Vanessa Tait, great-granddaughter of the Alice who inspired Alice's Adventures in Wonderland, tells the fascinating story of the childhood classic's strange beginnings through the eyes of a naive and deceived governess.
What happened before Alice fell down the rabbit hole?
Oxford, 1862. As Mary Prickett takes up her post as governess to the daughters of the Dean of Christ Church, she is thrust into a strange new world. Mary is poor and plain and desperate for change but the little girls in her care see and understand far more than their naive new teacher. And there is another problem: Mary does not like children, especially the precocious Alice Liddell.
When Mary meets Charles Dodgson, the Christ Church mathematics tutor, at a party at the Deanery, she wonders if he may be the person to transform her life. Flattered by his attentions, Mary begins to believe that she could be more than just an overlooked, dowdy governess.
One sunny day, as Mary chaperones the Liddells on a punting trip, Mr Dodgson tells the story of Alice's Adventures in Wonderland. But Mary is determined to become Mr Dodgson's muse and will turn all the lives around her topsy-turvy in pursuit of her obsession.
The story of Alice, but not really, it was the story of Alice's governess, and in turn about Alice.
Mary is from a poor family, but finds herself lucky to become a governess to the Lidell children. Maybe she even can find a match for herself.
Fiction and history is mixed since we can't know everything for sure. Mary is pretty blind at times, but she was a woman of her time. She fell for Hodgson, and thought he liked her back. She also disliked Alice a lot since Alice stole the attention she wanted. Of course she never questioned why a grown man wants to spend so much time with a kid. So she was jealous, blind, but still yes I got that she wanted more from her life.
Alice then. We only see Alice through Mary's eyes, and Alice is a spoiled child who gets way too much attention and revels in it. I can't say I liked Alice, but then, would she have been liked that if she had not been told how special she was? Oh and sidenote, I found it so interesting to see what happened to Alice when she grow up. There is another story there!
Right, the elephant in the room. We can't know, but really, he took those pics, he wrote creepy letters. Yeah. And little by little he gets creepier and creepier. Just by things he says when you think about it.
I thought it was interesting, and so creepy, about the historical explanation why he could spend time with kids. He could not have spent time with a young woman, that would have been wrong. But little girls that was ok in those times. Cos yes, who would do anything wrong? No one is that weird..right.
It was an fascinating look at the family. And I totally think there should be a book about Alice as a woman.
Hardcover, 304 pages
Published July 2nd 2015 by Corvus