Alice I Have Been by Melanie Benjamin (Audio Review)

Retro Review

Alice I Have Been by Melanie Benjamin
Historical Fiction, 12+ Hours
Few works of literature are as universally beloved as Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland. Now, in this spellbinding historical novel, we meet the young girl whose bright spirit sent her on an unforgettable trip down the rabbit hole–and the grown woman whose story is no less enthralling.

But oh my dear, I am tired of being Alice in Wonderland. Does it sound ungrateful?

Alice Liddell Hargreaves’s life has been a richly woven tapestry: As a young woman, wife, mother, and widow, she’s experienced intense passion, great privilege, and greater tragedy. But as she nears her eighty-first birthday, she knows that, to the world around her, she is and will always be only “Alice.” Her life was permanently dog-eared at one fateful moment in her tenth year–the golden summer day she urged a grown-up friend to write down one of his fanciful stories.

That story, a wild tale of rabbits, queens, and a precocious young child, becomes a sensation the world over. Its author, a shy, stuttering Oxford professor, does more than immortalize Alice–he changes her life forever. But even he cannot stop time, as much as he might like to. And as Alice’s childhood slips away, a peacetime of glittering balls and royal romances gives way to the urgent tide of war.  

For Alice, the stakes could not be higher, for she is the mother of three grown sons, soldiers all. Yet even as she stands to lose everything she treasures, one part of her will always be the determined, undaunted Alice of the story, who discovered that life beyond the rabbit hole was an astonishing journey.

A love story and a literary mystery, Alice I Have Been brilliantly blends fact and fiction to capture the passionate spirit of a woman who was truly worthy of her fictional alter ego, in a world as captivating as the Wonderland only she could inspire.

This was a heartbreaking read but it was one of those books that I found myself drawn into and found it difficult to break myself away from when it was time to take the headphones off and return to reality. I have to admit, it threw me into a bit of a funk.

Despite Alice's well to do lifestyle, her life was filled with disappointment, sadness , missed opportunities and loss. Most of it due to an event in her early childhood. The story of the real Alice who inspired Alice In Wonderland was fascinating though and a great listen on audio but I need to find something frivolous and upbeat before I drown in a pit of despair over here.

My only caveat has to do with the lack of including the author notes in the audio version. Now I'll have to track down the physical book at the library to learn what she had to say and what she might've "embellished" for the book. That's a pain and something I'll probably never get around to doing.

It's worth a listen if you're looking for something to dampen you're too chipper mood.


  1. Sounds like a good read. (I don't often listen to books on tape; I get too impatient at the speed.) I'll have to look for this book at my library. Great review! :)

    1. Thanks, Lark. It was definitely an interesting read.

  2. Is it sad that I like Alice retellings, but the original drove me nuts. In fact, I actually wanted to beam Alice over the head with a stick several times. This sounds like an interesting read though.

    1. Haha, I feel that way about so many fictional heroines :)

  3. Oh wow. That sounds very heavy. I'm thinking I would need a light and fluffy after it, too. Grrr on the author notes. That is annoying.

    1. Yeah, it's kind of depressing. I don't know why I'm drawn to these things.


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