Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Carolyn Recently Finished {Alice I Have Been}:

Now, Brittaney did a post on this some time ago & then she sent this book off to me. Honestly, I wasn't too excited to dig into it - it's not really my sort of book - but, this is where our literary pen pal of a blog really works because I actually really was super into this selection.

This is a work of historical fiction that follows that real life inspiration for Alice in Wonderland - Alice Pleasance Hargreaves {née Liddell} - from childhood & her friendship with Lewis Carroll {real name: Dr. Charles Dodgson} & relationship with her siblings & parents to her young adulthood & a first love with royalty to old age, the death of her loved ones, & the, eventual, acceptance of her role as just Alice in the hearts of the world.

Like I said earlier - not usually my type of book - but I was so instantly drawn in & have been thinking about why? Well, for one I must have been living under a rock because I had no idea of all the controversy surrounding Lewis Carroll & his questionable relationship with small girls - namely the Liddell sisters. I have never actually read the real Alice in Wonderland books - I have seen & read the little Disney ones, but I have yet to get around to the classic, so I guess I never spent much time thinking about the author or whether or not there was a real Alice.

I spent some time messing around the internet on the topic of Carroll/Dodgson's pedofilia & there is nothing conclusive, but what is available is pretty suspicious. At some point in time, after the writing of the Alice Under Ground book, the Liddell clan severed their ties with him, which resulted in Alice's mother burning all of his correspondence, up to this point, with her children. Years later, his children also removed & destroyed large sections of his diary from this time period. A letter from Carroll/Dodgson -recently found - mentions his love for little girls -not boys -& he refers to his companions as "child friends." Then there are all those unsettling photographs of little girls - usually naked. It's rather suspicious regardless if nothing of a sexual nature occurred.

{Alice, photographed by Dodgson, 1858}

So, all that was quite interesting to me as it was new. I really appreciated the honesty of the character of Alice - her thoughts & actions really reflect what an actual person would have said/done, as opposed to the clarity that hindsight brings. Her relationship with her sisters was a true reflection of sisterhood - maybe the author has experience!? I also appreciated her honesty as a mother about her love for her children, & that, perhaps, it's not always equal & one might not be able to help that.

{Alice with her sisters, photographed by Dodgson, 1859}

The author must have spent quite a bit of time researching because from what I can gather all the dates & names are correct. There are so many holes in the true story, that the best we can make of it is to probably guess anyways. But, like the Alice in the story mentions at the end - let the public think what they want & keep you own memories for yourself. It was a quick read & kept me quite enthralled - so I would recommend it!

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