"Melanie Benjamin blends the known with the unknown in a seamless tale of love, loss and myth. It's storytelling at its finest."
—Sarah Addison Allen
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."
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.
—National Bestseller (New York Times Extended List)!
—Featured on NPR's Fresh Air and Weekend Edition!
—Chosen as one of Indie Booksellers' Sizzling Summer Picks on NPR's Morning Edition
—Featured in USA Today, Entertainment Weekly, and People!
—Selected as a January 2010 Indie Next Pick!
—Elle Magazine Readers' Prize Selection, January 2010
—Featured Alternate for September for both Book of the Month Club, Book of the Month Club 2, and Quality Paperback Book Club
"Benjamin draws on one of the most enduring relationships in children's literature... spinning out the heartbreaking story of Alice from Alice in Wonderland...Focusing on three eras in Alice's life, Benjamin offers a finely wrought portrait of Alice that seamlessly blends facts with fiction. This is book club gold."
—Publishers Weekly starred review, "Pick of the Week"
"Benjamin's novel imagines the truth behind the mystery of Lewis Carroll's relationship with his child muse, Alice Liddell. Although the shadow of inappropriateness always lingers, this is truly a love story, albeit one that could happily exist only in a fairy tale. This novel will have wide appeal as it includes history, romance, literature, and a great deal of suspense."
—Library Journal (Joy Humphrey, Pepperdine University Law Library, Malibu, CA)
"Alice I Have Been graces an imagined Alice Liddell with her own voice and story, but what really sets this latest Victorian fictional resurrection apart is its awareness of the demonic dimension of great literature. Powerful stories captivate their readers—and sometimes also their muses. As Benjamin vividly depicts here, the young girl who became the muse for one of the most rollicking children's tales of all time may have also became, to some extent, its prisoner, pressed into the looking glass of its fictions."
—Maureen Corrigan, NPR's Fresh Air
"Melanie Benjamin works valiantly to conjure up the real girl behind the Wonderland myth, and finds glints of genuine magic."
Mention in People Magazine!
"A satisfying, haunting piece of literary ventriloquism."
"A memorable and even magical book."
"Powerful and poignant sections deal with the fates of Alice's three adult sons. Dream-children roam in Wonderland forever; their real-life counterparts, sadly, are never so fortunate."
"[A] fine historical novel....Benjamin re-creates a vanished Victorian world among the dreaming spires of Oxford."
—Dallas Morning News
"This novel conjures Alice Liddell—who was the muse for Lewis Carroll's childhood classic—as an octogenarian looking back on her life. A satisfying, haunting piece of literary ventriloquism."
—Good Housekeeping (Jan.)
"...[T]his novel blends fact and fiction to create a full portrait of the woman who inspired Wonderland author Lewis Carroll and shows us that there is a price to pay for being forever young."
—Redbook (click on the graphic to view the PDF)
"This is an ingenious expansion of Alice's story, convincingly conceived
and meticulously crafted, a delightful bit of literary sleight of hand by Benjamin."
"Masterfully written, this "Victorian" novel will satisfy not only those who have been charmed by Alice's Adventures in Wonderland but any reader who enjoys history, mystery, and a journey through life's vagaries with a heroine whose admonition, borrowed from Lewis Carroll, is "May we be happy." Going back in time with the real Alice is like going down a new rabbit hole with experiences following one upon the other until the final page of the imaginative roller coaster ride. A very enjoyable and often poignant adventure story with a curious twist at the end .."
"This is magic! Childhood, sensuality, love, sorrow and wonder, all bright and complex as the shifting patterns in a kaleidoscope."
"A smashing tale—mostly true—of the overlap of childhood and womanhood,
a compelling mystery, an exposé of Victorian mores, an exploration of
love that came too soon and too late, an explosive trail of emotions and
human foibles, a heartbreak—written with compassion and grace: I loved it!"
"What does a woman do who has been a fiction all of her life? How does one shape an existence as Miss Alice Liddell, when one has grown up as a fantasy character, first to eminent men, then to the entire world? Alice I Have Been explores the moving struggle of an eternal girl to forge her identity as a woman, in a time and place where even ordinary women must fight for their identity."
—Laurie R. King
"Alice I Have Been is a smoky, magical mirror into the life of the real Alice. It's a spellbinding look at another Wonderland: Victorian England. Melanie Benjamin blends the known with the unknown in a seamless tale of love, loss and myth. It's storytelling at its finest. I can't wait to see what she comes up with next!"
—Sarah Addison Allen
"This richly imagined novel contains so much—a literary mystery, a royal romance, a vivid portrait of Victorian England and a poignant story of tragedy and endurance, all pieced together into a glittering whole."
"A haunting evocation of a long-ago Lolita, richly imagined and deeply felt, that lingers in memory long after the last page is turned."
Delacorte Press, Hardcover, January 2010, ISBN: 9780385344135
Bantam, Trade Paperback, December 2010, ISBN: 9780385344142