Here is something you should never do: start reading a book from the library, one which happens to have a hold list a mile long, the day before that book is due. The libraries around here are pretty tolerant; no fines, easy online renewal, but, if a book has holds on it, you had damn well better get it back on time or they get positively cranky.
The book in question here is Alice I Have Been by Melanie Benjamin.
My friend Cindy had taken this book out unbeknownst to me. I stumbled across it one day while in search of something to read and, as I had heard so much about the book and know Melanie from Backspace, I decided to give it a read. I got about a third into the book when I was told it was due back that very day. With great reluctance, I headed off to the Newberry branch and dropped the book off, immediately putting myself on the hold list.
I finally got it back the other day and have spent the last two reading it cover to cover, despite the fact that I have my own manuscript I’m suppose to be working on along with gearing up for the imminent release of Stealing The Marbles.
I will admit I had a bit of a hard time getting into it at first. Alice I Have Been is not my usual genre of reading material. But I persevered and OH MY am I glad I did.
What a charming, beautifully wrought story about the little girl who inspired Alice In Wonderland and, more importantly, the story of her life afterward. This is a blend of fact and fiction so tightly woven together that I found myself ‘curiouser and curiouser’ as to what was which, or which was what. I found myself laughing with the child Alice and feeling the frustrations of the constraints put upon her by her place in Victorian England. And later, as the adult Alice, I followed the twists and turns of her life with a mixture of mirth, joy and sadness.
This is a compelling read, one you shouldn’t miss. Bravo Melanie Benjamin.