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After Such Kindness

3.65 of 5 stars 3.65  ·  rating details  ·  93 ratings  ·  27 reviews
Following her fictional treatment of Dickens' marriage in Girl in a Blue Dress, Gaynor Arnold now expertly reimagines the controversial relationship between the celebrated author Lewis Carroll and his young muse, Alice Liddell.

When the writer, Oxford scholar and photographer, John Jameson, visits the home of his vicar friend, Daniel Baxter, he is entranced by Baxter's you
Hardcover, 382 pages
Published July 5th 2012 by Tindall Press
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Girl with her Head in a Book
I was impressed by this book but I wouldn't call it a cosy read, but then neither was its source material. I have read versions of Alice in Wonderland, I remember reading the Ladybird book before I even started school. Still, somehow or other the story always left me cold. There was something weird about it that I didn't like, something cold at the very centre of the story - it wasn't a fairy story, Good didn't defeat Evil, I didn't like Alice or indeed any of the other characters. I am not alon ...more
Gaynor's new book comes out next week (July 5th) - I have read parts of it at the writers' group I belong to - I'm looking forward to reading the whole thing.

Bought it last night at the launch at the Ikon, lovely do, lots there. A nice hardback, started reading it on the train coming back but was a bit drunk (obviously went on to a canalside pub). Start again today..

..of course I'm hopelessly biased but this was just superb. In the middle I wondered if it was going to flag a little because it ce
This is an unsettling and fascinating novel, looking at the relationship between Lewis Carroll (whose real name was obviously Charles Dodgson and in this novel is renamed John Jameson) Alice Liddell (renamed Daisy Baxter) and her family. Of course, Alice Liddell was famously the inspiration for "Alice in Wonderland" and although this is a fictional account of real life, it is wonderfully done. The novel is told from the viewpoint of Jameson himself, Daisy as a young girl and as a grown woman, no ...more
Gaynor Arnold has woven an ingenious narrative which uses Charles Lutwidge Dodgson's friendship with the young Alice Liddell as a starting point. (The Oxford don Dodgson becomes 'John Jameson' while Alice is 'Daisy Baxter.')

We are led to believe that this will be a story about the abuse of innocence - and this is, up to a point, true. However the man whose intentions are suspect in the eyes of society, may himself be a (relative) innocent, while no one in the heroine's respectable middle-class c
This fictional take on Lewis Carroll’s friendship with Alice Liddell – the inspiration for Alice in Wonderland – deftly interweaves accounts from each of the characters; John Jameson, the eccentric academic; Margaret Constantine, now a troubled young wife, then an eleven year old girl; her vicar father Daniel Baxter and his wife Evelina.

When Margaret stumbles across her childhood diary, it reawakens buried memories of the summer she befriended John Jameson and inspired him to write a novel base
Jackie Molloy
1865, a story inspired by friendship forged between a man and a young girl. Inspired by life of Lewis Carroll and Alice Liddell, the genius and his muse!
An exploration of Victorian social mores and the terrible truths they could hide. A very worrying read that turns tail at the end to reveal a shocking truth.
It tackles an age old, yet still current problem, all is not as it seems in relationships between the ages and sexes. The ‘mores’ may change but the misconceptions remain as do the terrible
Disturbing! Reading it of course with the eyes of the 21st century, and with recent cases in the news fresh in the mind. It's a fiction based on or inspired by the Lewis Carroll/Charles Dodgson/Alice Liddell story, and it is steeped in references to Carroll's literary output (as well as some of his habits), but it is also rather more than that in its study of Victorian repression. Very very good on the background and atmosphere (I could feel myself in the "modern" Gothic vicarage). The person wh ...more
I thought that this book was very well written and well structured. It's not intended to be biographical so the characters have different names but come from similar backgrounds to Lewis Carroll and Alice. The story is told from various perspectives and gives a good insight into the patriarchal Victorian family, the Victorian attitude to children and the influence of the established church. It also emphasises the huge gulf between the social classes. Woven into the story were numerous Alice in W ...more
I find this to be a disturbing image of a little girl:
Edith Ramage by Sir John Everett Millais

when compared with this one, which it is based on:
Penelope Boothby by Sir Joshua Reynolds. The position of the hands is different, the smile has become more of a smirk and the eyes more knowing, the title is suggestive and it all makes me wonder where those stairs are leading.

This one seems innocent:
I bought this book without really knowing what it was about, and had wrongly assumed it was inspired by the Caroll's character Alice, rather than the girl that inspired the character. I was therefor expecting whimsy.

A chapter or so in, it was clear I'd got the wrong end of the stick. It didn't matter, however, as this is a thoughtful and well written exploration of grooming behaviour, while the Reverend's character is sympathetically written, I felt tension as I read along, anticipating where th
Nasim Asl
Although numerous newspapers and reviewers have not stopped singing the praises of Arnold’s second novel fictitiously exploring relationships of literary figures (her first being between Dickens and his wife), After Such Kindness was not for me.

Perhaps it is a direct consequence of reading this novel as a teenage girl, rather than an older counterpart, but I found that the relationship Arnold creates between Daisy and Rev. John Jameson to be, from the outset, creepily uncomfortable.

The novel c
This fictional take on Lewis Carroll's friendship with Alice Liddell (the inspiration for Alice in Wonderland) is charming and beautifully written, but with dark undertones.

The novel is written from four perspectives: John Jameson (the fictionalised Carroll), an eccentric academic at Oxford; Margaret Constantine (the fictionalised Alice), a troubled newlywed looking back on the childhood diaries describing her friendship with Jameson; and Margaret's parents, Daniel and Evelina Baxter. At first J
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Gina Dalfonzo
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The book explores interesting topics like Lewis Carroll's friendship with children, and the influence on a fictional Alice named Daisy as well as (view spoiler) ...more
I found it interesting and very engaging. The characters were all very interesting and I was drawn to it very quickly. It definitely such an insight to read something from the point of view of someone who's grooming a young child; someone with paedophile tendency. It was also insightful to read the feelings of the 'victim' . I wasn't too happy with the ending and felt extremelly sorry for Margaret, the girl who 'lost' her memory of abuse.
Supriya Sodhi
Haven't read through a book this quickly in ages! Brilliant story telling, fabulous characters and a beautiful knack for taking the expected and turning it on its head. I felt constantly on edge even though it's not a mystery or a thriller. The fact that it was the background to Alice in Wonderland made it all the more delicious.
Rather disturbing fictional take on the Alice/Carroll friendship. Very interesting and well constructed with lots of clues and references which connect with the children's novels. A bit spooky after all the current cases of child abuse and molesting in the news. When does genuine friendship and interest tip over into something else?
I read this book initially as it was recommended by a friend and I knew it was linked to the relationship between Lewis Carroll and Alice Liddell. It is superbly written and I liked the way the author looked at the different characters' perspectives on the events. I am not sure how much of the book is fiction and how much real but I found myself constantly wanting to keep reading to uncover exactly what had happened to Daisy and why she seemed to have blocked 4 years out of her life. Some relati ...more
I really enjoyed this imaginative retelling of the story of Lewis Carroll and Alice. The author has created new characters based around them - John Jameson, an eccentric, reclusive academic who only likes to socialise with children, especially little girls, and Daisy, his friend's 11 year old daughter. Their disturbing friendship is described from its genesis and although you think from the book blurb, the story is going to go one way, when the dreadful twist is revealed you really are shocked. ...more
Victoria Wilton
I really enjoyed this book, being a massive fan of both Lewis Carroll's novels and the history of him and Alice Liddell's relationship. Many parts of this books were both gripping and chilling with moments of light humour between Daisy Baxter and John Jameson. Sincerely enjoyed but I would not call it a fun and light hearted read!
I really enjoyed this book. It is fiction but based on research and it imagines the relationship between 'Alice', her family and Charles Dodgson. I liked the way the events were related by several different characters in overlapping narratives. A sensitive look at the friendship between a lonely man and children (girls) that we would consider un-healthy in today's world. The book is well written and intriguing.
Sue Robinson
I found this a fascinating read. Very well written and I was drawn in from the start. I liked the way each chapter is written from a different characters point of view, which provides the reader with a well-rounded story. But I found the ending a bit too abrupt. I wanted to know how things worked out, not to be left hanging.
Katy Noyes
Very interesting. Really liked the different narrators filling in the blanks, and the tension in finding out exactly what had happened to Daisy. Felt very uncomfortable with her relationship with Jameson, and was unclear on what the epilogue meant was going to happen and what Daisy/Margaret was going to reveal.
Very well written story but found the subject matter hard to get through. Child abuse of any kind is hard to read. I am glad I read the book but found I was half dreading what was coming next.
A very interesting book. Just finished and not sure what to think of it. Loved Arnold's writing and Daisy very well drawn but conclusions uncertain at this point! I did enjoy it though.
Wasn't expecting much of this book for some reason - but it was very good!
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