Friday, March 11, 2011

Alice I have Been

I finished reading Alice I Have Been about 10 days ago, but wanted to wait so that it was closer to the 15th to start the discussion. I really enjoyed this book -- probably one of the rare books that Vaishali and I are agreeing upon. 
I'm in the middle of professional chaos these days, so don't really have time to write about it, and I thought it would be nice for someone other than myself to start the topic ... so I'm not going to talk abt it in detail, but here are a list of questions I found on the website for the book. 
If we had an actual book club (and not just a virtual one!) then we could've had the author join the book club discussion!
Anyway, we can choose whichever questions seem interesting, or discuss things on our own. 

  1. What social forces motivate each of the characters to deny Dodgson's inappropriate attention to Alice?
  2. Alice became famous through no fault of her own. Can you come up with a modern day version of Alice? How do their lives compare?
  3. Alice refuses to read Alice in Wonderland until she is well into her eighties. Why do you think she avoids reading the story she inspired?
  4. The relationships between Alice and her sisters Ina and Edith range from rivalry to a life-long bond. What effects do these have on Alice, and what are the consequences?
  5. What part of the book speaks to you and your experiences in life?
  6. How does Benjamin take both the reader and Alice from ignorance and denial to the self-realization of her complicity in the ruptured friendship with Rev. Dodgson? Is this believable?
  7. While Alice's sister lies dying, Mama asks Alice "Why couldn't it be you? You've never brought me anything but pain, while she has brought me nothing but joy." What kind of effect do you think this has on Alice for the rest of her life? Did it affect the way Alice thought of her own children?
  8. The photos Lewis Carroll (or the Rev. Charles Lutwidge Dodgson) took of Alice Liddell capture a look that can be described as wise beyond her years—what do you think is behind that look?
  9. How much did the Victorian setting play a role in this book?
  10. Before reading Benjamin's novel, had you already read Alice's Adventures in Wonderland? If so, does it make you want to read it again? Why or why not?
  11. What do you think of an author writing a biographical novel using only notes and references and filling in the gaps with intelligent supposition?

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