Melanie Benjamin's fictional account of Alice Liddell's life, Alice I Have Been
, is written in the form of an autobiography.
I was listening to the book via iTunes while I worked, and sometimes I would zone out a little (there are a few spots that are slow) but for the most part it kept me involved in the story. Benjamin's writing is lovely and she uses language well.
The story itself is told by an elderly Alice; it begins with Alice's childhood, and her relationship with family friend Charles Dodgson, and lingers there for about half of the book, then follows her through that childhood into adulthood and marriage and motherhood. The legacy of being "that Alice" plays a large role, naturally.Alice I Have Been
doesn't shy away from the rumors that floated around Liddell and Dodgson's relationship, and the result is CREEPY. I was creeped out quite a bit during this novel. The writing is good, don't get me wrong; it maybe gets the point across TOO well.
The weaving in of known facts with total and/or half-speculation was enjoyable. Since I was at a computer I would look up certain things that were mentioned in the novel -- such as the "gypsy girl" photo -- when they came up. As a result, I know more about the actual lives of Liddell and Dodgson now, which I count as a plus.
So all in all, I liked it. Except for the creepy. I just finished another novel (not related to this one at all) that also had an adult/minor relationship, although this one is nowhere near as explicit as that one was. Maybe I would not have been as shuddery if it hadn't been two books of ew in a row, I don't know.
But if you can get past that -- Lolita
is worse and I know tons of people love that book -- I would recommend it.
Notes on the audiobook: the narrator's voice matches the book well, and I think she is good with children's speech patterns. The voice she used for male conversation grated after a while, but overall I liked the narration for this one.