Alice I Have Been (by Melanie Benjamin) c. 2009

Alice I Have Been by Melanie Benjamin
c. 2009
[Adult Fiction]
[Adult Audiobook]
[Electronic Resource (MyMediaMall eBook)]
[Electronic Resource (MyMediaMall eAudiobook)]

Almost everyone knows Alice Liddell Hargreaves as the real Alice in Wonderland and the muse of Lewis Carroll. Now approaching her 81st birthday, Alice reflects on her remarkable life and the strange and scandalous circumstances of her friendship with Lewis Carroll.

This novel doesn’t quite deliver on the high expectations it generates. Benjamin is fairly adept at developing the character of Alice, but the overall narrative lacks the focus and consistency it needs. There was also some struggle in building believable suspense. Lewis Carroll and the Liddell family had some sort of falling out that resulted in the two parties severing ties. Alice knows that she was somehow involved, but can’t remember what happened. This device comes off as more contrived than effective. The second half of the book was much stronger than the first because Benjamin moves Alice’s developmental journey to the forefront of the narrative. The psychology of the character is rendered very well, especially in regards to her emerging public role as Alice in Wonderland.

If you enjoyed Alice I Have Been, you might also like Gatsby’s Girl by Caroline Preston, Romancing Miss Brontë by Judith Gael, Drood by Dan Simmons, and Mistress Shakespeare by Karen Harper. Lake Bluff Library also owns both Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland and Through the Looking Glass by Lewis Carroll. If you’re interested in exploring the world of Wonderland, you might also enjoy Frank Beddor’s The Looking Glass Wars. If you’d like to read some nonfiction about Lewis Carroll, try Lewis Carroll in Numberland by Robin J. Wilson.

Pros: Contains some interesting psychological development.

Cons: Lacks the polish it deserves.

Review by Martha

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