite full, yet it shone purposefully down upon us—I found that we were in the large open-air market behind the Council Hall. It was empty tonight, of course, although the ground was still scattered with straw, and there were a few permanent wooden stalls as well as several benches. Leo led me to one, and laughed as I sank down upon it, finally able to catch my breath. 

“I’m sorry, truly, but I was so eager, you know, to have you entirely to myself!” 

“Sir, I am most gratified, but do we dare it? We ’re quite unchaperoned!” I smiled up at him; he was no longer laughing. The solemn look in his eyes chased away my own smile; I studied him with the same gravity, for I knew I would want to remember this moment for the rest of my life. 

“Alice.” He knelt beside me; I wondered, oddly, if he would dirty the knees of his trousers. “Dearest Alice, please give me your hand.” 

Trembling, I did as he asked. 

“Darling, I had the most amazing communication this evening from Mamma. She sends her best wishes, naturally.” 

“How very kind of her,” I said automatically, wishing he would get to the point while also, strangely, happy to linger in the sweet anticipation of the moment; just to see the love light in his eyes, those hopeful, thoughtful eyes, filled all the aching, empty places of my heart up with a quiet joy. 

“Yes, well—she knows, now, how very—fond—I am of you. I’ve taken great care in telling her. I’m afraid I’ve been rather a boring correspondent, as I’ve had just one single subject. You.” 

“Oh, is the Queen very tired of me?” 

“I daresay—particularly as I even enlisted others in my cause.” 

“You have?” 

“Yes—I didn’t want to trust our happiness to my own feeble pen. That was what I was referring to, with Mr. Ruskin. I asked him, as well as Duckworth—your old friends, of course—to write to her, also. She respects them, and she knows their great regard for your father, their long association with your family. I felt that would be the wisest course, don’t you agree?” Did a cloud veil the moon, or was it fear that darkened the night, chilling my bones? Yet I told myself that Leo would not be on his knees beside me if the Queen had not given him reason to hope. What could Mr. Duckworth say, after all? He was a good man. He was also Mr. Dodgson’s closest friend. 

But Mr. Dodgson was kind, I had seen it in his eyes; he wanted me to be happy—may we be happy— 

“Oh, Leo!” My heart fluttered, sickeningly, to my feet. And why hadn’t Mr. Ruskin mentioned this to me before? If he intended to aid us, would he not have told me? 

“What is it, dear? You look so distressed—is it the cold? Here, do take my coat—I forgot about your wrap.” With a sweet, worried shake of his head—entirely in the manner of one delighted to find himself suddenly responsible for another—he removed his jacket and placed it about my shoulders. 

“Thank you,” I said, looking up at him; his hands lingered upon my shoulders as he bent down to kiss me, gently, almost reverently. 

But then his lips—his soft, full lips—sought more; he sank down beside me on the bench, wrapped me in his arms, and took my love as insistently as I could give it. I sought, too—pulling away with a little gasp, my limbs limp, only his arms holding me up, I suddenly needed more; I met his lips, tasted his tongue, with a hunger of my own. My arm arched gracefully about his neck— a strange liquid thrill shot through my womb, and I cried out, even as I sought more. 

Excerpted from Alice I Have Been by Melanie Benjamin Copyright © 2010 by Melanie Benjamin. Excerpted by permission of Random House Audio, a division of Random House, Inc. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.

Membership Advantages
  • Reviews
  • "Beyond the Book" backstories
  • Free books to read and review (US only)
  • Find books by time period, setting & theme
  • Read-alike suggestions by book and author
  • Book club discussions
  • and much more!
  • Just $10 for 3 months or $35 for a year
  • More about membership!
Member Benefits

Join Now!

Check the advantages!
Just $10 for 3 months or $35 for a year

    •  
    • FREE
    • MEMBER
    • Range of media reviews for each book
    • Excerpts of all featured books
    • Author bios, interviews and pronunciations
    • Browse by genre
    • Book club discussions
    • Book club advice and reading guides
    • BookBrowse reviews and "beyond the book" back-stories
    •  
    • Reviews of notable books ahead of publication
    •  
    • Free books to read and review (US Only)
    •  
    • Browse for the best books by time period, setting & theme
    •  
    • Read-alike suggestions for thousands of books and authors
    •  
    • 'My Reading List" to keep track of your books
    •  

Editor's Choice

  • Book Jacket: Shotgun Lovesongs
    Shotgun Lovesongs
    by Nickolas Butler
    Nickolas Butler's debut novel, Shotgun Lovesongs, follows five life-long friends, now in their mid-...
  • Book Jacket: Gemini
    Gemini
    by Carol Cassella
    How good is Gemini, Carol Cassella's book about a Seattle intensive care physician who becomes ...
  • Book Jacket: The Goldfinch
    The Goldfinch
    by Donna Tartt
    Winner of the 2014 Pulitzer for Fiction.

    Her canvas is vast. To frame a story about art, love and ...

First Impressions

Members read and review books ahead
of publication. See what they think
in First Impressions!

Books that
expand your
horizons.

Visitors can view a lot of BookBrowse for free. Full access is for members only

Find out more.

Book Discussions
Book Jacket

The Storied Life of A. J. Fikry
by Gabrielle Zevin

Published Apr. 2014

Join the discussion!

  1.  143Happier at Home:
    Gretchen Rubin
  2.  254Cartwheel:
    Jennifer duBois

All Discussions

Who Said...

Finishing second in the Olympics gets you silver. Finishing second in politics gets you oblivion.

Click Here to find out who said this, as well as discovering other famous literary quotes!

Word Play

Solve this clue:

P Your O C

and be entered to win..

Books thatinspire you.Handpicked.

Books you'll stay up all night reading; books that will whisk you to faraway places and times, books that will expand your mind and inspire you -- the kinds of books you just can't wait to tell your friends about.