13 August 2010

Book Banter -- Alice I Have Been

Title: Alice I Have Been
Author: Melanie Benjamin
Genre: Literary Fiction
Length: 368 pages
Where Stacie's Copy Came From: Oshkosh Public Library

Plot Basics: Charles Dodgeson -- better known by his sobrequiet Lewis Carrol -- Alice in Wonderland is a children's classic that intrigues children and grown-ups like since its original publication in 1865. A fair amount of mystery remains around who Alice really was and his relationship with the Liddell family. If the Alice who fell through the looking glass really was based on Alice Liddell, what does it mean when Alice grows up? Benjamin explores one possibility, focusing on the ruined relationship between Alice and Charles Dodgeson.

Banter Points: Watching Alice grow up and enter into "society" and manage her own house was rather strange. It was amusing to see how relationship between Alice and her older sister Lorina changed as the focus of both girls changed from childhood play to suitors and families. The importance of their relationship is signaled by the start of the novel and the eventually revolution of what exactly transpired between Dodgson and Alice.

Bummer Points: While Benjamin does an excellent job of navigating what little is known about the years Dodgson and Liddells were friends, it left this reader wondering what really happened. The lack of information is extremely disappointing, but also is the large cause for the intrigue surrounding them. The details likely aren't to be exciting as the rumors.

Recommendation: Well worth the time, especially if you are a fan of any version of the Alice story.

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