Customer Reviews for

Alice I Have Been: A Novel

Average Rating 4
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Most Helpful Favorable Review

15 out of 17 people found this review helpful.

Review of Alice I Have Been

I've been on quite the Alice in Wonderland binge lately. Over the Christmas break I read the Looking Glass Wars books by Frank Bedder, then more recently saw the new Alice in Wonderland movie. Then.. I picked up Alice I Have Been.

What a breath of fresh air this wa...
I've been on quite the Alice in Wonderland binge lately. Over the Christmas break I read the Looking Glass Wars books by Frank Bedder, then more recently saw the new Alice in Wonderland movie. Then.. I picked up Alice I Have Been.

What a breath of fresh air this was compared to the over saturation of everything else. Instead of exploring more of "Wonderland", Melanie Benjamin gives us a fictional account of the Alice so few of us actually knew, the one living in our world.

Now, with that said I will tell you.. there are some really creepy, really disturbing parts to this book. Charles Lutwidge Dodgson (aka Lewis Carroll) was a disturbed individual (as evidenced by the photographs he would take of young girls see: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lewis_Carroll) I was thoroughly weirded out by the behavior and, honestly, was thankful that Alice in Wonderland is not one of my favorite childhood stories.

Okay, so I said it. It wasn't one of my favorites. Let me warn you before you pick up this book - if Alice in Wonderland IS one of your favorite stories it's very possible that reading this fictional book (even with the inspiration it takes from reality) will affect your view of Alice in Wonderland. It has affected mine. I intend to do a bit more reading, but regardless.. my view of Alice has been altered.

The story is interesting, I loved how Melanie Benjamin did not hesitate to give us a real picture of what Alice's life might have been like. I loved the fictional retelling of a real-life meeting between Alice and Peter Llewelyn Davies (Yes.. that Peter Pan). There were quite a few things I loved about this book and I wouldn't discourage anyone from reading it, aside from what I stated above.

posted by Benz1966 on March 29, 2010

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Most Helpful Critical Review

1 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

slow, but an interesting read

With the release of the new Alice movie and all of the promotion of Alice in Wonderland, I couldn't help but get caught up in the Alice hysteria. I realized that I had never read Alice in Wonderland, despite all the reading that I did as a child. I quickly read Alice ...
With the release of the new Alice movie and all of the promotion of Alice in Wonderland, I couldn't help but get caught up in the Alice hysteria. I realized that I had never read Alice in Wonderland, despite all the reading that I did as a child. I quickly read Alice and Wonderland, followed by Alice I have been. Alice I have been is a fictional story written about the real life girl that inspired Alice in Wonderland. It was an interesting storyline, although a bit slow at times.

I guess one of the biggest problems about reading a book that trys to tell the 'real life' story behind a fantastical character is that it cannot be near as enchanting. In fact the storyline behind this book is sad and depressing. Nonetheless, it is a good rainy day read and a refreshing perspective on the childhood classic Alice and Wonderland.

posted by child_at_heart on April 9, 2010

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  • Posted March 29, 2010

    more from this reviewer

    Review of Alice I Have Been

    I've been on quite the Alice in Wonderland binge lately. Over the Christmas break I read the Looking Glass Wars books by Frank Bedder, then more recently saw the new Alice in Wonderland movie. Then.. I picked up Alice I Have Been.

    What a breath of fresh air this was compared to the over saturation of everything else. Instead of exploring more of "Wonderland", Melanie Benjamin gives us a fictional account of the Alice so few of us actually knew, the one living in our world.

    Now, with that said I will tell you.. there are some really creepy, really disturbing parts to this book. Charles Lutwidge Dodgson (aka Lewis Carroll) was a disturbed individual (as evidenced by the photographs he would take of young girls see: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lewis_Carroll) I was thoroughly weirded out by the behavior and, honestly, was thankful that Alice in Wonderland is not one of my favorite childhood stories.

    Okay, so I said it. It wasn't one of my favorites. Let me warn you before you pick up this book - if Alice in Wonderland IS one of your favorite stories it's very possible that reading this fictional book (even with the inspiration it takes from reality) will affect your view of Alice in Wonderland. It has affected mine. I intend to do a bit more reading, but regardless.. my view of Alice has been altered.

    The story is interesting, I loved how Melanie Benjamin did not hesitate to give us a real picture of what Alice's life might have been like. I loved the fictional retelling of a real-life meeting between Alice and Peter Llewelyn Davies (Yes.. that Peter Pan). There were quite a few things I loved about this book and I wouldn't discourage anyone from reading it, aside from what I stated above.

    15 out of 17 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted March 7, 2010

    I Also Recommend:

    INTERESTING, FASCINATING, TOUCHING AND ENCHANTING!

    The true story of what happened between Charles Dodgson, author of Alice in Wonderland, and Alice Liddell will likely never be known. Alice Liddell, as a child was tormented by her governess, as an adult was the subject of gossip and innuendo that was Oxford, and as an older woman restored the family fortune. Benjamin captures the essence of privileged Victorians, carefree afternoons on the river, the aggravation and discomfort of starched muslin petticoats, a world in which the slightest suggestion of impropriety could ruin a young woman's reputation. The story is based on some researched fact and evidence, a romance between Alice and Prince Leopold, that he had a daughter named Alice and she a son named Leopold. Interesting! Great detail and vivid, fascinating reading!

    The author did a wonderful job with the voice of the narrator, adult Alice, in retrospect... a life lived in the shadow of her childhood self was poignant and heartbreaking at the same time... having a cold, maniputlative mother, a self-involved, snooty sister, Alice was obviously the misfit.

    INTERESTING, FASCINATING, TOUCHING AND ENCHANTING!

    13 out of 15 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted January 22, 2010

    Fascinating story of the girl who was Alice in Wonderland

    Alice I Have Been by Melanie Benjamin is the reimagined life of Alice Pleasance Lidell, more famously known as Alice in Wonderland. The Lidell family lived in Oxford where the father was the Dean of the college and Charles Dodgson, who would later gain fame as Lewis Carroll, was a mathematics professor. Dodgson had a fascination with Alice and her sister, Ina and Edith, and often took them for walks and out on a boat, accompanied by their governess, but he was more attached to Alice in a way that has been speculated about for over a century. She grew up to be wooed by a Prince and build a family of her own, but she never shook the mantle of Alice in Wonderland, eventually going on a speaking tour about the famous character. Benjamin brings to life the little girl who inspired one of the most famous children's books in history but as an adult wanted little to do with that identity. Alice is precocious and certain in her desire to never grow up, but Benjamin creates a mystery as to exactly what happened between Dodgson and Alice and builds a compelling and exciting novel about Alice. This is a must read for fans of the classic book or of historical fiction.

    7 out of 8 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted April 10, 2010

    A delightful blend of fact and fiction

    Have you ever wondered about the little girl who was the inspiration behind Alice in Wonderland? Her name is Alice Liddell and she grew up in Victorian England. Melanie Benjamin takes the facts and figures from Alice's life and intertwines them with fiction, creating a unique story. The narrative follows Alice throughout her life, including her childhood relationship with Charles Dodgson (also known as Lewis Carroll) and the mysterious end of their friendship.

    I really enjoyed this book. One of the most interesting aspects was the transformation of Alice at each stage of her life. Victorian England is an extremely hard era for any child to grow up in. The society is very restrictive and bound by expectations, which isn't conducive to a precocious and imaginative young girl. She's kind of a wild child that her parents constantly have to rein in. Her friendship with Dodgson is organic because he's the only adult who really takes her seriously and listens to what she has to say. The breach happens at this point in her life, which goes unexplained until the very end of the novel. Throughout Alice's young adult life, this is hinted at and danced around, but never definitely answered, which creates mystery and compels me to read on.

    As a child, Alice wants Charles Dodgson to write down the story that will become Alice in Wonderland because it makes her feel special. Throughout the rest of her life, the novel holds her in the past, with the memories associated with it and the expectations and vision of her that other people have because of it. As an adult, she matures and learns to come to grips with the literary version of herself. Throughout the entire narrative, from childhood to late adulthood, Alice's narrative as it transforms is completely genuine and believable.

    The mixture of fact and fiction also makes this novel special. The photos Charles Dodgson took that are talked about in the book actually exist. All the people in Alice's life are real people. This gives the novel an extra layer that piques my interest and makes me so curious that I look up the figures, photos, or facts on the internet. After the story, there is an afterword by the author that reveals the motivation behind writing the novel and which things are facts and which speculation.

    Alice I Have Been is very beautifully written and plunges the reader into the world of the real Alice. The story is genuine and had me so emotionally invested that it brought tears to my eyes at points. I would definitely encourage anyone to read it.

    5 out of 7 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted January 15, 2010

    more from this reviewer

    intriguing autobiographical fiction

    Octogenarian Alice Liddell Hargreaves leaves England on tour to receive honor from adulating American audiences. She finds the Americans nice though stunned that Alice of Wonderland is eighty and not eight. All were kind though disappointed with her age anyway except for some lad who offered her an oddity, chewing gum that one does not swallow, but just chews as if it came from Wonderland.

    Alice muses on her life as a little girl when their neighbor Oxford Professor Charles Dodgson tells her and her sisters Ina and Edith stories in which she was the star. Over time after a dismal encounter with her hero Professor Dodgson falls in love with Prince Leopold, but she frets that he will reject her once he hears of her alleged indiscretions with the adult storyteller when she was a child. Years pass with the Great War intruding on Alice watching her three sons go off to fight and knowing most likely not all three will come home, but she is still remembered as That Alice.

    This intriguing autobiographical fiction takes a deep look at the life of That Alice mostly through her eyes during three prime periods in her life. First and most influential (and almost half the novel) is as the preadolescent meetings with the stuttering Dodgson who makes her famous as That Alice. The other two periods are the royal romance and the WWI era. The gaps are filled with her looking back at events like her marriage to Hargreaves in 1880. However, throughout being Alice of Wonderland impacts her life as her highlight film occurs when she is a tweener in the late 1850s in Oxford. Fans will enjoy this tale that avoids the modern day moral posturing of concluding Dodgson was a pedophile though he still comes across as creepy weird.

    Harriet Klausner

    5 out of 7 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted February 23, 2010

    Phenomenal

    This book is for everyone who has wondered about the story behind Wonderland. Fiction and fact were fused seamlessly in this book. I could not put it down. Melanie Benjamin is brilliant at pulling her audience in, making you care about the characters and creating world all of her own based on the history of one of the most beloved books of all time.

    4 out of 5 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted March 18, 2010

    more from this reviewer

    I fell in love with this book

    I had read a review about this book in Entertainment Weekly and that next Saturday I bought it and I couldn't put it down. I was amazing! I started to feel for the characters and what they went through. The book is divided in to three sections and the first two sections of the book of the book are hard to put down, but once you get to the end it's easier to walk away. The end is kind of boring but still really good don't get me wrong it's just not as exciting as the beginning.
    Wonderful Wonderful Wonderful book!

    3 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted January 6, 2011

    Amazing piece of literature, but beware!!

    I LOVED this book, but I'd like to warn anyone who adores Alice in Wonderland and/or Through the Looking Glass. This story may ruin your innocent adoration of the stories and, especially, the author. The mysteries around Alice and "Lewis" have always interested me, but as an English teacher, I won't bring up the controversy unless necessary. It too easily ruins the innocence and beauty of Wonderland's Alice. However, true literary enthusiasts will appreciate this fictional account of the real Alice.

    2 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted May 14, 2010

    A Must Read

    If you loved the "Alice In Wonderland" story or "Through the Looking Glass" as a child, then you will love this novel! Historical fiction at its finest, this book takes you into the possibly true love story of Alice Liddel and Mr. Dodgson, the storyteller who once rambled off the tale of a young girl following a white rabbit into a fanciful world.
    As Alice gets older, the story follows her throughout her life, becoming more of a burden than the unrequited love story she once thought it would be.
    Truly a novel of love and loss, "Alice: I Have Been" is a must read!

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted April 29, 2010

    I Also Recommend:

    Fascinating!

    This is narrated by Alice Liddell Hargreaves and begins with the eighty-year old Alice coming to America to the expectation of being the little girl from Wonderland. Alice remembers her youthful years, the golden days of stories and tea parties, row boats and picnics. Fascinating!"

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted January 31, 2010

    more from this reviewer

    In the looking glass

    I received Alice I Have Been from Pump Up Your Book Tours for review purposes. The description intrigued me and I was really interested in reading it. The book is also available in stores, as I saw it on the shelf at the library last week for checkout.

    The premise of the book is that it is about the girl who Alice in Wonderland is based on and her life as she grows into adulthood. According to the notes from Melanie Benjamin at the end of the book she used what facts are available about Alice Liddell and Charles Dodgson (who wrote as Lewis Carroll) and then added in her own fictionalization about their lives. Even the facts that are available were open to some interpretation.

    As I read this book I felt a mounting sense of urgency to find out the secrets that were hinted at through out. Alice bounces around, she starts as a woman in her eighties who is thinking back on her childhood but at times she is at different stages of her life. Even though some things were revealed earlier in the story I still found myself hoping against evidence to the contrary that things would work out differently. When I finished the novel I was left with a lot of questions especially about Lewis Carroll and who he really was and what he was really like. I may need to look for a biography of him to learn some more.

    This was a very intriguing premise for me, I loved the idea of a fictionalized account of real people based on known facts. I think it would be even more interesting to find out, if it is even possible, how close to true Benjamin's account was.

    There were times when I really liked Alice and her independent nature and times when I did not care for her. I don't know if it was a product of the time but it seemed like an awful lot of the characters ended up going mad or insane, whether it was because they were creative types or from something else, it just seemed like a disproportionately large number. The big question I was left with is would it really be possible for it to take years to recognize love and how fast does life pass when we are busy focusing on the mundane?

    2 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 15, 2014

    Wait

    Is it ficton or not i dont get it!!!!!!!!!

    1 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 20, 2010

    Is this the REAL Alice?

    With the release of the Disney version of Alice in Wonderland, once again the question occurs was there really an Alice upon whom the story is based? The author has well researched the Alice in the story and embellished it with other possibilities. Much is left to the reader's imagination about the nature of Lewis Carrol. This makes for interesting reading, but this is also a book that is easily laid down, not one that stimulates the reader to read on at a rapid pace.

    1 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted April 9, 2010

    slow, but an interesting read

    With the release of the new Alice movie and all of the promotion of Alice in Wonderland, I couldn't help but get caught up in the Alice hysteria. I realized that I had never read Alice in Wonderland, despite all the reading that I did as a child. I quickly read Alice and Wonderland, followed by Alice I have been. Alice I have been is a fictional story written about the real life girl that inspired Alice in Wonderland. It was an interesting storyline, although a bit slow at times.

    I guess one of the biggest problems about reading a book that trys to tell the 'real life' story behind a fantastical character is that it cannot be near as enchanting. In fact the storyline behind this book is sad and depressing. Nonetheless, it is a good rainy day read and a refreshing perspective on the childhood classic Alice and Wonderland.

    1 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted February 21, 2010

    Easy and Fun Read

    I enjoyed reading "Alice I Have Been" particularly because of the mix of confirmed history and rumor. The author has blended the two to weave a stimulating story that keeps you wondering about the Real Alice long after you close the book.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 13, 2014

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 23, 2014

    SWORD

    (===)::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::> Awesome right?

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 20, 2014

    interesting

    an easy read, interesting take on subject

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 18, 2014

    Hi i like food

    Poop is brown

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 14, 2014

    Joe

    I loved it

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