Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Alice I Have Been

This is what I am reading now. I wanted to show the cover, but the library has its big bar code right in the middle of the book.....duh. I read a review about this book awhile ago in a magazine. It intrigued me then, and I made a note to read it as soon as I was able. I meant for it to be my first E-reader download, but, it was never available when I needed to read it. I found it one night as a hardcopy at the library. It is written by Melanie Benjamin. Melanie spent a great deal of time researching all known facts and papers available regarding Alice Liddell Hargreave's life, who is also, the real Alice, the one written about in the Alice in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll.

This book is her research in story form. She has tried to remain true to what is known, and hinting at possiblities of what is not. The axis of the research remains: what was Alice's relationship regarding Lewis Carroll.

She spins a believeable set-up of how the rumors begat. She knows an innocent child who only living honestly finds herself involved in a scandal that changes her life forever, and she cannot figure out why or how, or how to regain what once was. She is not allowed to consult with the involved parties, as children were not considered part of adults consult. Therefore, nothing could be proved or tried, nothing could be sure or not, yet, people suffered. The child suffered greatest of all, not knowing what the adult mind could make of a child's innocent freedom.

Like Alice in Wonderland, one day, Alice, the real Alice, did find herself falling down a rabbit hole and not being able to stop, and not knowing when it would stop.

Well written. I could easily identify all the thoughts Melanie was able to capture and illustrate. I loved that not only did she write, but she wrote truth. Not necessarily, that it was true in Alice's world, but that it was truth in general. Things are not always as they seem, and yet, they may be very much what they seem, just yet not discovered.

Melanie does not leave you bored. Even though she can be verbose, it is an interesting play of words. Time moves slowly through the book, but I found myself so absorbed I didn't care. I have not finished it yet, but I know it ends how life almost always does. A little disappointing, a little sad. I feel sorry for Lewis Carroll, although, I wonder in the back of my mind if I shouldn't. I really feel sorry for Alice, who fell into it. Who was wooed, cooed and courted, without her really knowing it. I feel sorry that it damaged her so, but I think it was mostly because no one would talk of it.

I will come back and tell more. But so far, I give this a very good rating. I suspect this book isn't for everyone. There are those who have escaped the things in childhood Alice saw, and therefore, would think the book not interesting. It is a contemplative book, not a rollercoaster. It leaves you with thoughts long into the night after reading.

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