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Alice I Have Been by Melanie Benjamin
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Alice I Have Been (edition 2010)

by Melanie Benjamin

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1,1761366,861 (3.72)60
Member:nyiper
Title:Alice I Have Been
Authors:Melanie Benjamin
Info:Delacorte Press (2010), Mass Market Paperback, 304 pages
Collections:Your library
Rating:***1/2
Tags:None

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Alice I Have Been by Melanie Benjamin

  1. 10
    Still She Haunts Me by Katie Roiphe (BookshelfMonstrosity)
    BookshelfMonstrosity: These historical novels blend fact and fiction to re-imagine the life of Alice Pleasance Liddell, who inspired Lewis Carroll's Alice's Adventures in Wonderland. Both books speculate about the nature of Liddell's relationship with Carroll, but Katie Roiphe's is darker in tone.… (more)
  2. 10
    Automated Alice by Jeff Noon (kraaivrouw)
  3. 00
    Princess Alyss of Wonderland by Frank Beddor (BookshelfMonstrosity)
  4. 00
    The Little Stranger by Sarah Waters (Anonymous user)
  5. 00
    The Looking Glass Wars by Frank Beddor (Anonymous user, BookshelfMonstrosity)
  6. 00
    White Stone: The Alice Poems by Stephanie Bolster (BookshelfMonstrosity)
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A look at the relationship between the young girl who inspired Alice in Wonderland and the author. Victorian morals or perversion? I never did decide, but the feeling of somethings bad coming permeated the book, making it hard to read and impossible to put down. ( )
  busyreadin | Jul 4, 2016 |
Alice I Have Been – Melanie Benjamin
4 stars
Alice I Have Been is a fictionalized biography of Alice Liddell who inspired literature’s most famous Alice. Melanie Benjamin has given Alice Liddell a voice to provide us all with the answers to questions that have made the world curiouser and curiouser since Charles Dodgson made her famous. As she reaches her 81st birthday Alice begins to recall her past. Some of her memories are confused and she struggles to recall them clearly, especially her relationship with the man who became known as Lewis Carroll. She remembers much of her childhood vividly and relates her mature love story in great detail. She describes her life in the Deanery of Christ Church, Oxford and draws a clear picture of her relationship to her mother and her sisters. We learn of her marriage, her sons and the impact of World War I. Every relationship she has is colored by her early friendship with Charles Dodgson and the consequences of becoming THE Alice in wonderland.
The premise of this book is so fascinating. It sent me to research the lives of Liddell and Dodgson. I knew something of the controversy concerning Dodgson’s interest in young girls, but I thought it had been mostly discounted. Apparently many questions still exist, and Melanie Benjamin has now added her own interpretation.
( )
  msjudy | May 30, 2016 |
I really, really enjoyed this book (would give 4.5 stars if I could). One of the things that irks me (well, on the rare occasions when I stop to think about it) is how often novels relies on the fiction that people's memories are perfect. Flashbacks happen all the time, and narrators can relate incidents from their childhood in perfect detail, right down to the time on the clock and the color of the mother's dress. This was the first book I've read in a long time (maybe ever, but that's too broad a claim to back up) to do the opposite: one of the main plot points revolves around the vagaries of memory-- not only one's own, but also others'. I frequently am frustrated by books that don't "wrap things up" in a satisfying way, but although there are some fairly significant questions left at the end of this book, I am comfortable knowing there aren't really answers. In other words, I am convinced that "answers" don't really exist, rather than that the author is simply refusing to tell me what she knows, which is what usually leads to frustration.

So this book was great as a stand-alone novel, but I was fascinated (and intrigued) to realize from the author's postscript how much of it has a basis in fact. "Lewis Carroll" did indeed base Alice in Wonderland on a real little girl named Alice, and though the fact of their correspondence is documented, the content has been lost forever. Certain of the mysterious (and possibly scandalous) circumstances also appear to be a matter of historical fact, and Melanie Benjamin's elaborations fit so well within the historical framework that they read seamlessly.

I have to echo something that I read in another review: I don't recommend reading this if you are sentimentally attached to Lewis Carroll or Alice in Wonderland, as I don't want to be responsible for recommending a book that may cast a pall over the stories of a halcyon childhood. However, if you're not overly offended by the proposition that Lewis Carroll may have had an inappropriate interest in young girls, I think this book is fantastically done. ( )
  BraveNewBks | Mar 10, 2016 |
This book just really didn't do it for me. I liked the prose, but the plot was really up and down and didn't seem to ever really go anywhere. I don't feel like the main character really changed as a result of her trials and there were a lot of things that happened that I just didn't know why I was supposed to care about them. Also, the adult male, female child thing was just... ugh. ( )
  lovelypenny | Feb 4, 2016 |
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Epigraph
Dedication
To Nic, for leading me to the Rabbit Hole
First words
But oh my dear, I am tired of being Alice in Wonderland. Does it sound ungrateful? It is. Only I do get tired.
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I suppose, at some point, we all have to decide which memories--real or otherwise--to hold on to, and which ones to let go.
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Book description
Few works of literature are as universally beloved as Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland. Now, in this spellbinding historical novel, we meet the young girl whose bright spirit sent her on an unforgettable trip down the rabbit hole–and the grown woman whose story is no less enthralling.

But oh my dear, I am tired of being Alice in Wonderland. Does it sound ungrateful?

Alice Liddell Hargreaves’s life has been a richly woven tapestry: As a young woman, wife, mother, and widow, she’s experienced intense passion, great privilege, and greater tragedy. But as she nears her eighty-first birthday, she knows that, to the world around her, she is and will always be only “Alice.” Her life was permanently dog-eared at one fateful moment in her tenth year–the golden summer day she urged a grown-up friend to write down one of his fanciful stories.

That story, a wild tale of rabbits, queens, and a precocious young child, becomes a sensation the world over. Its author, a shy, stuttering Oxford professor, does more than immortalize Alice–he changes her life forever. But even he cannot stop time, as much as he might like to. And as Alice’s childhood slips away, a peacetime of glittering balls and royal romances gives way to the urgent tide of war.

For Alice, the stakes could not be higher, for she is the mother of three grown sons, soldiers all. Yet even as she stands to lose everything she treasures, one part of her will always be the determined, undaunted Alice of the story, who discovered that life beyond the rabbit hole was an astonishing journey.

A love story and a literary mystery, Alice I Have Been brilliantly blends fact and fiction to capture the passionate spirit of a woman who was truly worthy of her fictional alter ego, in a world as captivating as the Wonderland only she could inspire.
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Now in her twilight years, Alice Liddell looks back on a remarkable life. From a pampered childhood in Oxford to difficult years as a widowed mother, Alice examines how she became who she is--and how she became immortalized as Alice in Wonderland.

(summary from another edition)

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