Wednesday, June 29, 2016
Review: After Alice
Title: After Alice
Author: Gregory Maguire
Date(s) Read: Jan 7-8, 2016
Published to coincide with the 150th anniversary of Lewis Carroll's beloved classic Alice in Wonderland we follow Ada, a friend of Alice's briefly mentioned in the original tale, in her own plummet down the rabbit hole. Ada wishes to see Alice restored back to life in Oxford. Can she do it?
Alright. So, I am a HUGE fan of Gregory Maguire's Wicked series. Hands down some of my favorite books to read and indulge in...because I might have a teensy, tiny obsession with Oz. Tiny.. Yup. That's an acceptable word. Said as she hides multiple copies of Wicked, her entire collection of the original classic...
Moving on! This is After Alice, not Wicked.
I honestly went in to this book with quite a few high expectations. Gregory Maguire did quite well with Wicked, however, this book kinda left a bit of a sour taste in my mouth and I cannot even to this day even consider re-reading it right now...perhaps a year or so in the future, but even six months in the future is not enough. Which is sad, because I am such a fan of Alice in Wonderland and have more than once quoted various bits of it in short stories and things that I've written.
There was something I did enjoy about it, and that was the effect of Victorian society on a handful of memorable characters. I am partial to Maguire's writing style, however, I am not entirely sure that it makes me want to recommend this particular book to others. Though, I will say this, his style works well with the Victorian England setting.
The shifting point of views in the chapters made things a bit interesting. One point of view is young Ada, a ten-year-old girl, who is Alice's best friend. Who, of course, escapes the house before her governess realizes it and stumbles into the famed rabbit hole that sent Alice into Wonderland. There, Ada comes into contact with familiar characters: the Queen of Hearts, the Walrus, Humpty Dumpty and even the Cheshire cat. She is looking for Alice, who has of course disappeared - again.
The second pov in this story is that of Lydia, Alice's sister. Lydia had one task - look after her sister. Which, as we all know, she failed. Lydia is, in her adventure, joined by a unique cast of characters: Mr. Darwin (the one and only), Mr. Winter - who is a man from America, Siam - a former slave who had been freed by Mr. Winter and manages to fall through the looking-glass in Alice's house, and Miss Armstrong - who is looking for Ada. These chapters end up being more character study than anything else, but I honestly think that they were some of my more enjoyable interactions of the story.
I have been slightly put off on Alice in Wonderland retellings at least for the time being. Perhaps I will reread the original Lewis Carroll story sometime this year and then hunt for another retelling to see if the magic can be recreated. This is not a whimsical retelling, more so it is a peering into the darker parts of what it means to be human. At the ending, I wasn't entirely sure how to feel or what to feel...it was a mixed bag of emotions and reactions and I think that is why it took so long for the review to be done.