After Alice by Grebory Maguire
When Alice toppled down the rabbit-hole 150 years ago, she found a Wonderland as rife with inconsistent rules and abrasive egos as the world she left behind. But what of that world? How did 1860s Oxford react to Alice’s disappearance?
Publication date: July 5, 2016
Publisher: William Morrow
Paperback: 304 pages
Source: Publisher for an honest review
From the multi-million-copy bestselling author of Wicked comes a magical new twist on Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, published to coincide with the 150th anniversary of Lewis’s Carroll’s beloved classic.
In this brilliant work of fiction, Gregory Maguire turns his dazzling imagination to the question of underworlds, undergrounds, underpinnings—and understandings old and new, offering an inventive spin on Carroll’s enduring tale. Ada, a friend of Alice’s mentioned briefly in Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, is off to visit her friend, but arrives a moment too late—and tumbles down the rabbit-hole herself.
Ada brings to Wonderland her own imperfect apprehension of cause and effect as she embarks on an odyssey to find Alice and see her safely home from this surreal world below the world. If Eurydice can ever be returned to the arms of Orpheus, or Lazarus can be raised from the tomb, perhaps Alice can be returned to life. Either way, everything that happens next is “After Alice.”
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After Alice by Gregory Maguire is as clever, playful, and thought provoking as I expected. Why would anyone want to read about Alice's friend Ada, though? Well, I didn't know either, but it turns out that Ada was actually a smart and charming young girl - once she figured that out herself.
Ada is not Alice - she is not a beautiful, blond little girl who "goes off with the fairies" - Ada lacks grace and beauty and maybe even imagination. But Ada is quite smart and practical. Ada's household is in an uproar because of her new baby brother - of whom she is not quite sure she approves. The baby is always crying, her mother has not recovered from the birth and her father is unwilling to engage with the family. Miss Armstrong, the not-really-capable nanny is unhappy and irritated by Ada and her place in the household and society as a whole.
Ada is sent to play with Alice who has managed to get lost - again. In After Alice, Alice seems like a flighty little thing who often goes missing. Ada, on the other hand, is plodding and clumsy and despite this, goes in search of her only friend, Alice. At first, it appears that Ada will follow Alice and simply retell the same story - but, instead, Ada's own perspective of her adventure gives the whole place and all the characters a different and, maybe needed, shift in the storytelling.
Alongside Ada's adventures, the reader gets to learn about Alice's sister Lydia and Miss Armstrong as they search for the missing girls. There is much discussion of both girls and the social situations of the women in society, as well as political and ethical issues, including slavery.
There is much going for After Alice - the words - oh the words! There is the playfulness and cleverness that one would expect, of course. And I actually appreciated the story line involving the 'real' world - with all the social commentary about issues of the time. And Ada - Ada is quite an interesting girl.
I wish I had had the time to read After Alice along with Alice in Wonderland, because I think it would have been an even better experience. I am seriously considering adding After Alice to my kids' reading list - right after Alice in Wonderland. I think that After Alice will appeal to lovers of Alice in Wonderland (naturally), as well as those readers who enjoy analyzing literature and like to read clever, playful, and fun novels.
About Gregory MaguireGregory Maguire is the New York Times bestselling author of Confessions of an Ugly Stepsister; Lost; Mirror Mirror; and the Wicked Years, a series that includesWicked, Son of a Witch, A Lion Among Men, and Out of Oz. Now a beloved classic, Wicked is the basis for a blockbuster Tony Award–winning Broadway musical. Maguire has lectured on art, literature, and culture both at home and abroad. He lives with his family near Boston, Massachusetts.
Find out more about Maguire at his website and follow him on Facebook.