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25 January 2010

Alice I Have Been: A Book Tour and Review

Title: Alice I Have Been
Author: Melanie Benjamin
Publisher: Delacorte Press
Publication Date: January 12, 2010
Hardcover: 368 pages
ISBN: 978-0385344135
Genre: Historical Fiction


About the Book

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.

My Review:

An exquisitely written novel, Alice I Have Been could easily enough draw the reader in with the prose alone. However the story is one not to be missed. Narrated by 80-year old Alice who begins to reminisce starting with her childhood and early acquaintance with Mr. Dodgson, who, in a few years time would write her story, Alice in Wonderland, under the pen name Lewis Carroll.

Alice's life was one of privilege, her father the Dean of Oxford, yet for all the wealth and opportunities, Alice only speaks of a few occasions throughout her life where she was truly happy. Unfortunately those were rare occurrences. Unlike the 7-year-old girl in Alice in Wonderland, Alice Liddell was a girl in desperate need of love and affection, often left wanting, especially when her dearest sister was taken from her. Constantly plagued by rumor and speculation, Alice was kept from marrying her true love and eventually married, settling in the country away from Oxford where she gave birth to three sons. Alice did not speak much of this painful time, a time of suffering and tremendous loss, yet without it she would never have sold her original copy of Alice In Wonderland. In so doing she may not have, at long last, remembered what had occurred to so alter her life from a carefree eleven-year-old to a sad and lonely eighty-year-old.

Alice I have Been is an extremely sad tale of Alice Liddell, a young girl who wanted to play and be loved, forever immortalized as a 7-year-old and sadly largely ignored and unloved by her mother, older sister, and governess. Their cruelty extended into society with word of a scandal which caused Alice so much heartache throughout her life. Longing to flee Oxford and Wonderland, Alice does not realise she has truly been loved low these many years, for just being herself, not some character or figment, until it is too late. Alice I Have Been is a bittersweet story, tenderly told, and one that I would recommend for those who have ever wondered what happened to the girl whole fell down the rabbit hole.

About the Author:
Melanie Benjamin lives in the Chicago area with her husband and two sons, where she is working on her next historical novel. Visit her website for more information.

Melanie Benjamin’s ALICE I HAVE BEEN VIRTUAL BOOK TOUR ‘10 officially began on January 4th and end on January 29th. You can visit Melanie’s blog stops at during the month of January to find out more about this great book and its talented author.

I received a copy of Alice I Have Been by Melanie Benjamin from Pump Up Your Book Promotion as part of the tour. Receiving a free review copy in no way reflected my review of aforementioned novel.



Melody said...

This sounds intriguing!

Amy said...

This is on my list and I'm looking forward to reading it soon.

Cheryl said...

Thanks for the excellent review of Melanie's book. It has received many great reviews during this tour. I am now eager to read it.


Andrea said...

I need to read this one sooner rather than later. Great review!

Booksnyc said...

thanks for the review - glad to hear you really liked it! I will need to add this to my TBR

Creations by Laurel-Rain Snow said...

I just finished reading this book, and I couldn't put it down! A memorable tale, I have reviewed it on my Moonbeams & Rainbows blog at

Great review!

Alyce said...

This does sound really sad. I have been hearing really good things about it though.

Sharon said...

I had no idea who these two were until you stated it here. I read another review that said something about the man seeing the young Alice as seductive and I was creeped out. Perhaps, since I've read your review, I made an error in judgement! Thanks!

Doll Clothes Gal Pal said...

Thank you for this great review!

Farrah from The Book Faery Reviews said...

I am sooo going to have to pick up a copy of this book!

stacybuckeye said...

Great review! Thanks :)

Carin said...

this is on my long list, thanks for moving it up higher!

Suzanne said...

I just loved this book too! Alice's life was so sad, and even though it was plagued by rumors, she was able to find true happiness. I did feel her mother should have shared some of the burden of Alice's downfall though...

ibeeeg said...

Fantastic review that has convinced me to put this book on my tbr list.
Thanks. :)

Sheila (Bookjourney) said...

Great review - I am moving this one to my TBR list.