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:

  • First Published:
    Jan 2010, 368 pages
    Paperback:
    Jan 2011, 368 pages

  • Rate this book


Book Reviewed by:
BookBrowse First Impression Reviewers

Buy This Book

About this Book

Print Excerpt


“I think he’ll want me to be happy,” I answered defiantly, speaking what was in my heart, for it was what I truly wished for him. “You do?” Mamma raised an eyebrow. “Then you’re a bigger fool than I took you for.” 

The words stung, like a slap across my face—had she called me ugly, I wouldn’t have minded, but I realized I had long set a great store in the fact that Mamma thought me sensible—but I would not let her see my pain. “I’ll join you in the carriage in a moment, Mamma. I must find Sophie first.” Without meeting her gaze, I brushed past her and headed to my room. 

Before I reached the door, I heard her say, once, “Alice.” It was not a command; it was more like a prayer. A mother’s prayer? I wondered. I could not know, for I had never once heard my mother ask God for anything. I ignored her and entered my room, shutting the door behind me. 

I found Sophie sitting like an obedient child at my dressing table; I told her to hand me my wrap and gloves, and to try, for pity’s sake, not to crush my nosegay on the drive to the ball. Then I ran to the mirror for one more look—had I ever stared at myself more than I had this evening? Holding my reflection in my gaze, I forced myself to shake off the effects of Mamma’s words; I slowed my breathing down, felt my cheeks lose some of their heat, blinked my eyes so the tears would not fall. I tried to recapture the giddy joy I had felt in Edith’s room; but I knew I would not recover it except in Leo’s arms. 

Suddenly I could wait for him no longer; I ran from the room, Sophie struggling behind, and flew down the stairs, scarcely bothering to wrap my shoulders in my cloak. Joining Rhoda, Aubrey Harcourt—looking very pale and morose without Edith—and my parents in the carriage, I leaned forward as we rumbled away, as if I could will the horses to fly. Mercifully, the journey was short. In no time we drew up to the entrance of the new Corn Exchange behind the Town Hall, where the Oxford Commemoration Ball of 1876 was being held. 

I had to fight off the urge—truly, it pulsed through me like a fever—to run out of the carriage, calling Leo’s name. Instead, I demurely walked down the steps, the folds of my dress gathered in my clenched hands, and followed my parents into the building, waiting to be announced, one more time, as “Miss Alice Liddell, daughter of the Dean and Mrs. Liddell.” “your royal highness, I believe many young ladies are staring at you, hoping against hope that you will sign their program for even one turn about the floor.” 

“Are they? I have no idea, for I cannot look at anyone but you.” 

“You will tire of that someday, you know,” I teased, not believing my own words. “You will look back upon the days when you could have danced with any number of young ladies with longing, and possibly regret.” 

“I believe you’re talking of yourself, after all! Now, ’fess up, Alice: You want to dance with one of those hopping young undergraduates— see that pack of them, over in the corner, the ones who look as if they’ve borrowed their fathers’ waistcoats?— instead of poor me. You’re the one who fears regrets, not I!” 

“Oh dear, you’ve found me out! I can’t hide anything from you!” 

Laughing, Leo spun me about—not quite in step with the orchestra—until I grew dizzy, but I didn’t mind. Looking up into his smiling face—finally he was filling out, so that his cheekbones weren’t so prominent—I surrendered myself to his sure, confident embrace as he guided me across the crowded dance floor. It was such a relief to have him steer me about so; tonight, I didn’t want to think, I didn’t want to worry. I wanted only to laugh, and smile, and dance, and, yes—perhaps even flirt. But most of all, I wanted to love, and be loved. 

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!

Support BookBrowse

Become a Member
and discover your next great read!

Join Today!

Book Discussion
Book Jacket
The Opposite of Everyone
by Joshilyn Jackson

"Quirky and appealing characters, an engaging story, and honest dialogue make this a great book!"
- BookBrowse

About the book
Join the discussion!

Award Winners

  • Book Jacket: A Great Reckoning
    A Great Reckoning
    by Louise Penny
    Canadian author Louise Penny is back with her twelfth entry in the Chief Inspector Armand Gamache ...
  • Book Jacket: Homegoing
    Homegoing
    by Yaa Gyasi
    It's all very well to challenge people to be the masters of their own destiny, but when you&#...
  • Book Jacket: When Breath Becomes Air
    When Breath Becomes Air
    by Paul Kalanithi
    When Breath Becomes Air is the autobiography of Paul Kalanithi, written in the time period between ...

First Impressions

  • Book Jacket

    Victoria
    by Daisy Goodwin

    Daisy Goodwin breathes new life into Victoria's story, and does so with sensitivity, verve, and wit." - Amanda Foreman

    Read Member Reviews

Who Said...

They say that in the end truth will triumph, but it's a lie.

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

Word Play

The Big Holiday Wordplay:
$400+ in Prizes

Enter Now

Books that     
entertain,
     engage

 & enlighten

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

Join Today!

Your guide toexceptional          books

BookBrowse seeks out and recommends books that we believe to be best in class. Books that will whisk you to faraway places and times, that will expand your mind and challenge you -- the kinds of books you just can't wait to tell your friends about.