“But oh my dear, I am tired of being ‘Alice in Wonderland’. Does it sound ungrateful?”
As many of you know by now, I have a soft spot in my heart for Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland. I think it is a beautiful and enriching tale for children and adults of all ages. However, not many people know that the “Alice” in Lewis Carroll’s (a pen name for Oxford professor, Charles Dodgson) fantastic story was very much a real person, a real girl. While her life as we know it was magical, filled with characters and places known only to the imagination, her real life was far from the life of her alter ego. Alice Liddell’s story, her real story, is one of great heartbreak. A friendship destroyed, a love lost, a family torn, and a life far from her own…
In Alice I Have Been, we are first introduced to Alice as she approaches her eighty-first birthday. As she looks back on her life, a wild tapestry of love and loss, she realizes that she will always and forever be known as Lewis Carroll’s muse, his version of her that has been encapsulated within the pages of dreams of Wonderland. Author Melanie Benjamin tells this story from Alice’s perspective and incorporates as much factual information as she can. What results is a beautiful marriage between fact and imagination…perhaps a testament to the life of Alice herself.
Eighty-year-old Alice then looks back on her life and tells us about her controversial relationship with Charles Dodgson and how he, in so many ways, changed her life forever. While the true nature of their relationship is still shady, Benjamin does a wonderful job of giving their friendship the due it deserves. Their story is unique and meaningful, heartbreaking and poetic.
Resentment, loss, and an eventual acceptance are what lay ahead for this child of wonder…as she attempts to carry on living outside the rabbit hole.
NEXT WEEK: It’s Party Planning 101…bring quarters, beer, and bunny food.
Looking for a new book to read? Check in every Friday for a “Bee Happy” post, where I share reviews of books I’ve read or other book-themed lists.