Perhaps this review will be biased, as I am a huge Alice in Wonderland devotee, but I felt this novel provided an extremely engaging story relating Al...morePerhaps this review will be biased, as I am a huge Alice in Wonderland devotee, but I felt this novel provided an extremely engaging story relating Alice Liddell’s relationship to Charles Dodgson (aka Lewis Carroll). It was especially effective in capturing the Victorian intonation and propriety of the time. I would recommend reading the author’s note prior to the conclusion, as Benjamin clarifies her motives and distinguishes know fact from speculation and fiction. I especially found it interesting that the author was never an Alice fan per say, and her inspiration was an art exhibit of Dodgson’s photography.
This novel is broken into three distinct parts, all narrated in first person from Alice’s perspective. The first third, Alice as a child, has a somewhat sinister undertone, knowing the rumors circulating about any impropriety that may have occurred between Alice and Dodgson. The innocence of golden afternoons is tainted with the prospect of indiscretions, neither party being entirely guilty or innocent. The second part of the book deals with Alice in hear early 20’s, long after her break with Dodgson, and focuses on her courtship with Prince Leopold and her determination not to let her past ruin her reputation and her prospects. The concluding third of the novel shows Alice as an aging woman, content in her life with a loving husband and three sons. It is not until she experience significant loss in her life that she decides to come to terms with her role as the inspiration for Alice in Wonderland and reluctantly seeks to benefit from its enduring popularity. However, this also forces her to face her past and recognize what she thought for so long was forgotten. While there is suspicion placed on Dodgson throughout the narrative, there is also sympathy, and where Alice is indeed an innocent, there is something beneath the surface that suggests a mischievous desperation to be loved.
Benjamin does not dwell on the content of Alice in Wonderland and only makes a few allusions to the text. Rather, it is a character study and a well written fictionalized (and slightly scandalous) account of intriguing historical figures. The notion of Alice as Dodgson’s muse is explored and embellished successfully to create a novel that is rich in detail and imagination.
I received a complimentary copy of this book via the Amazon Vine Program.