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Emancipating Alice

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Now that her husband, George, is dead, middle-aged homemaker Alice Owens thinks his oppressive reign over her life has ended—but she is wrong.
George thwarts her attempts at freedom, mentally and physically, from beyond the grave.
* * *

Alice returns from a routine grocery-shopping trip to find her husband slumped over their kitchen table, as dead as her love for him.
Glad her strangled life with him has ended, she prepares for the arrival of her adult children—a daughter who hates her, and a needy son—who will inevitably show up for the funeral.
But while cleaning out George's belongings, Alice stumbles across enigmatic documents linking him to an African-American charity and a heinous crime committed over thirty years prior.

Alice grapples not only with memories of her marriage's turbulent past, but with murder and infidelity from George's secret double life pushing themselves into her present.
Will Alice finally gain the freedom she has always desired? Or will George's secrets shove her over the edge?

346 pages, Paperback

First published November 5, 2012

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About the author

Ada Winder

3 books12 followers
Ada Winder lives in California chasing dreams and shadows.
She writes literary and women's fiction--sometimes at the same time.

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5 stars
14 (22%)
4 stars
22 (34%)
3 stars
18 (28%)
2 stars
5 (7%)
1 star
4 (6%)
Displaying 1 - 13 of 13 reviews
Profile Image for Elizabeth.
201 reviews93 followers
January 20, 2015
What a clever and unusual book. A teaser. You will either love this or hate it. No middle ground. I loved it!
Profile Image for Christoph Fischer.
Author 53 books475 followers
February 4, 2013
“Emancipating Alice” by Ada Winder is a book I have been looking forward to read for some time and stayed at the bottom of my pile as incentive to do less promising work. I knew from the first page onwards I was going to like this and I was right about that.
After over 30 years of marriage George dies and his widow Alice needs to come to terms with her loss and her memories. A very sentimental but incredibly well done and touching first part tells us about the first few days after the death and – in flashbacks – how the couple met and how they fell in love. Gradually we learn more about the seemingly happy and perfect family and come to realise that not all was or is well in the family relations. Thoughts of sacrifices and missed opportunities loom as the end of that particular road has arrived.
Winder writes with such an empathetic voice and great psychological understanding of her characters that I found it very hard to believe that these were not real people and Alice not Ada herself, that convincing is the writing and the heartfelt tone of Alice’s voice. I found it all the more touching, yet Alice is far from the one-dimensional grief-struck widow that this review begins to make her out to be. But I must leave that all for you to explore yourself.
Part two hands the story over to George and his perspective, where we learn more about his private life and his reasons for the various choices and actions he took in his life.
This book is a piece of art; with the description of the family rows and animosities and the funeral itself this has transgressed far beyond the simple tale of a death, it has become the story of an entire family and their secrets, lies and problems. The book is sad and reflective in many parts but also fast moving and emotional in many other ways. As far as you can ever fairly compare writers to each other this is somewhat reminiscent of the writings of Lionel Shriver and Anne Tyler, two of my favourite authors but that is by no means an accusation of imitation but a huge compliment from the reviewer. “Emancipating Alice” writes honest and perceptive about human nature just as much as Shriver and Tyler do, so all three are “stealing” from the same pool of inspiration called life.
Amazing. Go and get it!
Profile Image for Ionia.
1,436 reviews67 followers
February 24, 2013
How anyone could read this book and not fall in love with it would be beyond my scope of understanding. I was amazed when I read the afterthoughts of the author to learn that this novel was a National Novel Writing Month book. I have read many, and this book far surpassed the others.

This novel is simply wonderful. At times it is disturbing, always refreshing and at the very heart of this book is the raw emotion of a woman who never got the chance to experience the life she felt she deserved. Fiction can be many things, and every once in a while, can take you on a journey to a place where you forget that you are reading fiction at all.

In many ways, this book reminded me of a memoir. I do realize that the characters are fictional, but the way the author penned them, so real, so alive, almost made me forget that. I was absorbed in this book from the first page. The only thing I didn't love 100% about this book, was the jumping back and forth from one time period to another. It was handled well, don't get me wrong, but it began one way, where the memories were in italics and then shifted to where the next chapter was in another time frame. This was not inherently bad, but it threw me a little.

Otherwise, what I found when reading this, was that I was already looking forward to seeing what else this talented and well-spoken author would come up with next. I would certainly recommend this book to others. It was a nice change to see a novel follow so closely the life and progression of one character. I felt this gave me an opportunity as the reader to really get to know this character, to feel her pain, her fear and her eventual joy.

Read this book, you won't be sorry you did. I will definitely add Ada Winter to my authors to watch list.
Profile Image for Marcy.
44 reviews
July 28, 2014
I won a copy of Emancipating Alice as a goodreads first read giveaway.

I really, really liked this book. Even though I guessed somewhat early on how the ending would happen,it did not stop me from being engrossed with this book until the very end.
The is the story of Alice and George Owen. The novel starts out with Alice coming home from the grocery store to find George dead at the kitchen table. You will find out why Alice has a love/hate relationship with her husband, and the secrets that was kept from her during their marriage.It is also told from the perspective of some other key characters such as their children Drew and Elaine, and George's sister Miriam.
I don't like to give to much of the book plot away in my reviews. I will just say that this is a book worth picking up and reading.
This would make the perfect book to throw in you bag, and take to the beach with you this summer!
Profile Image for Kate McVaugh.
Author 10 books30 followers
March 16, 2013
Very clever opening – a shopping list interspersed with Alice’s inter-dialogue reflecting the insight that her husband has just died. The reader is already curious about the couple’s relationship. We then flash back to the beginning of their courtship in college which already indicates signs of a controlling husband to be. Perfect dialogue!

I've only read the ABNA excerpt, but hope to get to the rest of this book soon.

Profile Image for Sarah Weathersby.
Author 6 books87 followers
April 10, 2013
We meet Alice in the grocery store, shopping while she waits for the appropriate time to go home and find her husband dead. The reader knows she has killed him, but we don't know why or how, or how she will get away with it.

Very well written, but we could have done without Chapter Fourteen.
Profile Image for Laurel-Rain.
Author 6 books235 followers
February 20, 2013
From the beginning, their relationship had an imbalance built into it by the very double standard that often defined relationships in those times. It was the 1970s and they were in college when they began, and even though Alice was feeling the thrill of realizing her own dreams, the marriage between her and George was not to be an equal one.

He expected her to give up on her career aspirations, since he could provide financial support for them. None of her protests changed anything. She could have fought, you might say. Or demanded her due. But George was one of those men that women loved. Alice didn't feel she could keep him unless she gave in.

Thus begins the tale of these two. "Emancipating Alice" takes the reader from these beginnings and the inequity of their relationship and leads us through the challenges of child rearing--mostly for Alice, since George's presence was as the fun-loving dad--and into the later years when something from the past rises up and changes the dynamic between them.

In the first chapter, we see that George has died and that Alice, at the market, seems to have some kind of prescience about his demise. What we learn slowly and gradually is how the entrapment of one partner by the other can begin gradually until it is firmly entrenched, and that only a drastic action can sever the ropes that bind them together.

Why does George have numerous secret files? How is Alice able to finally take back her power? And what has eaten away at Alice's relationship with her daughter Elaine until the two are like cold strangers? What will Alice do after the funeral to finally emancipate herself?

Divided into sections, we first see the story from Alice's perspective, followed by George's viewpoint. Otherwise, I might have simply detested George, whom we see in a somewhat distorted version in the beginning. But George's point of view is also skewed, with the justifications for his behavior on full display.

Like most marriages, there are definitely two sides to the story...and sometimes more than two. The offspring of a couple add another dimension to the family dynamic and change how events will unfold.

A delightful and captivating read, this story was enjoyable. There were some punctuation and grammatical issues that distracted me at times, but the novel's depth and layers, as well as my curiosity, kept me reading. Four stars.
Profile Image for Donna.
Author 12 books20 followers
May 18, 2013
For an independently published book from a debut author, "Emancipating Alice" isn't half bad. Editing errors are minimal (mostly of the "missing comma" variety), there are no glaring formatting flaws, and author Winder is a competent writer.

The story starts off with promise. Alice, a middle-aged housewife, is at the grocery store when she is overwhelmed by the sense that George,her husband of many years, has died. As Alice continues to shop, Winder makes it clear that Alice is somehow responsible for George's death. Intriguing.

The further I got into the book, though, the more my interest waned. Through flashbacks, we learn that Alice feels that George, in the guise of caring for her, has suffocated her spirit and independence through the years. George doesn't beat her or mistreat her in any way; he doesn't even bully her. He just overwhelms her. She's a passive character, and passive characters are rarely compelling.

As the plot moves forward, we're introduced to George and Alice's grown children and spend a lot of time on their backstories. Unfortunately these characters aren't particularly compelling either, and Winder's "telly" narrative style doesn't help. There are many long passages consisting of the characters remembering something or thinking about what's going on in their lives, rather than engaging with other characters to show us these things.

Winder's fatal error is when she moves to George's backstory. The more I learned about him, the more I liked him. Yes, George is kind of a self-centered jerk and yes, he makes a terrible choice one night that has grave consequences. But George also tries, and tries hard, to make up for what he's done. That he ends up getting mired further and yet still keeps trying to make things right makes you feel sorry for him. George is NOT a passive character, and that makes him much more interesting and sympathetic than Alice.

The theme of "Emancipating Alice" seems to be that George is such a bad guy that Alice is justified in killing him, but George's story makes that theme backfire. I no longer bought that Alice was a victim; in fact, I lost all sympathy for her. I don't think that's what author Winder intended.
Profile Image for Nikki.
51 reviews1 follower
May 18, 2013
“Emancipating Alice” is Ada Winder debut novel. The novel begins with Alice, a middle-aged homemaker, who comes home to her husband George dead at the kitchen table. Her first thought is that she is finally free of him. She spends the first day clearing every item he owned out of her house and does not call their children with the news until the next day.

Her world was one giant exercise in double standards. Her husband forced her to begin dating him, distance herself from any other male, give up on her career, and have children before she was ready. Her job was to take care of him and their new, and on her end, unwanted, family. George, on the other hand, is allowed as many female friends as he wants, to work, to spend plenty of time with his friends socializing, and keeps complete control over every aspect of Alice’s life.

The novel has two separate storylines happening. The first storyline written in present tense, in 2006, where George has just died. The second being flashbacks to the beginnings of their relationship and the subsequent years of their marriage.

Winder is a talented new writer. Her novel was thought provoking and heart wrenching at times. Her character development was excellent. Her characters were exceptionally realistic and ultimately flawed and far from infallible. Alice is by no means free of blame, but it would be impossible to feel no empathy towards her and her situation.

There were some editing issues. Problems with grammar, punctuation, and other small errors but overall was a very good read. The reader does not truly find out what happened until the last few pages of the book. With time and more experience Winder is going to be an excellent writer. This was a very well written debut novel.

I recommend it.
Profile Image for PacaLipstick Gramma.
503 reviews29 followers
June 8, 2013
An interesting book. I thought the writing was very good. Very realistic. For content and writing the author deserves 5 stars. But for me personally, it was the gnawing in my gut, the uneasiness that I felt about the subject matter that I rated it 3 stars.

I thought that the author did an excellent job on how Alice was manipulated by George. At times it was difficult to read about how he threatened her and controlled her, but as a classic abuser, he was free to do what he wanted, when he wanted, and she was to never question him about his behavior. What was absolutely forbidden for her, the rules imposed by George, did not apply to him. I wanted to reach into the book and tell Alice to flee.

I don't think Alice did her children any favors by staying in the marriage. I was disturbed that the daughter, Elaine, put her father on a pedestal. As an educated and adult woman I don't know how she could not see his "true colors".

Again, for me personally, it was difficult to read. I am going out on a limb here ~ for those who have lived this life ~ it was difficult subject matter. I think if you have never lived this kind of life ~ it provides insight. And a lot of times, the emotional abuse is only the tip of the iceberg. The threat is very real. "If you leave me, I will have to kill you."
Profile Image for Joanne.
104 reviews1 follower
February 11, 2013
I received Emancipating Alice, by Ada Winder, as a Goodreds First Reads giveaway winner. I enjoyed the book & liked the detailed characters. It was sad in more than the traditional way. I could relate to parts of it. I could even understand some of the decisons the characteras made. Part of me just wanted the primary characters to step up and be honest and make the changes everyone who reads the book is probably hoping they'll make. It wasn't exciting, psychologically thrilling or mysterious, but regretfully, it seemed like reality for many people.
Profile Image for Carla.
1,180 reviews19 followers
April 5, 2015
Wonderful debut novel that opens with Alice in a grocery store wondering if her husband at home is dead. She just has a "feeling". We then learn about Alice's life with her husband. The first part of the book is from Alice's viewpoint, the second part from her husband George's. The character detail is outstanding! We quickly get to know (or do we?) the main characters in the story and learn about how they met and their married life. A captivating book.
Profile Image for Robbi Leah  Freeman.
466 reviews6 followers
September 2, 2014
A story about a wife who gives up hopes and dreams for a husband. First I knew the ending at the beginning. I hated the characters. I read it all to see where author was going but it just led to what I already knew. Just my opinion, lots of others liked it.
Displaying 1 - 13 of 13 reviews

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