Book Review: Alice I Have Been

I often wonder. Before I am gone from this earth, before my bones lie in the churchyard, so far away from where those other bones lie, I do hope that others’ memories will finally fall away and I will be able to remember, with a clarity of my very own, what happened that afternoon. That seemingly lovely summer afternoon, when between the two of us, we set out to destroy Wonderland–my Wonderland, his Wonderland–forever.”

Alice I Have Been by Melanie Benjamin, was published in 2010 by Delacorte Press and is 368 pages.  Inspired by an exhibit on Charles Dodgson (aka Lewis Carroll) and based on research, Melanie Benjamin tells the story of the consequences resulting from Charles Dodgson’s relationship with his muse, Alice Liddell.

The book tells the story of Alice’s life before and after the misunderstanding that caused her family to sever ties with Dodgson. Benjamin’s account of Alice’s innocence and the events that mark her coming of age, along with the stain her relationship with Dodgson forever leaves on Alice are compelling and heartbreaking.  Through the joys and sadness of Alice’s life, her strengths and flaws, and her wisdom and misunderstanding, Alice’s voice is always truly written, captivating, and authentic.

Alice I Have Been is a masterful blend of history and story, and represents historical fiction at its finest.  Benjamin paints a vivid portrait of proper Victorian society, and those living on the fringe of it.  I look forward to more books from Ms. Benjamin.

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