Alice I Have Been: A Novel
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Published:
Random House Publishing Group 2010
Accelerated Reader:
IL: UG - BL: 6.5 - AR Pts: 16
Status:
Available from OverDrive
Description

BONUS: This edition contains an Alice I Have Been discussion guide and an excerpt from Melanie Benjamin's The Autobiography of Mrs. Tom Thumb. 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.

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Format:
Adobe EPUB eBook, Kindle Book, OverDrive Read
Street Date:
01/12/2010
Language:
English
ISBN:
9780440339540
ASIN:
B0030CMLI4
Accelerated Reader:
UG
Level 6.5, 16 Points
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Date Updated:
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      • value: Fiction
      • value: 19th Century
      • value: Saga
      • value: Historical Fiction
      • value: mystery
      • value: Drama
      • value: England
      • value: Lewis Carroll
      • value: Wonderland
      • value: literature
      • value: fantasy
      • value: biographical fiction
      • value: historical novels
      • value: books about books
      • value: historical fiction novel
      • value: alice liddell
      • value: literary historical fiction
      • value: historical fiction novels
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      • value: new york times best sellers
      • value: best sellers list new york times
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        Melanie Benjaminlives in Illinois, where she is at work on her next novel.

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title
Alice I Have Been
fullDescription

BONUS: This edition contains an Alice I Have Been discussion guide and an excerpt from Melanie Benjamin's The Autobiography of Mrs. Tom Thumb.

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.

reviews
      • premium: False
      • source: Publishers Weekly, starred reveiw
      • content:

        "Benjamin offers a finely wrought portrait of Alice that seamlessly blends fact with fiction. This is book club gold."

      • premium: True
      • source: Publisher's Weekly
      • content:

        Starred review from October 12, 2009
        Benjamin draws on one of the most enduring relationships in children’s literature in her excellent debut, spinning out the heartbreaking story of Alice from Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland
        . Her research into the lives of Charles Dodgson (aka Lewis Carroll) and the family of Alice Liddell is apparent as she takes circumstances shrouded in mystery and colors in the spaces to reveal a vibrant and passionate Alice. Born into a Victorian family of privilege, free-spirited Alice catches the attention of family friend Dodgson and serves as the muse for both his photography and writing. Their bond, however, is misunderstood by Alice’s family, and though she is forced to sever their friendship, she is forever haunted by their connection as her life becomes something of a chain of heartbreaks. As an adult, Alice tries to escape her past, but it is only when she finally embraces it that she truly finds the happiness that eluded her. Focusing on three eras in Alice’s life, Benjamin offers a finely wrought portrait of Alice that seamlessly blends fact with fiction. This is book club gold.

      • premium: True
      • source: Kirkus
      • content:

        November 15, 2009
        Benjamin's debut imagines Alice Liddell's experiences before and particularly after Lewis Carroll immortalized her.

        She was born in 1852, daughter of the dean of Christ Church College, Oxford; she died in 1934, at the height of the Great Depression. But Alice's life reached its literary apex in 1862, when on a summer afternoon Oxford mathematics don Charles Dodgson entertained the Liddell sisters with a tale of Alice falling down the rabbit's hole, later to be the inaugural event in his hugely successful book, Alice's Adventures in Wonderland. This well-documented afternoon and the girl's charged relationship with Dodgson are described by the author as defining experiences for Alice, both magical and traumatic, overshadowing the subsequent 70 years. Benjamin's adult Alice grapples with a repressed memory; her one-dimensional Dodgson is a daydreaming, stuttering loser. The relationship offered here, that of a pedophile and his victim, is too predictable and simplistic; the sexual mores of Victorian England and of Dodgson himself were more complicated. The novel becomes richer and increasingly assured after the"break," when Dodgson is forbidden to see Alice again. She grows to maturity in Oxford's culturally privileged enclave, is wooed by Queen Victoria's son, Prince Leopold (barred from marrying her in part because of the unspoken, lingering scandal concerning Dodgson), then finally marries and bears three boys, two of them killed in World War I. In the end, this rigid Victorian lady, at a loss in the 20th century, recovers her memory and finally finds what her life has lacked—acceptance and self-love.

        Historical fiction hampered by a 21st-century perspective on Victorian values.

        (COPYRIGHT (2009) KIRKUS REVIEWS/NIELSEN BUSINESS MEDIA, INC. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.)

      • premium: True
      • source: Library Journal
      • content:

        October 15, 2009
        In this historical novel about the real-life Alice in "Alice in Wonderland", 80-year-old Alice Hargreaves looks back on three periods of her life: her Victorian childhood as the daughter of an Oxford don and the special friend of mathematics tutor Charles Dodgson, later known as Lewis Carroll; her young adult romance with Prince Leopold and its painful conclusion; and her marriage to country gentleman Reginald Hargreaves and the raising of their three sons, who eventually face the horrors of World War I. Throughout it all, Alice is burdened by her fictional identity and by having captivated the odd, stuttering Mr. Dodgson as a child. The jealousy and rumors caused by his intense fondness for Alice besmirch both their reputations for years to come. VERDICT Benjamin's novel imagines the truth behind the mystery of Lewis Carroll's relationship with his child muse, Alice Liddell. Although the shadow of inappropriateness always lingers, this is truly a love story, albeit one that could happily exist only in a fairy tale. This novel will have wide appeal as it includes history, romance, literature, and a great deal of suspense. [See Prepub Alert, "LJ" 9/1/09.]Joy Humphrey, Pepperdine Univ. Law Lib., Malibu, CA

        Copyright 2009 Library Journal, LLC Used with permission.

      • premium: True
      • source: School Library Journal
      • content:

        February 1, 2010
        Adult/High School-In this novel, Benjamin examines the life of Alice Liddell Hargreaves, the inspiration for Lewis Carroll's Alice. As she explains, Alice and her sisters are the "princesses" of Oxford and are expected to act in a manner befitting nobility. At the age of seven, Alice Liddell develops a close, intimate relationship with Charles Dodgson, an instructor at Oxford, who will go on to publish as Lewis Carroll. She serves as his muse until the age of 11, when one summer day an inappropriate encounter is witnessed by her sister. Alice's relationship with Dodgson and the rumors that follow her will cast a shadow over the rest of her life, costing her a relationship with Prince Leopold and the chance to become a real princess. Benjamin has researched the facts of Alice's and Dodgson's lives and filled in blanks, including what really happened between Alice and Dodgson to cause an irreparable rift between them. The author weaves these facts and her additions into an engaging and moving story of childhood obsession, adolescent dreams, and the realities of adult life. Alice's feelings about being the real-life version of a childhood literary icon are explored in an in-depth manner both from the perspective of her teen years and during her life as a wife and mother. This is a beautiful story for readers interested in the fictionalized life of a literary inspiration."Laura Amos, Newport News Public Library, VA"

        Copyright 2010 School Library Journal, LLC Used with permission.

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shortDescription

BONUS: This edition contains an Alice I Have Been discussion guide and an excerpt from Melanie Benjamin's The Autobiography of Mrs. Tom Thumb.

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...

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Random House Publishing Group