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After Alice

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AFTER ALICE, Gregory Maguire's ninth novel for adults, returns to the mid-19th century summer day on which Alice disappeared into Wonderland, tracing what happened to her sister left behind on an Oxford riverbank, and also what happened when Alice's friend Ada follows her down the rabbit hole.

256 pages, Paperback

First published October 1, 2015

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About the author

Gregory Maguire

129 books7,401 followers
Gregory Maguire is an American author, whose novels are revisionist retellings of children's stories (such as L. Frank Baum's The Wonderful Wizard of Oz into Wicked). He received his Ph.D. in English and American Literature from Tufts University, and his B.A. from the State University of New York at Albany. He was a professor and co-director at the Simmons College Center for the Study of Children's Literature from 1979-1985. In 1987 he co-founded Children's Literature New England (a non-profit educational charity).

Maguire has served as artist-in-residence at the Blue Mountain Center, the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum, and the Hambidge Center. He lives in Concord, Massachusetts.

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Displaying 1 - 30 of 2,089 reviews
Profile Image for Billie.
930 reviews79 followers
July 29, 2015
Lewis Carroll's Alice books are fun and clever and smart. 'After Alice' is occasionally the first, sometimes accidentally the second, and never as much the third as it thinks it is. This is a case of trying too hard that just ends up being rather uncomfortable to read. Maguire tries to give stories to too many characters and ends up shortchanging them all in the process. The conceit of following Ada when she follows Alice down the rabbit hole is interesting and could have been a wonderful story if Maguire had used the opportunity to view Wonderland through a different lens. Ada starts out as an unimaginative and fairly grounded child, but too quickly upon landing in Wonderland does she succumb to its surrealism. Having a logical child follow in Alice's footsteps and attempt to rationalize what she's seeing could have made for a thoughtful and even fun story. Even interspersing chapters of Lydia aboveground wondering where Alice has gotten off to and only half-assedly looking for her because she's too wrapped up in her own fifteen-year-old-girl problems could have added an intriguing texture to the story. Instead, it's like Maguire started with these ideas and then became enamored with his own cleverness and decided he needed to add in commentary on evolution and slavery in the American South and kept adding characters to do so and it all just ended up a muddled mess with all of the storylines just kind of fizzling out, rather than having proper endings.

I wanted to love it, but ended up just being annoyed with it. This will not be joining my Alice collection. There are other pastiches that work better. They may not be "good", but they're entertaining (which this wasn't) and that counts for a lot.
Profile Image for Joseph Cognard.
Author 4 books321 followers
July 20, 2022
I tried hard to finish on February 29th. One of the many tricks that I had to use to finish this book.
And now onto the review.
"Regrettably, not my cup of tea," Joe thought to himself.
Maybe it was nobody's cup of tea .
"Perhaps it wasn't a cup of tea at all." Joe wondered as he leaned closer to the rectangular object laying on the table.
"It must be some form of nourishment," he thought as he deeply inhaled the aroma leaping from the cover. Closing his eyes for a second to strengthen his delight of the fragrance, he swayed closer and closer to the book. Not more than a year ago in this very spot had he been offered a tasty tweet by the same maker, with such a scent so incredibly "wicked" that it carried him all the way back to his youth. Joe leaned closer to the book hoping to again be taken for such a ride.
When he opened eyes again, he was shocked to see that somehow he had fallen right through the cover.
After a brief battle with the wind and a few shelves, that he understood even less this time, Joe finally splashed into a pool of words. Actually, there were more words then would fit in a pool, it must be a lake, or even more likely an ocean. There sure were a lot of letters. They formed words of every shape and size and as Joe battled to stay afloat they formed little wakes about him. Soon the wakes of words bounced off others and returned to pelt Joe in the face. Though sarcastic and mad the words that the characters deflected back at Joe struck him nothing like that of Lewis Carroll. Though all the old and new characters as well as the author tried their hardest nothing seemed the same. Even high tea with the crew and a back door entry to a Garden Party could do very little to pick up his spirits.
Then suddenly, Joe was teleported to another world even stranger than Alice's fantasy land. It was filled with horny governess and teenagers, as well as a good deal social commentary. A group of odd characters fanatically in love with their town. There was apparently even a brilliant scientist though for some reason Joe never heard anything more than a cough out of him. Though Joe's journey ended pretty abruptly, he did carry some pleasant memories of Ada, a character he actually liked. It just seems to him now that maybe none of them should have went looking for Alice.

Next Review (Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas), Prior Review (The Girl on the Train)
Profile Image for Eric Klee.
207 reviews1 follower
September 15, 2015
Lewis Carroll's masterpiece "Alice in Wonderland" is one of my favorite books of all time. It works for both kids and adults on different levels, and the Disney animated movie did it justice with the ponderings, thoughts, and musings of the characters within Wonderland.

"After Alice" from the author of "Wicked: The Life and Times of the Wicked Witch of the West" is about Ada, a friend of Alice's who goes looking for after she's gone missing and falls into the rabbit hole after Alice. In reading this novel, I was jarringly reminded of why I picked up "Wicked" when it first came out in 1995, read two chapters, and then placed it on my bookshelf, where it sat for 20 years. Why? The author Gregory Maguire writes as though he's got a thesaurus sitting right beside his writing desk (and, yes, that's an Alice reference). He suffers from what students in Creative Writing 101 suffer from: BIG WORD SYNDROME. It's as if he writes a sentence, flips through his thesaurus, and then substitutes every word he can with something bigger and, in his humble opinion, better. He's trying to sound intelligent, but it comes across as pompous and boring.

I lost interest soon after starting "After Alice," but I labored on until I just couldn't anymore. Occasionally his musings between characters in Wonderland were reminiscent of Lewis Carroll's and I'd start to enjoy the banter, but then he'd drift back into Thesaurusland and lose me again.

"After Alice" may work for fans of Maguire's, but it most likely won't appease fans of Carroll.
Profile Image for Tamara.
166 reviews46 followers
November 7, 2015
I'm at a loss as to why this book has reviewed poorly; it's one of Maguire's best in my opinion. Brilliant retelling and brilliant social commentary.
Profile Image for Erin Clemence.
1,056 reviews311 followers
March 30, 2018
This review is for the audio version of “After Alice” by Gregory Maguire, narrated by Katherine Kellgren.
Audio: 3 Ms. Kellgren is an animated, exuberant narrator who is like a chameleon in the way she can easily slide from one voice to another. Although she is so expressive and her vocal range is extraordinary, her voice is also extremely piercing and pretentious. I have listened to a few books now which are narrated by Brits but Ms. Kellgren’s accent sounds overdone and severe. I would’ve preferred a calmer, less stage-performance type narration for this novel.
Story: (a very generous 3) Gregory Maguire takes on Lewis Carroll’s “Alice in Wonderland” in this novel, simply called “After Alice”.
After Alice fell down the rabbit hole, what happened to the family she left behind? Did anyone seek her out or notice her missing? How did Oxford in the 1860s acknowledge Alice’s disappearance?
This story is told from the vantage point of Ada (a friend of Alice’s who was mentioned in Lewis Carroll’s novel), who also falls down the rabbit hole and ends up in Wonderland, while in pursuit of Alice. We also see things from the view of Lydia, Alice’s sister, who (instead of looking for Alice), ends up placing her focus on her romantic conquests while trying to avoid her father’s visitor, Mr. Charles Darwin.
Maguires writes as pretentiously as Kellgren speaks (a well-matched pair for sure!) with pages and pages of difficult language that, instead of being poetic as I guess was Mr. Maguire’s intent, turns out to be garrulous and verbose. This is quite common for Maguire, although generally his storylines make up for it. It was not the case with “After Alice”.
I enjoyed the storyline of Ada, on her quest for Alice, but the ridiculous addition of Lydia as she fawns over the young man traveling with Mr. Darwin, seemed completely arbitrary. Maguire seemed to want to draw attention to Mr. Darwin and his theories, as opposed to Ada’s journey through the rabbit hole. Siam, the young African-American boy traveling with Lydia’s beloved, was also (although adorable) completely pointless.
The quirky, eccentric characters that existed in Wonderland saved this novel to be sure, including the reoccurrence of the Mad Hatter and the White Rabbit. I anxiously waited for the parts of the novel that detailed Ada’s journey, and did the best I could to zone out during Lydia’s. The ending was predictable yet satisfying, but overall I was disappointed. I am generally a huge fan of Mr. Maguire’s, and I expected more.
Profile Image for Julie.
1,327 reviews92 followers
July 15, 2015
As much as I geek out after all things Alice in Wonderland, I must say this book was a hot mess. It didn’t seem to me that Maguire could decide whether it was a retelling of the original or a commentary on Victorian life in the 1860’s. Ada inadvertently follows Alice down the rabbit hole and spends the rest of the story in pursuit of her friend in Wonderland, encountering many of the characters that Alice has already come across. One redeeming quality was seeing a few familiar characters. The adventure narrative alternates with what’s going on in the real world: Alice’s sister and Ada’s governess searching for the girls. The parallel narratives are so disconnected, it’s tedious, not to mention the two aforementioned characters are hardly likeable.

We’re not dealing with the real-life inspiration Alice Liddell here, but the fictional Alice in a nonfictional Oxford with real characters like Charles Darwin. I got the impression that Maguire was trying to be cleverer than what he achieved. It’s as if he couldn’t just settle on channeling Carroll to recreate Wonderland in his own way, so he also used this as a platform to wax philosophically about slavery, Victorianism, and evolution. Piggybacking on a classic and giving it a dark, Dante-esque spin just was not successful.

I received a complimentary copy of this book via the Amazon Vine program.
Profile Image for Erin.
431 reviews5 followers
October 30, 2015
This book was nothing like I wanted. If a writer wants to do a re-imagining of Alice in Wonderland using the concept of her friend that also falls into the rabbit hole here is my wish list for that story:
1. A story that stays true to the sense of dark whimsy of the original
2. A story with some sort of strange, spare, fantastical diction, even if not the same as Carroll's
3. A deeper look into Wonderland with more adventures, more characters, and more weirdness, all while occasionally meeting up with some of the original inhabitants of Wonderland and having new interactions with them
4. A story that appeals to adults but only because it speaks to the child within us all

This book was none of that.

For starters, a shocking amount of time actually takes place back in England. I didn't really want to read about Alice's family fretting about her back at home. By my quick count, of the 273 pages in the book, only 131 of them took place in Wonderland, which means that setting is only about half of the book. Also, I didn't really feel like it was necessary to have discussions of slavery and evolution as part of the story.

For an homage to Alice, this book is missing a sense of wonder and mystery. Whenever we meet characters like the Caterpillar or the Mad Hatter, most of what they say has to do with what they've already said to Alice and what they thought of her. It felt boring and added nothing new.

Maguire's writing style doesn't lend itself well to this story either. Too many big and unnecessary words and too much flowery prose. You could almost see him writing this as part of a People Who Are Very Pleased That They Are Writers writing group. I would trust Neil Gaiman with the source material, but Gregory Maguire just did not do it justice.
Profile Image for Tammy.
836 reviews138 followers
October 21, 2015
3 1/2 stars

The nitty-gritty: An Alice in Wonderland re-telling that didn't quite hit the mark, but a wonderful look at the effect of Victorian society on a handful of memorable characters.

So Mama waggled her fingers in the air, Go, go, and settled her crown of hair, the color of browning roses, upon the bolster of the davenport. A miasma of lavender toilet water couldn’t mask the hint of madeira wafting from the open decanter though it was not yet eleven in the morning. Mrs. Boyce lay squalid in self-forgiveness.

Alice in Wonderland retellings seem to be everywhere these days, and they’re all over the map in terms of style and plot. This latest from Wicked author Gregory Maguire is something quite different from other Alice books I’ve read, and I quite enjoyed it. Would I recommend it to my readers, though? That’s the question. If you’ve read Maguire before—and seeing Wicked on Broadway doesn’t count!—then you will appreciate the author’s distinct writing style. I personally love his writing, although at times it’s a bit too much, as he tends to use words I’ve never heard of before. But in this case—a story set in Victorian England with all its social rules and society’s fear of a changing world—his style is perfectly suited to the tale.

If you’re looking for a whimsical, lighthearted Wonderland story, however, you’ll need to look elsewhere. After Alice is a more contemplative examination of family and society in 1860s Oxford, with somber undertones. The story is made up of very short chapters that alternate between two groups of characters. First we have a ten-year old girl named Ada, Alice’s best friend, who has been sent to deliver a jar of marmalade to Alice’s family. She is supposed to be accompanied by her governess Miss Armstrong, but she manages to escape the house before Miss Armstrong realizes she’s gone, and so Ada sets out on an adventure. Somewhere along the way she discovers—and falls into—the famous rabbit hole that leads to Maguire’s version of Wonderland. Ada’s story parallels that of Alice’s famous adventures: she meets many of the familiar characters, like the Queen of Hearts, the Walrus, Humpty Dumpty and the Cheshire Cat, and all the while she’s looking for Alice, who has disappeared (“Again!”).

The second point of view revolves around Alice’s sister Lydia, who has been given the task of looking out for her sister (she's clearly failed at this task). Alice is nowhere to be found, but you can guess that at this point she’s already fallen down the rabbit hole herself before the story even starts, and is knee-deep in her own adventures. Lydia is joined by a group of odd characters, including a Mr. Darwin (yes, that Mr. Darwin!), a man from America named Mr. Winter, and the young boy he’s freed from slavery named Siam (Siam manages to fall through a looking-glass in Alice’s house). Lydia is sent to find Alice (everyone in the story seems to be looking for her!), and as she makes her way through the streets of Oxford with Mr. Winter (who is looking for Siam) and Miss Armstrong (who is looking for Ada), the three have their own adventure, of sorts, but their chapters are more character study than fast-paced action scenes.

I’ve come to realize, after reading After Alice, that I’m actually not a big Alice in Wonderland fan after all, LOL! In fact, this may be the last retelling I'll read for a while. I was hoping Maguire would do something original with the story, but in fact the chapters spent with Ada and Siam were my least favorites, for some reason. I have to admit I haven’t read Lewis Carroll’s original story, so I may have missed some of the references, but many of those scenes felt too familiar, and even the dialog seemed to be pulled directly from the original, like “Don’t take the advice of anyone you meet here. We’re all mad.” Maguire does a nice job of echoing Carroll’s nonsensical wordplay, but after a while it became tedious, and I wanted nothing more than to bolt out of the rabbit hole myself and go back to the real world.

And the “real world” is where After Alice really shines, in my opinion. I particularly loved the stories of Ada and Lydia, who are both connected to Alice but have completely separate struggles that have nothing to do with her. Ada, in some gruesome Victorian nightmare, has been forced to wear an “iron corset” her entire life, due to a crooked spine, which miraculously breaks apart during her fall down the rabbit hole, leaving her free for the first time. (As I was reading this, I imagined the scene in Forrest Gump where Forrest’s horrible leg braces fall away.) Later in the book, Maguire compares her dreaded corset to the Jabberwock, the monster in Alice in Wonderland, which was the one Alice moment I loved. Ada’s story was one of breaking away from her stifling life. Her mother has recently had a new baby, and Ada, the big sister, has been pushed aside, as all the attention is now focused on the baby. For a ten-year-old, Ada turns out to have a wonderful strength of character, and I cheered her on from the moment she entered the story.

Lydia, on the other hand, has just lost her mother, and is dealing with the horrible death of a beloved parent. Throughout the story she is forced to make decisions that she isn’t ready to make, a young girl who still needs the teaching and advice of her mother. Watching her struggle through those decisions, as well as trying to make sense of the death itself, was poignant and heartbreaking.

In the end, After Alice was a mixed bagged for me. I adored Maguire’s beautiful imagery, and I especially loved the way his characters struggle to find their place in a society that is on the brink of great change. But as an Alice in Wonderland re-imagining, it fell short for me, since most of the magical moments in the story happened outside of the rabbit hole. If you’re in the mood for a whimsical Alice retelling, then this book probably won’t work for you. But if you love peering into the dark parts of what it means to be human, I suggest you give this book a try.

Big thanks to the publisher for supplying a review copy. Above quote was taken from an uncorrected proof, and may differ in the final version of the book.

This review originally appeared on Books, Bones & Buffy.
Profile Image for Chiara.
870 reviews220 followers
Shelved as 'did-not-finish'
December 20, 2015
A copy of this novel was provided by Harper Voyager Australia for review.

DNF at 52%

I tried to finish this. I tried to love this. But I couldn’t do either. To be honest, I wanted to DNF after the first few pages, because I almost immediately knew that After Alice was not the book for me. Instead, I read until 52% and promptly gave up, because as the saying goes “so many books, so little time”, and I wanted to spend the time it would have taken me to read the last 48% of this book reading something that did not pain me every time I read one word of it.

I did not finish After Alice because of a few reasons:

1) It wasn’t what I was expecting. I thought this would be a lovely and whimsical novel following Alice’s friend, Ada, as she tried to follow Alice around Wonderland. This was only a part of the novel. Yes, Ada does go down the rabbit hole and try to find Alice in Wonderland, but it was all very … by the book. There was nothing particularly new to it, and I was bored by everything Ada was doing.

There were also chapters about Alice’s older sister, Lydia. I had no interest in these chapters, or the things that went on in these chapters, either. I didn’t sign up to read about England in the 1800s.

2) The writing style. It was very hard to get into. It almost reads like a classic – a classic that is extremely boring, lacking in any and all emotion, and completely stiff to read.

3) The themes. I mean, I do understand that it was set in the 1800s, and people could be pretty prejudiced back then. But I couldn’t stand the blatant racism and sexism. I wanted a whimsical fantasy, not a book where I’d be cringing in discomfort every few pages.

4) It was boring. Extremely so. Like I mentioned in point #1, there was a lot of journeying in Ada’s chapters, which was pretty boring, and a lot of pondering in Lydia’s chapters, which was equally boring. I honestly couldn’t tell you what happened in the 52% of this novel I read because nothing happened.


Overall, I was super disappointed in the half of After Alice that I did read. I wanted a lot more than I received from it, and was pretty sad that it turned out nothing like what I imagined it would be.

© 2015, Chiara @ Books for a Delicate Eternity . All rights reserved.
Profile Image for Ashley Kvasnicka.
236 reviews52 followers
September 12, 2016
**I would like to start off by saying that I received After Alice by Gregory Maguire for free via Shelf Awareness in exchange for a review. Although I am super grateful and excited for any opportunity at receiving a book for free, I am also very strict with being honest. That being said, giveaways do not impact my reviews.**

Actual Rating: 3.5/5

Hmmm, not really sure why this book has such a low overall rating as I rather enjoyed it.. and for this reason I am glad I don't listen to what others think. I happily accept others opinions and do consider them beforehand and while reading but in this case, I happen to disagree with the majority.

It definitely came across as a "wordy" type of book when I first started it and that almost scared me away and was not at all what I was expecting out if it, but the further in to the story I got, the less that seemed to carry on which made for a much more enjoyable experience.

I'm reviewing this as a person who knows Alice in Wonderland - but like the Disney movie.. so I can't compare this book to anything that hardcore Alice fans might, take that as you will.

I do believe if you can get past the first few chapters and really let yourself fall into this book, it's pretty fun and reminiscent.

Profile Image for Ray Palen.
1,495 reviews41 followers
August 12, 2015
Gregory Maguire, who reimagined Oz with his WICKED series now turns his attention to an Alice In Wonderland 'sequel'.

In this highly imaginative and surreal novel, we find Alice's friend Ada searching for her missing friend. Even Alice's sister Lydia is concerned as the typically odd Alice has never disappeared for this long. During her search Ada finds the same portal Alice had discovered and finds herself in Wonderland. Although not nearly as bizarre as the land depicted by Lewis Carroll, Gregory Maguire still creates a version of Wonderland that will strike a familiar chord with readers. This story belongs to Ada, as Alice is not seen until the final pages.

Mind you, this novel is to be appreciated by only true fans of ALICE IN WONDERLAND as Maguire focuses on not just the well-known denizens of Wonderland but some lesser known characters like the Tin Bear and Ballerina. A decidedly interesting work that fans of Carroll's will thoroughly enjoy and savor.
Profile Image for Cassie.
249 reviews15 followers
January 24, 2020
I always pay special care to caterpillars. I move them from the walking path, and take time to place them without disruption next to the juiciest looking leaves. All of this even though they’re probably rude. Walrus’ being social animals, of course are friends with carpenters and walk upright on two deeply grooved fins. All of this information is thanks to my childhood attachment to Alice, and I would argue most of the “odd girls club” attachment to Alice. (We used to meet in the bathroom and create secret handshakes).

What Gregory Maguire does to Alice and to Lewis Carrol’s famous story told lounging on the banks of the river in Oxford, is such a shame. Gregory Maguire already has the ability to turn fairytales to textbooks, but I was hoping this one would be something like Wicked. By the time I reached the end of the Wicked marathon, I appreciated the retelling and Magurie’s quirk of language. In After Alice, he cannot decide whether he is annotating a discussion of Oxford in the 1860s or if he is retelling a fairytale. I can assure you this isn’t a retelling, it’s more of an afterward (except most of it is during). In fact, it’s not even an afterward. It’s like a second telling, or a bad dream based on something that happened in real life.

Ada, arguably the second main character in After Alice (when she should have been the first), is a “sickly” child who wears a metal contraption in order to have feminine posture and a womanly gait. She falls down the “rabbit hole” while her sister Lydia, arguably the first main character, is engaged with Midsummer Night’s Dream, which I hoped would play a bigger role in Alice because I think the two pair relatively well. Lydia is busy finding her place as the woman of her household after her mother dies. She’s not quite sure how to act appropriately with male visitors, but in the end typically just does what she wants. To us, this looks like her talking out of turn, leaning a little too long in a doorframe in the direction of a man, and walking alone through the silent garden paths of Oxford with Mr. Winter.

Mr. Winter is trying to convince Darwin (of all people to have in Alice and he wasn’t even used, just a tired old man who needed an in-home nursing assistant) to honor the abolitionist side in America with his endorsement. Winters has adopted a fugitive boy named Siam who also ends up in Wonderland, a very strange twist on his fate. When Ada gets lost, her all too annoying nanny searches for her throughout the story’s length of a day, Mrs. Armstrong (headstrong), who believes all too entirely that due to Ada’s sickly nature she shouldn’t be out gallivanting with Alice who often loses herself in the day.

While Lydia is busy trying to push her feminine woes onto Mr. Winter until she realizes she would have to be a mother to Siam, Ada is in Wonderland questioning rose bushes who have polite disgust for the girl, meeting Carpenters, hiding in seaweed skirts, riding kites with marionettes, and running from the Jabberwock which turns out to be her very own metal contraption (don’t worry I’m not ruining this for anyone).

My biggest problem with the story doesn’t lie in the actual plot, but in the telling. Maguire has a way to make every book inherently boring because of his use of words that NO ONE has ever heard of. I have an English degree, and teach high school English daily, and I just knew to have a dictionary “at the ready” while I was reading. It was a huge snooze fest. Even in the middle of a beheading, I just wanted the whole thing to end. In normal circumstances, every book with a hint of Alice, I would politely pah-pah and not tear down, but this was such a sham of a book.

Gregory Maguire wanted to write a book about England’s view of slavery, add Darwin to the mix for no purpose, and host a gaggle of unimportant characters while a child runs through Wonderland and has the occasional conversation that makes the reader just giggle. There was hardly any whimsy in this book. Gregory Maguire wants to retell stories, but he doesn’t want to keep the initial essence of the original. In order to remix a story, the essence and the bits that reader’s love need to remain true. When I read Alice, I don’t want an education, unless it’s an education on the philosophy or my own inner feelings. I don’t want cringe-worthy details about sexism and racism when I pick up a retelling of Alice, I’m looking for the strangeness of a world that feels more like home than the “real word” where sexism and racism doesn’t even care to stay in the shadows any longer and just walks out in the street naked.

This was a book where nothing happened. Nothing changes. Ada will return to the “real world” and to a reality of being judged for her apparatus. Lydia will remain a woman that’s expected to keel at a man’s expectations. This, Gregory Maguire, is just what we tried to escape in Alice. Alice is a girl who does what she wants, who speaks to the unspeakable, who fights the legends, the expectations, the roles, and just lives the extraordinary in a world that wants to keep everyone except rich, white, men, at ordinary. Thanks for writing another book of history where even through escape, women are just stuck one world below.
Profile Image for Donna Craig.
911 reviews41 followers
June 4, 2022
First off, this book isn’t what happened in wonderland after Alice was there. It’s about several characters who as searching after Alice while she is down there. I’ll admit that disappointed me a bit.

Ada is the main character. She wears a body brace, and her struggle for her sense of physical capability was an interesting part of the story.

I often felt that the author was just going on and on about the characters without actually telling a story. Toward the last third of the book, the story picked up, and I enjoyed it.
Profile Image for Liz Barnsley.
3,430 reviews995 followers
July 18, 2016
I’m a huge fan of the Oz retelling, where the wicked witch was perhaps not quite so wicked after all – I’ve read the books I’ve seen the musical and done my fair share of singing (badly) along to Defying Gravity – so I was really looking forward to seeing what Mr Maguire did with another classical favourite, Alice in Wonderland.

Well it was not as good. For me it didn’t quite hit the highs of Wicked – but still it was an enjoyable little reimagining, following Ada as she follows Alice down that rabbit hole. What I did like was the attempt made to keep it true to the original in style and substance especially in the writing, although I think possibly this made it a little drier and over wordy than it needed to be or would have been if he had just said sod it I’m writing something completely different.

What worked? Well it had that magical quality during the “wonderland” portions of the story and I grew rather fond of Ada along the way. What was maybe not so good? The “those left behind” portions dragged a little especially with regard to Lydia, I kept wanting to return to Ada.

That said, I did get caught up in it and I read it fast – one sitting on Saturday night. I think a lot of whether you will enjoy this or not will come down to your love (or not) of literary language and your personal relationship with the original work by Lewis Carroll. Me? I enjoyed it. I didnt adore it but it was a fun read.
Profile Image for Claudia.
2,443 reviews87 followers
December 5, 2015
Boy, I read the reviews and I wondered if I was reading the same book. I really liked this one...Maguire takes us back to Wonderland, Thru the Looking Glass, and gives us two new heroes, both deeply flawed by the world, to navigate. And, we see Lydia's struggles at home. In the original, Lydia is a frame and nothing more. In a way, that's what Alice is here...a frame. A device to collect all the characters, to give Ada a purpose, and to allow Lydia to reflect.

So much is going on here...motherless girls--both Alice and Ada are neglected by parents who are too involved in their own thoughts, grief. And Siam (Audible book, so I have not seen the spelling!)? A former black slave from the US, plopped into the different craziness of Alice's world...Siam who has suffered mightily at the hands of adults, and also motherless.

I'm sorry that some of my favorite scenes and lines are not included in the quotes here...a problem with audible books for sure. But there are images of epiphany that are tender and fierce...Ada and Lydia are forever changed by their afternoon's adventures. Alice? Alice is indestructible and probably hasn't learned much yet. But others have learned how to value her and love her.

I've had trouble with Maguire in the past. WICKED was incomprehensible to me. I know, blasphemy!

But Alice and Ada and Lydia and Siam warm my heart...they are brave and smart. They are those kids in my classroom with back stories I'll never know, who are in my charge for a little while and it's my job to help them see how wonderful they are.
Profile Image for Patty.
1,601 reviews86 followers
July 23, 2015
After Alice
Gregory Maguire

What I knew about this book before I read it...

I knew quite a few things about this book and this author before I read it. I knew that this author wrote Witches. I knew that After Alice was about Alice in Wonderland but with a different view...a slightly different and unique view.

My thoughts after reading this book...

I really loved reading this book. The humor was so sweet...so unique...so perfect! I loved the two stories vying for my attention...one story above ground and one story below!

What I loved about this book...

I loved when Humpty Dumpty said that salt completes him...too funny!

What I did not love about this book...

Just a bit confusing at first...until the story was straight in my head!

Final thoughts about this book...

This book was a very cleverly written fun book about Ada...Alice's friend...trying to find Alice. Ada, too, has fallen into that amazing rabbit hole. There are very clever conversations with a myriad of underground characters. There are very clever conversations with the above ground characters. The combined worlds are tons of clever fun!
Profile Image for Cherie.
1,286 reviews113 followers
December 22, 2015
No more for me, Mr. Maguire. You can write, I know, but that was the driest, stuffiest story I ever read. I did not like any of the characters, and I couldn't find anything to be excited about during any of the scenes in "your wonderland".
Profile Image for Ruby Grad.
504 reviews4 followers
June 18, 2020
3.5 stars rounded up. I like Gregory Maguire's takes on well-known stories like The Wizard of Oz (the Wicked series). This time it's Alice in Wonderland. It didn't strike me as nearly as good as others. It took me a bit of time to understand what was going on, and it didn't seem to relate as well to the story we know as his earlier works, especially the Wicked series. Those were told from a point of view of characters we already knew. This one introduces totally new characters. That said, I enjoyed reading it. He is a witty writer and does a great job of setting the scene and telling the stories. I would have liked to learn more about the main characters, but, as I said, it was an enjoyable read.
Profile Image for Jess.
439 reviews77 followers
April 23, 2017
This book was... fine.

I used to love Gregory Maguire, but it's been awhile since I read one of his books. Wicked this was not. It wasn't even Confessions of an Ugly Stepsister. Actually, if I had to codify After Alice it would be something along the lines of "I wish I wrote Alice's Adventures in Wonderland and also here are some somewhat deep thoughts on the nature of imagination and seemingly poignant walk-on cameos by period-appropriate famous people."

It felt pretentious and largely unnecessary. While placing the story of Alice within its larger historical context of Victorian England was certainly interesting, I'm not sure it really added anything to the story. And ironically, I found myself more drawn in to the chapters of the book taking place in the real world, where Alice's sister and Ada's governess were running around trying to find them (to no avail) without alarming anyone else (with surprising success, for the most part). By contrast, Ada's journey after Alice through Wonderland was a little like... retreading old ground. Which, of course, was the central and flawed premise of the book. But it didn't say anything new about Wonderland, or the original story, within those chapters that followed Ada.

In Maguire's other, more successful works (in my opinion anyway), the central conceit is this: take a famous children's story and retell it from the point of view of the villain in an attempt to simultaneously add depth to a well-known story and completely change the reader's understanding of the villain. This is what makes Wicked work so well. It goes into enormous depth about the political background and history of Oz and succeeds wonderfully in building pathos for Elphaba. Likewise, in Confessions of an Ugly Stepsister we learn that the stepsisters are themselves victimized, and unfairly blamed in the source material, and that the real villain is in fact an entirely different character.

But in After Alice nothing about the original work is clarified. And in fact, as the original is portrayed entirely through Alice's point of view, nothing about the original is altered, since in this book Alice isn't even aware of Ada's presence in Wonderland at any point. And while in theory this sort of "while you were looking over here, here's what was happening over there" premise sounds intriguing, it just felt... superfluous in the execution.

Siam, while an interesting character, never felt like he fulfilled his purpose on the page, for example. In fact, I'm wondering if the author invented him entirely so he could have children falling through both rabbit holes and looking glasses in the same book. But his storyline concludes unsatisfactorily, and I'm left wondering if his whole purpose was to signal to the reader "Look! American slavery was also happening at this point in history!"

Surprisingly, the most interesting character to me was Alice's older sister Lydia. This was perhaps because she feels like the most developed character in the book. We spend more time examining the conflicting, volatile emotions of this teenage girl than we do even Ada or Siam, and as a result she's just more interesting. It's almost like characterization is a necessary way of making writing work, or something.

I feel like a total negative Nancy in this review, but I just can't bring myself to heap praise upon what was a reasonably entertaining, though centrally flawed, story. If you're an aficionado of Maguire or Lewis Carroll, you'll probably dig it.
Profile Image for Absinthe.
141 reviews28 followers
March 3, 2016
This book peers through the looking glass of political and historical events of the 1860s, giving the reader an interesting view of Alice's Wonderland. In a way, this book serves as Maguire's own interpretation of the original story, bringing to the readers' attention the political climate in which the original story was written. With that frame of mind, it presses the reader to think beyond just the fantastical surface of Alice in Wonderland, but begs them to interpret themes and context. Additionally, Maguire is one of the most quotable authors I have thus encountered and he has such a delightfully eloquent way with words.
Profile Image for Jenny.
153 reviews54 followers
September 12, 2016
Επιτηδευμένη γραφή,βαρετή υπόθεση,δεν διαβάζεται με τίποτα.
Αντίο για πάντα!
Profile Image for Lainy.
616 reviews58 followers
November 17, 2015
I was so looking forward to reading this book. The author did so well with OZ books, so I had very high hopes, even paid a extortionate amount for this ebook.
I was so disappointed, let down does not cover it.
Basically this book follows Ada a friend of Alice's who goes looking for her and ends up tumbling down the rabbit hole in search of her lost friend. Good premise.
I was expecting a vivid wonderland to be brought to life with Alice and Ada both navigating the surreal world of wonderland.
That is what you should get instead you get a book full of all I can say pointless drivel. A chapter about Lydia, Alice's sister reading Shakespeare why? Another chapter about Ada reading Dantes Inferno why? When the author finally gets to a chapter with Ada in wonderland it's rushed, not an ounce of description at any time.
The main thing that annoyed me is I was constantly looking up words. Did this bloke swallow a dictionary and want to show of with these big words. I have nothing against big words, if they are needed. But for this book it ruined an already bad book.
There was no descriptive going on. I like to be able to visualize, have that feeling of being there with the character. Didn't happen. I think I made it to chapter 13 before admitting defeat.
I felt that the author just wrote this because he was obliged too. No love went into this book.
I'm sorry to say that I won't be reading any more books by this author, total let down.
Profile Image for Bob Schnell.
501 reviews11 followers
July 28, 2015
Advanced Reading Copy Due to be published October 2015

Gregory Maguire is perhaps best known for his Wizard of Oz backstory book "Wicked" which has become an unstoppable force on Broadway. I haven't read that one or anything else by him but when presented with his take on Alice in Wonderland, "After Alice", temptation got the better of me. I wish I could say that this added some new dimension or nuance to the Lewis Carroll tales but it does not.

I suppose I was expecting some sort of twist along the lines of seeing Alice's adventures through the eyes of the White Rabbit or some other Wonderland character. Instead, we have Alice's friend Ada falling down the rabbit-hole just minutes after her. Ada encounters many of the same characters and situations as Alice, leading the reader to wonder "what's the point?" That story-line is intertwined with what is happening in the real world with Alice's sister Lydia and her father's visiting guest Charles Darwin. If that sentence caused you to shake your head and mutter "wha...?", join the club.

Some points given for clever dialogue and keeping it just interesting enough to have me read to the end. Otherwise, just feed your head with the original Alice and you'll be fine.
Profile Image for James.
280 reviews2 followers
November 10, 2015
Total retread of Lewis Carroll's classic but with chapters lobbing across your reading attention like a tennis ball; one deals with a friend of Alice's who falls down the rabbit hole into Wonderland and the other is about the above ground boring tale of Alice's sister, her nasty disposition, a bumbling housekeeper, and Charles Darwin visiting Alice's father. Also, a small African boy named Siam a former slave) in the company of Mr. Darwin's American companion. The boy, too, goes through the Looking Glass into the land of contradictions and surreal befuddlement. I have no idea what this author is saying or doing here ... except a rip on Carroll's work laced with comments on the mores of 1860 including religion, evolution and civil rights. Like Alice's sister Lydia, you will fall asleep next to the riverbank tree you are reading at and this book will fall to the manicured lawn.
Profile Image for Terri Wino.
674 reviews60 followers
September 2, 2015
I received a free ARC of After Alice through the Goodreads first reads program from Harper Collins Publishers. Thanks to both.
Unfortunately, this book just didn't resonate with me. Full disclosure, I've never read any of Lewis Carroll's books, so I can't even begin to compare this book to his work. I, of course, know the Alice in Wonderland story as much as anyone else and have seen the movie.
For me, this book was just boring. I really struggled to get through and finish it. It just isn't written in a "user friendly" style. The parts of the book that took place with Alice's family in the real world were just so unnecessary and I saw no point to that part of the storyline.
Sadly, this was a huge disappointment for me.
Profile Image for Rinn.
292 reviews217 followers
September 4, 2016
I received a copy of this book for free from the publisher, in exchange for an honest review. Also posted on my blog, Rinn Reads.

There is a definite trend for Alice in Wonderland related things at the moment, what with the 150th anniversary of the books publication in 2015. Since then I’ve seen countless retellings, spin-offs and books loosely inspired by the works of Lewis Carroll. Therefore, anyone writing one of these such novels has to work extra hard to make theirs stand out from the crowd, and sadly, apart from the gorgeous cover, After Alice didn’t really manage the job.

Following the tale of Ada, a friend of Alice who is very, very briefly mentioned in Alice in Wonderland, After Alice demonstrates how Wonderland has changed after Alice’s visit. Which is to say, not much at all. Following Alice’s journey almost step for step, Ada meets the various denizens of Wonderland – the walrus and the carpenter, the White Rabbit, the Duchess, the Red Queen – but, unlike Alice, her interaction is minimal and not half as entertaining. Ada seems to have none of Alice’s curiosity in ending up in Wonderland, and therefore the reader is not exposed to as much as they could be.

There were a lot of things I did not particularly enjoy about the novel. First, the purple prose, clearly trying to emulate Carroll’s style of writing, but falling slightly flat. Secondly, the sudden switches between tenses for no apparent reason – it would go from past to present tense and back without explanation, which threw me off a bit. And finally, this book shows a much darker side to Alice and her family. Considering that these were real people, and at times they appear almost vulgar and grotesque, I actually felt almost uncomfortable at their portrayal.

Every character felt flat and stereotyped, and the frequent switches between point of view (both Ada and Alice’s older sister, Lydia) made it too disjointed to feel like an adventure. Ultimately, I had a lot of trouble concentrating on this book, and it never managed to fully pull me down the rabbit hole and into Wonderland.
Profile Image for Nele.
475 reviews30 followers
August 14, 2017
Jep, loved it.
It wasn't what I expected, but very pleased indeed. Beware though, it's addictive and you'll need a quiet space to get into it (hello loud neighbors on the first real spring day of the year).
And just look at the cover! Who wouldn't want a copy of this one on their bookshelf? *prrrretty book*
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