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After Such Kindness

3.61  ·  Rating Details ·  126 Ratings  ·  30 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 Tindal Street
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Jul 20, 2012 Alan rated it it was amazing
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
Oxford im 19. Jahrhundert: Der Mathematikprofessor und Junggeselle John Jameson lernt bei einem Besuch eines Freundes dessen 11-jährige Tochter Daisy kennen. Schnell wird sie seine Muse – er bewundert kleine Mädchen, fotografiert sie und unterhält sie mit sprachlich kuriosen Geschichten und Witzen. Obwohl Jameson für Daisy zu einem wichtigen Freund wird, kommt es später zum Bruch zwischen ihm und der Familie. Was ist geschehen?

Wer sich schon einmal ein wenig Lewis Carroll befasst hat, erkennt hi
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
Jan 25, 2016 Flora rated it really liked it
I've had this book sitting on my shelf for a while but I had been putting off reading it. A fictionalised account of the relationship between Lewis Carroll and the "real Alice", Alice Liddell - what would be the point? Wouldn't it just be salaciousness and rumour?

It's neither of those things, and in fact, I think the illustration of Carroll and Liddell look-alikes on the cover does the novel something of a disservice:After Such Kindness is certainly not a faithful biography of real people. Inste
Jul 25, 2012 Susan rated it it was amazing
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
Sep 16, 2012 Sibyl rated it really liked it
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
May 10, 2012 Karina rated it liked it
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
Nov 14, 2014 Jackie Molloy rated it really liked it
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
Philip S Davies
Nov 25, 2015 Philip S Davies rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I found this a thought-provoking book, although not a cosy read, when child abuse and insanity feature. The author weaves a plausible tale around the relationships between middle aged clergymen and an eleven year old girl in Victorian Oxford, asking whether such friendships could ever be truly innocent. To our modern ears, the alarm bells of child abuse are ringing, and the story is a speculation about the repercussions that might follow such a situation. I found the narrative disjointed, with m ...more
Nov 14, 2014 Helen rated it really liked it
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
Feb 24, 2014 Sue rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Dec 31, 2014 Val rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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:
Mar 22, 2013 Louise rated it really liked it
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
Sep 11, 2013 Nasim Asl rated it it was ok
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
Jul 06, 2012 Kirsty rated it really liked it
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
Oct 03, 2013 Grace rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Gina Dalfonzo
Dec 29, 2012 Gina Dalfonzo rated it really liked it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
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
Aug 04, 2014 Msdot rated it liked it
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
Apr 22, 2014 Supriya Sodhi rated it really liked it
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.
Feb 23, 2014 Carolknitnat rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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?
Nov 10, 2013 Julie rated it really liked it
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
Aug 23, 2013 Meera rated it really liked it
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
Apr 20, 2015 Victoria Wilton rated it really liked it
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!
Apr 07, 2013 Frances rated it really liked it
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
Dec 09, 2013 Sue Robinson rated it really liked it
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
Aug 02, 2012 Katy Noyes rated it really liked it
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.
Aug 30, 2013 Michele rated it really liked it
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.
Jul 20, 2012 Lizzi rated it liked it
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.
Sep 25, 2012 Concetta rated it it was amazing
Wasn't expecting much of this book for some reason - but it was very good!
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