Since I'm designing a pair of socks themed on Alice in Wonderland for my Heroines club this year, this book, Alice I Have Been, caught my eye. The book is a fictious account of events of Alice Liddell Hargreaves's life, both as a young girl (when she was the inspiration for Lewis Carroll's Alice in Wonderland story), through her early 20s, and then as an older women in the early 20th century.
She was the daughter of the Dean of Christ Church college, and her family's home was directly across from Charles Dodgson's, aka Lewis Carroll's rooms (he taught mathematics at the college). Dodgson apparently spent a lot of time with the the Liddell sisters, taking them for picnics with their nanny, and boating on the Thames. He also focused on Alice (and other girls her age) as the subject of several photographs he took of the little girls dressed as gypsies and fairies.
There's a lot of speculation about Dodgson's relationship with Alice, and hers with him. The author hints at several possibilities, but the truth and facts are not known what exactly transpired to cause a break between Dodgson and Alice's family the year Alice was 11. (Her mother burned all her letters to and from Dodgson, and his family tore out and destroyed pages of his diaries from those years after his death.) What IS known is that he created a whimiscal story for Alice at the age of 7, which immortalized her as "that" Alice, which she begged for him to write down in a book for her, and which became the children's classic we all know.
The second two-thirds of the book deal with her relationship (there is some discussion it was not Alice, but her sister, Edith, who died in her late teens) with Queen VIctoria's youngest son, Leopold, who was a student at Christ Church, as well as her later marriage to "Regi", who fathered her three sons, two of whom they lost on the battlefields of WWI.
From the description of Alice in this book, she was always somewhat of an old soul, but at the same time very much trapped by what she perceived to be her inability to move beyond the Alice of the story. It's hard to say from the book whether she really was treated that way by the people around her - as some sort of regressed 7-year-old her entire life, or whether that was how she perceived herself. Alice Hargreaves lived into her 80s, and it was really only in the latter years of her life she apparently was able to embrace the little girl Dodgson created in his tale of her adventures, if this book is true.
I would give this one 3-1/2 stars. I enjoyed the concept of this book - I usually like books that "fill in the gaps" with imagined details from the missing parts of a historic figures life. I just wasn't sure I liked the profile painted of Alice. She seemed kind of a bitter person her entire life, waiting for things to be different, or to be better. Maybe that was the reality of who she was - certainly that was the feeling I got from this author's recreation of the details of her life.
All for now...