Review: Alice I Have Been by Melanie Benjamin

Alice I Have Been

Source: Goodreads First Reads 
Random House
Paperback, 345 Page
 Historical Fiction
Amazon / Barnes & Noble / Book Depository

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.

Having always been fond of Lewis Carroll’s Alice in Wonderland, I was very excited to read Alice I Have Been so I could get a glance at what Alice Liddel’s life could have been like. I’ll be honest in saying that I didn’t really like Alice from Carroll’s world, she was entirely too contrary and complained far to much, so I feared that the Alice in this book would be the same way and I’d have to endure page after page of griping or ‘curious and curiouser’. However I quickly found out that that was not the case and immediately fell in love with the story Benjamin created.

Benjamin’s writing style is refreshing and smooth, and makes the story flow at the perfect pace. She managed to take what information she had on the Liddells and Dodgeson and create a whole story around them, and as if that wasn’t enough she made it extremely believable. I had to keep reminding myself that this may not have been the true story but I can honestly say I almost want it to be. It’s evident that she not only did her homework on these people but she also has a gift for writing. The characters are easy to care for and easy to hate, and I found myself doing both with great frequency.  The story between Alice and Mr.Dodgeson is one that truly tore me, I wasn’t sure if I quite agreed with the connection yet I hoped that they both would find their happiness. I found Dodgeson to be sweet and endearing but at the same time I knew that what he was doing was creepy and made me slightly uncomfortable. I really felt for adult Alice’s plight however, and it saddened me that because of one incident that she had no control over she would love the opportunity at something wonderful. But times were different back then. It’s a wonderful, engrossing, and yet heartbreaking read.

The only issue I had with this is the ‘creepy’ part and that’s just because I wasn’t sure how to take it. It’s an important part of the story and it simply can’t be skipped but if you love Alice in Wonderland it may look a little different after this. Also if you want to get a feel for the world that Dodgeson lived in Google his photography, it’s nothing terrible but it will give you insight.I completely recommend this book to lovers of Alice and for those curious about the author, just keep in mind it is fiction.


This entry was posted in Book Reviews (2010) and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to Review: Alice I Have Been by Melanie Benjamin

  1. i have had this on my TBR pile forever! Glad to see that you enjoyed it! This is actually the first review I have read of this book. I love when an author takes an older story and works from that. Who doesn’t want to know more about Alice, even if it is fiction? Which thanks for the heads up, I will have to repeat that it is fiction several times to myself when reading. 🙂 I loved your well written and thoughtful review1

Thank you for stopping by! I hope you enjoyed it, leave a comment and tell me what you think.

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.