Sunday, September 11, 2011

Alice I Have Been

by Melanie Benjamin

My knee-jerk reaction to this book is creepy and disturbing .... it makes you look at Alice's Adventures in Wonderland in a whole new way and not necessarily one in which you'd like. However, I must say it is well written and certainly a probable take on the life and relationship of Alice Liddell (the girl on whom Alice in Wonderland was based) and C. L. Dodgson (Lewis Carroll).

In this work of historical fiction, Alice I Have Been presents the life of Alice Liddell Hargreaves as she reflects on her childhood, comes to terms with an unfortunate incident in her past and makes peace with being "Alice." Ms. Benjamin takes liberties only as history leaves gaping holes in this adventurous life, but her speculations seem plausible with what is known. I was particularly intrigued to learn of Alice's royal romance.

That which I found creepy and disturbing was information about Dodgson, his relationship with Alice and his future relationships with other young girls, all of which is conjecture based on his collection of photographs. Mr. Dodgson took up photography as a hobby and seemed particularly fascinated with posing young girls in rather suggestive manners. He kept and collected many of these photos that can be viewed in many places online.

Although the trip down the rabbit hole may be bizarre, until I read this account, I always considered it an innocent tale of a precocious little girl. If you've always loved Alice, you may want to steer clear of this novel, because even though this may be fictionalized, it'll still skew your childhood memories.

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