Miscellaneous Alice > Alice I Have Been: A Novel by Melanie Benjamin

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Alice I Have Been: A Novel by Melanie Benjamin

Postby The Queen of Hearts » Wed Oct 07, 2009 11:58 pm

So, it looks like we'll be getting a fictional book on the life of Alice Liddell Hargreaves. :D I'm actually really excited for this as all the reviews from pre-publication reading people who've read it are glowing!

Here are some of the sites I looked at:

http://www.goodreads.com/book/show/6540 ... en-a-novel

http://www.librarything.com/work/8695108/reviews/

Unfortunatly, it won't be officially released until the end of December/beginning of January!!!!

(I hope I put this in the right topic. I wasn't sure if it should have been under books or not, since it's not directly related to the Alice books)

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Postby freelancer » Sun Nov 01, 2009 6:15 pm

I'm curious about this book. I read the excerpt on the author's website. The 1st chapter is fairly basic for anyone who knows the facts behind the fiction, but I found her style to be very promising. I hope she stays far away from the stench left by Mr. Potter and Mrs. Roiphe's sories. I know that controversy sells books, but why should writers appeal to the lowest common denominator? I'm sure the friendship between Alice Liddell and Charles Dodgson has much more interesting aspects to explore. AIW:-)

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Alice I Have Been

Postby Melanie Benjamin » Mon Nov 02, 2009 4:31 pm

Hi! I'm Melanie Benjamin, the author of the book ALICE I HAVE BEEN, a novel about the life of Alice Liddell. I wanted to pop in and introduce myself and say I'd love to hang around and answer any questions. I can't do this with every forum that discusses Alice, of course, but I happen to love this site. I spent a lot of time online researching the book, naturally, as I when I wrote it, I didn't have a book contract. I couldn't afford to go to Oxford on my own, so - thank goodness for the wonders of the Internet!

Anyway, I'm very appreciative of any mention or interest in ALICE; what makes my book different from others - always remembering that it's fiction, however - is that I was very interested in what happened to Alice Liddell after Wonderland, after she grew up. I personally believe I approach the Dodgson/Alice relationship more fairly than others have. Never did I think of Dodgson as simply a predator and Alice a victim. She was no victim! The astonishing little girl in the beggar girl photograph - which inspired me to write this book - was no victim. I think their relationship - like most relationships - was more complex than that. I also need to emphasize this is not Dodgson's story; we only see him through her eyes. But I firmly believe that what happened between them - and of course I have my own version of what led to their mysterious break, which I reveal at the end of the book - was both good and bad, resulting in beauty and heartbreak, both. My Alice struggles with the legacies of both aspects of their relationship, as well as the Alice books, for her entire life. That was what interested me as an author; not putting either Alice or Dodgson neatly into a stereotypical box.

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Postby White Night » Tue Nov 03, 2009 3:57 am

Melanine,
Thank you for stopping by and introducing yourself. Your words about your approach to this relationship are very intriguing. I wish you great sucsess with your book.

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Postby The Queen of Hearts » Wed Nov 04, 2009 4:38 am

Hi Melanie,
I can’t wait to read your book when it comes out! We have it on order at the library where I work, so if I like it I’ll be sure to recommend it to the patrons.

Anyway, I am curious to know what you used for resources. Did you use sources of others and what they said about Alice and then wrote what you thought she would have said/felt? Or was it from sources directly written by Alice? Just wondering... :D
Last edited by The Queen of Hearts on Tue Nov 10, 2009 3:52 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Alice I Have Been

Postby Melanie Benjamin » Wed Nov 04, 2009 3:57 pm

For details of Alice's life, I read the biography "The Real Alice" by Anne Clark; an illustrated children's book called "The Other Alice," and also Francine Prose's "Lives of the Muses," which contains a section about Dodgson and Alice Liddell. I also read most of the articles, written by Caryl in her name, that came out when she went to Columbia near the end of her life. And also the part in John Ruskin's autobiography that spoke of her. Also of course, I acquainted myself with many of the theories and speculations of the true nature of Dodgson's relationship with her, but only to understand how little anyone really knows of it - and how, still, after all these years, it continues to fascinate people.

But this is fiction, of course; the voice of the Alice in my book is not taken from any of her own writing - I explicitly did not want to see any of that, because usually I find reading actual diaries or letters to be a disappointment, not truly a reflection of that person's personality or more important - a reflection of the way others saw that person. So my Alice's voice is a combination of the person I saw looking out from the beggar girl photograph, and the Alice in the books; my task was to mature that voice as Alice aged.

Obviously Alice Liddell in person was captivating to almost everyone who met her - John Ruskin, of course, wrote of her (and he appears in my book). In Clark's biography, she writes that in her own writing, however, Alice Liddell was not given to be very inspiring. So, again - I wanted to avoid having this color my novel which, of course, must have a captivating heroine or else nobody would want to read it!

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Postby NeVaR aSk » Sat Nov 07, 2009 1:14 pm

^ Much respects for your work…is not easy been a writer.

It seems interesting your personal approach of Alice Liddell’s life in a fictional book. Sometimes I can be skeptic about this when fiction and facts are merged. In most cases, this is how myth/misconceptions arise creating new ideas wich deviates from the real events. You point out this to be fiction and I’m glad you did…otherwise it can be filed with the many attempts trying to give the “holly truth” to the world.

I think the problem rely on the subjective view and how it is manipulated to create one’s ideas of the events wich,in most cases, leans towards connotations/innuendos… specially when talking about the unravel lifes of Alice and ultimately Dodgson’s. Also biographer’s tendency to neglect anything that go against their ideas… is understandable since they need a basis to start from and why not their own… but still we need to be aware of the circumstances.

As you point out, diaries/letters don’t give sometimes the best reflection on the person… even more with the enigmatic life of both protagonists. But that is the only way to be the close as possible to the truth… wether they express their true feelings or not is something we can not ever know unless,as sometimes happens, contradictions in letters/diary entries can be found. This is sometimes the case with Dodgson (surely Alice also but I haven’t follow her that much)… there are some entries wich compare to others are quite contradictory but who are we to judge his/hers personal feelings of the moment. That’s why even with solid evidence we can not take it as utmost truth but at least close to it.

There are some new books and upcoming as well that emphasize this subject. Some are fiction and others with more solid arguments… this last one has as one of its main points the short mysterious departure of Dodgson and the Liddell’s wich has nothing to do with Alice. The other, a rather blend of fiction/facts (still in debate), talks about the real Hatter been John Oliver a.k.a. Coffe Johnny and his relation with Alice Liddell. But again… everyone has their view and is up to us to take the best part and analized the arguments closer to the facts (that is if one wants to know the truth…)

Ron Whyte

Coffee Johnny (John Oliver)

Postby Ron Whyte » Wed Dec 23, 2009 3:37 pm

John Oliver has been traced back to the Liddell family and was half brother to Alice Liddell. I am the great grandson of John Oliver. John Olivers father was Henry George Liddell and the mother was Sara Koeffer. I am trying to trace the family of Sara Koeffer who came from Prussian Royalty.

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Postby NeVaR aSk » Fri Dec 25, 2009 1:49 pm

^ As you most probbably know, many things have been said about connections of the characters and real people/events... I do believed Dodgson, subconsciously or not, use real people as basis for his charcters but this can not be confirmed as true. As for now its only speculation/subjective even though some make sense.

Also there is "Alice on the stage" wich he gave characterization by means of thought/imagination. This was written well after Alice in 1887 therefore it may not help much.

I read some time ago about John Oliver's apparent connection with the Hatter... Do you think your Great-Grandfather could have been the inspiration?... please give some light.

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Postby The Queen of Hearts » Wed Dec 30, 2009 9:22 pm

Okay, so I read the advanced reading copy last month and I'm sorry to say this, but I really didn't enjoy the book as, in my opinion, it put Dodgson in a very unflattering and disturbing light (as well as Alice). :| Normally I don't mind when writers take small liberties with historical fiction books, but despite how well written this was I really felt that it could have focused less on certain areas.

Overall, this book, unfortunately, left me feeling really depressed. :(

AngelAlice

Not again!

Postby AngelAlice » Fri Feb 26, 2010 9:05 pm

Melanie - your book is a bit out of date. Try this site:

http://carrollmyth.com

or read In the Shadow of the Dreamchild or The Mystery of Lewis Carroll. Carroll wasn't in love with Alice Liddell. Period.

If you believe Leach's hogwash of a revisionist book, filled with inaccuracies which I rebutted in my amazon reviews, then I have a bridge in NYC to sell you cheap!

Yeah, Carroll wasn't in love with Alice or little girls, but adult women...then why didn't he marry one of them, rather than spend most of his life surrounded by children???

(and don't give me the "He took a vow of celibacy" argument, Dodgson was able to persuade the Dean to let him live on at Christ Church even though he refused to take holy orders, and after he was made wealthy because of Wonderland, he would have given up his lecture seat in a moment, for love, if it had happened)
The real problem was that his love was only 11, and her mother didn't think Dodgson to be a proper suitor.


Read my posts here, and in Amazon if you want to read fact.

BTW At least the author of Alice I have Been admits to her book as fiction, not Ms Leach who misinterprets the flimsiest evidence to say that he was in love with Ina, Mrs. Liddell, or Ms. Prickett...hmmm she can't even make up her mind about THAT!!!
Last edited by AngelAlice on Tue Oct 26, 2010 7:07 am, edited 4 times in total.

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Postby Lenny » Sat Feb 27, 2010 8:43 am

It's fiction... ;)

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Postby Guest » Mon Mar 15, 2010 10:07 am

Isn't just saying 'it's fiction' a bit of a cop-out? If Benjamin just wanted to write a story about a nice paedophile and a sexually precocious seven-year-old she could have called her characters anything she liked. Putting real people in novels surely gives you some kind of duty to do justice to the known facts of their lives, and these facts are a lot better known now than they were when Dennis Potter wrote Dreamchild.

I see it's a long time since the author herslef posted here and she may well not be following any more, but having read the very short and lightweight list of the books she referred to I'd love to ask why she chose not to read a single biographical work on Carroll before going into print about him.


NOTHING of any consequence has been "discovered" about Lewis Carroll since Potter's Dreamchild.
Almost every new bio that has come out since Cohen's opus has been more or less revisionist history. Only the bio concerning Carroll's bank account was noteworthy, and that book also had some clear insight about Dodgson's attraction to little girls and his love of Alice.
I think if I hear one more reference to Leach's revisionist load of crap, I will scream!
Last edited by Guest on Tue Oct 26, 2010 7:14 am, edited 3 times in total.

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Melanie Benjamin: Alice I Have Been

Postby Guest » Sun Oct 24, 2010 6:14 pm

In true nonsensical manner.. a book of fiction has more truth to it than all the more recent, so-called biographies!

Alice I have Been is a fact based, but fictitious account of what Alice Hargeaves would have written if she had been so inclined to write her memoirs.
Of course, the most important aspect of the book is her account of the relationship between herself as a child and Mr. Dodgson.
Based on all the material gathered to write this kind of book, and my own research...Benjamin hits the mark, while other formal biographers try in every which way to analyze the facts to fit their own bias..
Now of course, Benjimen does the same thing..but because this IS a fictional account, she has free reign, and in my opinion, her view point as that of the real Alice makes more sense, and is based on sounder evidence than more recent books such as Leach's "In the Shadow of a Dreamchild"

Not only is her evidence sound, but it is what most romantics like myself would like to believe!
By all accounts, Benjimen comes closer to solidifying this "myth" as fact more than anyone before her.

Read this book or listen to the unabridged audio version, and if you ever wondered how Alice REALLY felt about her Mr. Dodgson, you won't be disappointed..

[edit by webmaster] I combined your new topic about this book with an already exisiting topic

3rdpoliceman

Postby 3rdpoliceman » Sun Oct 24, 2010 6:17 pm

I have actually been looking out for this book. But I'll read it for myself before deciding on whether it is the most truthful biography or not. AIW:-)


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