Alice I Have Been

Alice I Have Been

A Novel

Book - 2010
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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.
Publisher: New York : Delacorte Press, c2010.
Edition: 1st ed.
ISBN: 9780385344135
0385344139
Characteristics: viii, 351 p. ; 22 cm.

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modboi5 Oct 20, 2015

Melanie Benjamin's historic fictional account of the life of Alice Liddell & her childhood encounter with Charles Dodgson (which led to the creation of 'Alice's Adventures in Wonderland') fails to fill in the gaps left by the absence of letters, photography, & a first hand account of what really transpired between muse & writer. The footnotes are far more interesting than the fiction of 'Alice I Have Been'. A missed opportunity and a real shame.

s
Smileygal12
Aug 11, 2014

Totally agree with MomB96: "The first third of this book was rather uncomfortable to read." In fact, I found the whole book rather distasteful as it focused on a disproven theory and paints Lewis Carroll in a rather unflattering light. I prefer my historical fiction to be about fictional characters, not speculation on the lives of real living people. Other than the subject matter which I didn't care for, this was a good book: well written and enjoyable, if you can approach it as a story and not the facts about what happened to Alice (as the writer states, it isn't exactly intended to be that anyway - though I wish the notes would have come as a prologue that could color your reading instead of something to explain it away).

IPL_Mandy May 27, 2014

A novel about the real Alice! When I heard that, I was hooked. Based on Carroll's diaries and other facts about the Lidell family, we learn the origins of Alice in Wonderland. A great read for anyone, whether or not historical fiction is your thing.

Serving suggestion: tea and scones with cream

KateHillier Jun 30, 2013

It's a creepy and sad look of what Alice Liddell life may have been. Alice Liddell being the Alice of Alice in Wonderland. I also like that you never know precisely how the break between her and the man the world will know as Lewis Carroll - was she willing, is this what we think and all that.

It's a commanding, albeit fictional, account of a famous literay muse. It's perhaps one of the ultimate real world examples of "be careful what you wish for." Yes she was a child when she asked the story to be written down so she could be a child forever but what is this book about if not how no one really has one. Or how quickly one has to grow up or what sins we commit as young people.

It's really a profoundly depressing book in many ways but, in the end especially, it is uplifting as well. It's quite an experience to read.

l
lovely1012
May 07, 2013

Absolute beautiful story. As a mother of 4 children, I could barely stop crying towards the end because it was so heartbreaking. Highly recomend.

c
CrunchyCookie
Feb 23, 2012

<3 it

MomB96 Sep 03, 2011

The first third of this book was rather uncomfortable to read. The second third skips to a later period and leaves you wondering how things will turn out. The final third wraps it all up, finally identifying the turning point between the first and second thirds of the book. Except for the second third of the book, it was just an uncomfortable read.

skylars Apr 25, 2011

Delightful story about the girl that Alice in Wonderland was supposedly based on. Mixing historical facts with fictional accounts of her life, it was a thoroughly enjoyable read. Leads you to the computer to find out the "real" story.

crankylibrarian Jan 27, 2011

What do you do when the whole world wants you to stay a child forever? When your juvenile self is more real and lovable to everyone you meet than the adult you? Alice Liddell Hargreaves, the "real life" inspiration for Alice in Wonderland would have been a remarkable woman even had she never met a peculiar mathematics don named Charles Dodgson. As the daughter of the brilliant dean of Oxford’s Christ Church college and his socially ambitious wife, she studied art with John Ruskin, flirted with the sons of Queen Victoria, and was photographed memorably by Julia Margaret Cameron. Her long lifetime encompassed the cataclysmic shifts in English society brought on by the industrial revolution and World War I. Yet despite her rich, emotionally varied life, Alice Liddell, the keen-eyed belle of Oxford, later Mrs Reginald Hargreaves, the country gentleman’s lady, could never escape the long shadow of her childhood relationship with Charles Dodgson. In Melanie Benjamin’s vivid reimagining of her story, _Alice I Have Been_ “Alice” and its author played an unwanted role in much of her later life, and may even have cost the real Alice her one true love.

FearlessReader Jun 29, 2010

This fascinating fictional account of the relationship between Charles Lutwidge Dodgson (Lewis Carroll) and Alice Liddel (who inspired Alice in Wonderland) is sure to raise some eyebrows and renew interest in the topic.

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