Alice I Have Been
By Melanie Benjamin
(Bantam, Paperback, 9780385344142, 400pp.)
Publication Date: December 21, 2010
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Part love story, part literary mystery, Melanie Benjamin’s spellbinding historical novel leads readers on an unforgettable journey down the rabbit hole, to tell the story of a woman whose own life became the stuff of legend. Her name is Alice Liddell Hargreaves, but to the world she’ll always be known simply as “Alice,” the girl who followed the White Rabbit into a wonderland of Mad Hatters, Queens of Hearts, and Cheshire Cats. Now, nearing her eighty-first birthday, she looks back on a life of intense passion, great privilege, and greater tragedy. First as a young woman, then as a wife, mother, and widow, she’ll experience adventures the likes of which not even her fictional counterpart could have imagined. Yet from glittering balls and royal romances to a world plunged into war, she’ll always be the same determined, undaunted Alice who, at ten years old, urged a shy, stuttering Oxford professor to write down one of his fanciful stories, thus changing her life forever.
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Melanie Benjamin lives in Illinois, where she is at work on her next novel.
Susan Stamberg gathers recommendations from booksellers Rona Brinlee, Lucia Silva and Daniel Goldin. Their selections for summertime reading include books about small-town America, a polygamist father in over his head, and a postmistress in New England during World War II. More at NPR.org
Melanie Benjamin's Alice I Have Been imagines the life and regrets of Alice Liddell, the real-life girl who served as the inspiration for Lewis Carroll's Alice's Adventures in Wonderland. Alice knew Carroll as Charles Dodgson, a neighbor who told her stories and photographed her as a young girl. More at NPR.org
Alice, from Alice In Wonderland, is one of literature's most beloved heroines for restless girl readers and feminist scholars. The new book Alice I Have Been tells the story of Alice Liddell, the child muse for Lewis Carroll's character. More at NPR.org
- What social forces motivate each of the characters to deny Dodgson's inappropriate attention to Alice?
“This is magic!” —Diana Gabaldon
“Excellent . . . a finely wrought portrait of Alice that seamlessly blends fact with fiction. This is book club gold.”—Publishers Weekly (starred review)
“A seamless tale of love, loss, and myth . . . storytelling at its finest.”—Sarah Addison Allen, author of The Girl Who Chased the Moon
“A smashing tale—mostly true—of the overlap of childhood and womanhood, a compelling mystery, an exposé of Victorian mores, an exploration of love that came too soon and too late, an explosive trail of emotions and human foibles, a heartbreak—written with compassion and grace: I loved it!” —Susan Vreeland, author of Clara and Mr. Tiffany
“The novel doesn’t just fill in the blanks of a literary life, but tells the story of someone who was more than a muse; Alice may have been immortalized as a girl but, as Benjamin imagines, she grew up to be a great woman.”—New York Post