Sunday, March 27, 2011

Alice I have liked

Alice as the Gypsy girl

Interesting -- two for two where I have the complete opposite taste as Charitha in a book.

Well, I'm glad both you and Ferah responded to the book, as me and Vaish were starting to get depressed that the book club had turned into BSBC (Bhardwaj Sisters' Book Club) ... but, no! We have real members!

Charitha, I agree with you that it was really disappointing when the spunky 7 year old grew into the conservative teenager. But I didn't feel disappointed with the author, but to me it was just a reality of what societal pressures do to you. She would find herself worrying about those same things that her mother and sister had always wanted her to be aware of, which she thought were totally frivolous when she was 7. I didn’t think it was her taking the incident ‘lying down,’ but more that she didn’t even fully understand what the incident was. And then part of her realized that if she told her mother that Mr. Dodgy was innocent in the kiss – that would mean that she, Alice, was the guilty party … and she was smart enough to realize that THAT would not make the situation any better for her. So it was better to let them think that Mr. Dodgson had victimized her, rather than her being the aggressor … it’s like a kid thinking they’ll get in trouble if their parents find out that they broke the expensive lamp … so just let them think that the dog knocked it over (sorry to compare Mr. Dodgson to a dog, lol).

Ferah, I hadn’t actually seen the gypsy girl photo the entire time when reading the novel, Vaish showed it to me just the other day. And I didn’t even realize that these were real people – I thought it was the author’s imagination to create a ‘real Alice’ and ‘real Lewis Carrol,’ although I believe a lot of it was fictionalized. And I don’t think my Kindle had these author’s notes you were talking about??  I can believe that the Victorian era viewed children in a different way as compared to what we’re seeing this as … having said that, I think it was always presumed that Mr. Dodgson’s interest in Alice was a little extraordinary – which was why it fueled such anger in her older sister and the nanny as well. Her older sister was a right twat (said in a British accent).

I liked watching her transition into a young woman, and especially liked the romance with the Prince, though I was really irritated with her that she succumbed to Mr. Ruskin’s blackmail to take ‘art classes’ with him. I actually found her a little less interesting as an adult, because I guess at that point I kind of felt like ‘Shouldn’t you have already gotten over your insecurity about the Dodgson issue?’ But for her, it shaped so much of her life, and she never confronted it … always skirted around it. I liked the scene when she went back to visit Mr. Dodgson with her three sons. I thought it was tragic how she viewed this man as an adult, as compared to how perfect he seemed to her when she was 7. And I felt her anger when Mr. Dodgson didn’t see that Alice turned out all right. I also felt particularly angry towards Mr. Dodgson when he said something to the effect of ‘Do you see why I don’t like little boys?’ He was saying something about how they have to grow into being young men … but to me it just reminded me of his weird pedophilia all over again.

I think the quote about stealing her Wonderland, was really on point. He stole a part of her life by exposing her in those photos, and she inexorably became scarred from Dodgson’s presence in her life. But I think she did the same for him. Her advances towards him also scarred him – because he was also chastised by this influential family, and I think he turned into a sad, lonely person after that whole incident. What I found interesting is that Alice mentioned that her mother begged Alice’s father to fire Dodgson from the University, but he never did … and Alice never understood why. I wonder … was this a chauvinistic thing where the father did not feel the pain or importance of the ‘stain’ on Alice’s character caused by this incident … or was there a part of him that seriously doubted that all that had happened was as dramatic as the ladies were making it out to be?

Anyway, I did really enjoy the book – more than I had expected. But it’s interesting to hear the certain things I liked about the book are the exact same things that you didn’t like in the book!


  1. Antara, our Kindle version does have the author's notes. You probably just didn't go far enough forward after the end of the book. You should definitely read that because it tells you what's true and what's made up. Turns out a lot of stuff is pretty accurate except really what transpired to make Dodgson and Alice estranged.

    I agree with a lot of the points Antara made. Particularly the one about societal pressure causing her to act in a certain way. I felt that as a 7 year old, she was idealistic and assumed that she would just be different from her sisters and not conform to society's standards of being 'girly' and 'proper.' As she got older, it was apparent that there's no real way to survive in a society without conforming, as made apparent by the incident between her and Mr. Dodgson. She made a small mistake as an 11 year old which followed her forever. However dramatic she seemed to be about the situation, it really didn't allow her to marry the man she wanted, and made her mother think she was tainted (for lack of better word).

    Speaking of which, I'd be intrigued to discuss how much of her situation is due to daddy issues and, for that matter, mommy issues. She seemed to not derive any love from either throughout her life.

  2. lol Vaish, this is the second time you've brought up Daddy issues in this discussion. So tell me then, why did her Dad not fire Mr. Dodgson after all this??

  3. omg, I just wrote a long response it it said 'it couldn't fulfill my request.' story of my life!

    anyway, basically I said that I don't think there were any Daddy issues because Victorian-era parents were encouraged to be distant -- "it builds character." The relationship between Alice and her parents was not out of place with that time period. I think Alice was enchanted by Mr. Dodgson because he was an adult that had the ability to relate to children, a quality that was markedly different from the other adults in her life.

    If anything, her relationship with her mother was an extremely strained one. I found it interesting that her mother specifically requested Alice, at that young age, to support her during childbirth, but after the death of the baby, returned to ignoring Alice. I kept hoping that the author would try to show us the good side of the mother, to try and redeem her character, but she never really fulfilled it.

  4. Yeah ... why did she suddenly like Alice for that short period? Also, she said several times that Alice was a lot like her, and Alice as an adult said the same thing.

    I read the Author's comments last night, and it definitely sparked my interest all over again in the book. There were theories that he asked to marry Alice, or that he was in love with Ina, the nanny, or even the mother herself! That one seems most unlikely to me -- but I believe the only letter that does exist is the one that Ina wrote to Alice asking if she remembers the incident -- that Dodgson's behavior had become too friendly and he was asked to hang out with them a little less ... too bad those original letters to Alice were destroyed, and it'll forever remain a mystery!
    Anyway, I feel like reading Alice in Wonderland now!