Saturday, February 13, 2010

Alice I Have Been

Alice Liddell Hargreaves lived an interesting life.  Immortalized as Alice in Wonderland, she also had to live with the rumors of her relationship with Charles Dodgson (Lewis Carroll).  What really happened between the two of them that caused such a break in their relationship?  They were great friends until one day they suddenly stopped speaking and Dodgson no longer visited the Liddell girls.  But beyond was the life that Alice lived beyond her immortal childhood and that fateful story.  In this fictional biography, Alice tells of her life, that friendship and the loves and hardships beyond Alice in Wonderland.
So yes, I do get tired; tired of pretending to be Alice in Wonderland still always. Although it has been no easier being Alice Pleasance Hargreaves.  p.8
 I enjoyed this book.  It was well written and told an interesting story.  But I was bothered by the friendship between Alice and Dodgson.  The author seemed to want to censure it and make it okay at the same time.  The fact that they loved it other was fine.  It was crossing the boundary into romantic love that she couldn't seem to decide on.  It was written like a pure love tainted by the rumors of others, but real life is rarely that cut and dry.  I know it's hard to write a fictional biography and to have to decide where to stray from the path into speculation.  And, of course, much of the relationship between the two remains a secret after the destruction of each of their letters and papers from that time.

Beyond that it was interesting to learn more about Alice's life as an adult and her marriage and children.  She goes through a lot through her lifetime and is also haunted by the little girl she used to be.  Not many people represent the epitome of innocence and childhood and yet Alice must bear that burden even as her life makes her more and more adult.


  1. That's strange. Question: was Dodgson much older than her? Like if they got together romantically it would seem almost like he was a pedophile? If so, I wonder if some of the conflict might be like that.

    I don't know anything about the background of Alice in Wonderland. Was Alice based on a real person, or is that just the premise of this (fictional) book?

  2. She was a real person. Her and Dodgson became friends when she was 7 and he was 27. When she was 11 and he was 31 something happened and her family and he were no longer friends. But it is a mystery what happened. There are some claims that he was a pedophile, but no real proof other then he liked to hang out with girls and he was a photographer who took quite a few photos of girls. It's hard to say, but there's no proof that if he was he took any action those feelings. Others say he was just shy and was uncomfortable with adults. It's a mystery. But Alice in Wonderland was written after he told the story to Alice Liddell and her sisters on a rowing trip.
    This book is a "fictional biography" which subscribes a little to both stories, but provides a very good story of Liddell's later life which was fairly interesting. It was thought that she was engaged to Prince Leopold at one point and she lost two sons in WWI.
    Anyway, I could go on, but this is getting long for a comment.

  3. Sounds interesting :) nice review !! By the way your blog is so cute. Will follow :)

  4. I thought this book was very different ---enjoyable as well; great review.

  5. I also thought this book was fantastic. I read the "censuring" of the relationship as simply true to the form of Victorian England with the way the family simply did not talk about what MAY have happened, even though I'm not entirely sure something DID happen (an inappropriate something that is) It seemed to me that Dodgson was just hopelessly awkward and perhaps just a child himself (some developmental issues perhaps?)and therefore was always misunderstood. It seemed like when Alice did become uncomfortable with the situation it was more because of how her mother and other folks reacted to it.

  6. I've read a lot of mixed reviews about this one, and while I haven't read it, I think that you have gotten to the heart of the matter. The author should have either made the relationship totally creepy, or totally innocent.

    Like I said, I haven't read it, so maybe I'm actually totally wrong.


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