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For an author--at least, for an author like me--the single most important factor when writing a book is the protagonist’s voice. Who is she, what does she sound like, is she strong or weak? Headstrong or passive? If an author doesn’t have a clear vision in her head, writing a novel centering around this person is going to be very, very difficult.
Fortunately for me, I had a clear vision; so clear I could actually see it and read it myself. I was inspired to write Alice I Have Been after unexpectedly viewing a photographic exhibit called "Dreaming in Pictures: The Photography of Lewis Carroll." Among the many photographs there, all taken by the man who wrote Alice's Adventures in Wonderland and Through the Looking Glass, one stood out to me. It was of a young girl clad only in rags, but with an expression on her face that stopped me in my tracks. She was so adult, so frank, so worldly, as she gazed at the man behind the camera.
She was 7-year-old Alice Liddell, the daughter of Dean Henry Liddell of Christ Church, Oxford. It was to her that Lewis Carroll--or Charles Dodgson, as she knew him--told the story of a little girl who tumbled down a rabbit hole. She was the one who begged him to write it down.
I wondered what happened to her after she grew up; I wondered what happened between the two of them to result in such a startling photograph.
I wondered so much that I decided to write about it, write her story in her own "words"--although of course, with historical fiction, I got to make those words up. But she was my protagonist, and immediately the most important factor in writing this novel was known to me. For the girl in the photograph, and the girl in the classic books, were one and the same; they were my Alice, and I knew her voice, I knew who she was because of them. The wise yet wary face in the photograph, the unflappable voice of the girl in the books--all I had to do was capture it on the page.
My task, then, was to show that voice, that personality, maturing naturally through the years as she continued to try to leave Wonderland behind. But the difficult work was done for me, I truly believe, all because of the collaboration between two remarkable people--Alice Liddell and Lewis Carroll. What happened between the two of them 150 years ago continues to fascinate and inspire. It gave the world Wonderland, after all--And it gave me my heroine. Sometimes all you have to do is open your eyes and look around you for inspiration; look at a photograph, read a book. I’m so very glad that I did.--Melanie Benjamin
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|"Alice as a Beggar Girl."||"Alice Liddell, as a Young Woman"||"Alice Pleasance Liddell Hargreaves, 1932."|
I found this book a very enjoyable read, a fascinating story.
Alice I Have Been is a wonderful novel about Alice Liddell/Hargreaves the inspiration for Lewis Carroll's Alice in Wonderland.
Melanie Benjamin takes the facts and figures from Alice's life and intertwines them with fiction, creating a unique story.
I loved this book. It was very interesting. I can't get the book out of my mind, I would read it again, except, I sent it to my daughter, who grew up with the character. Read morePublished 2 days ago by Anne Marie Cardone
I have always enjoyed "Alice in Wonderland" and "Alice through the Looking Glass." In later years, I read a little more about the author and was rather horrified... Read morePublished 3 days ago by Nancy D.
Since it is not known exactly what happened between Alice and Mr. Dodgson I understand the author had to take some liberties. However, the whole thing came across as creepy. Read morePublished 5 days ago by Beth S.
This was a fascinating account of the life of the real Alice In Wonderland, Alice Liddel of Oxford, England. Read morePublished 10 days ago by Virginia Al-Rikabi
Very appropriately named. Bizarre but kept you wanted to read.Published 10 days ago by Walt Jackson
Melanie is a wonderful writer. I thoroughly enjoyed this book as well as The Aviator's Wife. Both books were very interesting historically and kept my interest all the way through. Read morePublished 11 days ago by Mema
Great insight into the real Alice and Carroll. Be sure to read the epilog it completes the story.Published 19 days ago by Lenn Porcello