Title: Alice I Have Been
Author: Melanie Benjamin
Genre: Literary Fiction, Historical Fiction
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.
Reason that I read this book: I read it for a challenge through Goodreads and also cause I had heard through a podcast that it was something to read.
Thoughts: It was certainly an interesting book. I had never heard of Alice Liddell prior to reading this book nor had I heard that Lewis Carroll was the pen name for Charles Dodgson and that Dodgson had a thing for photographing little girls in very suggestive poses, poses that some have constituted to be child pornography. I also didn’t know that the story of Alice in Wonderland was based on her prior to reading the book.
But while that was very fascinating to read and to understand the nature of their relationship prior to the break that occurred when Alice was about 11 years old and how that affected Alice and her future relationships with Queen Victoria’s youngest son, Prince Leopold and her eventual husband and three sons, two of whom were killed in WWI, I found that the middle section of the book, which focused on her relationship with Prince Leopold, was very dull. It seemed to drag at times and it felt like it was going to never end. The first and last sections were wonderful, as they were quick and fairly easy to get through and they weren’t exactly pulling any punches as to where they were headed, but the middle section just seemed to drag in the finer details, especially since much of what supposedly happened between Alice and Rev. Dodgson is very much speculative, as any evidence of the nature of their relationship has basically been destroyed.
Bottom Line: A solid book and an interesting read, especially if one doesn’t know the history between the two of them.