Alice I Have Been by Melanie Benjamin

I’ve seen some Alice-themed display tables at various bookstores recently (for instance, in the U.C. San Diego bookstore), and this new book Alice I Have Been by Melanie Benjamin (mentioned in our post below about the USA Today article) is being prominently hawked. Whilst Disney revs up for 3-D Tim Burton spectacular, appealing to the ADD demographic, this new historical novel is marketed squarely at the book-club crowd. Narrated by Alice Hargreaves née Liddell in her octogenarian dotage, she remembers her life using a stylized semicolonoholic phony-Victorian voice:

So yes, I do get tired; tired of pretending to be Alice in Wonderland still, always. Although, it has been no easier being Alice Pleasance Hargreaves. Truly, I wonder; I have always wondered—–

Which is the real Alice, and which pretend?

Oh dear! I’m sounding like one of Mr. Dodgson’s nonsense poems now. He was so clever at that sort of thing; much cleverer than I, who never had the patience, not then, not now.

Kudos for using the correct personal pronoun after the conjunction “than”, but the result is sounding more British than the British. Apparently the book continues on long past her and her sisters’ relationship with the strange, wonderful and affectionate Mr. Dodgson: thru Alice’s relationship with Queen Victoria’s hemophiliac son Prince Leopold, and into the lives of her own sons (one of whom is named Caryl.) The cover price is $25, available where all handsome new hardcover books are sold.

2 comments to Alice I Have Been by Melanie Benjamin

  • Monica Edinger

    I received the galley for this one a while back and read a bit before setting it aside. It read too much for comfort a lot like Dennis Potter's DREAMCHILD to me. I wonder if those writing the glowing reviews know the movie?

  • S. Sandrigon

    In interviews with Ms Benjamin, it sounds like she only recently stumbled upon her fascination with Alice Liddell (she saw some of the photographs) – so I think it's possible that she wasn't even aware of DREAMCHILD. Dramatizing the real Alice's life could be an idea that many artists come up with over and over again for a long time to come.

    Hi Monica, I added your Alice blog to our blog-list!