The Alice Behind Wonderland by Simon Winchester, narrated by Simon Winchester
Published in audio by Harper Audio, published in print by Oxford University Press
There exists a photograph of a young girl, taken in the summer of 1858 at Oxford. The girl is the six year old daughter of Dean Liddell, dressed in the clothes of a beggar child and looking beguilingly at the camera. The photo is somewhat disconcerting – a half-dressed girl staring with the eyes of a woman – but would be largely unremarkable if this was not the same girl who would become immortalized in literary history for a story about a young girl bearing her name who has an adventure in Wonderland.
In The Alice Behind Wonderland, Simon Winchester explores the real people behind Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, Charles Dodgson (aka, Lewis Carroll) and Alice Liddell.
Thoughts on the story:
Other than the fact that the title is slightly misleading – Winchester spends more time delving into Dodgson’s life than Alice’s – The Alice Behind Wonderland is a very informative work of nonfiction. Winchester goes in-depth into Dodgson’s life, both before and after Alice, including a fascinating aside into the early days of photography.
Thoughts on the audio production:
I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again, I simply adore Simon Winchester narrating his own work. Really, if he decides to stop writing he could just narrate full time, nonfiction in particular. Winchester comes across as a charismatic scholar whose passion for his own research is infectious.
An intriguing story, and one that is both well organized and well narrated. Recommended.
After reading The Alice Behind Wonderland, if you are interested in more on Charles Dodgson and Alice Liddell, pick up Melanie Benjamin’s Alice I Have Been for a fictionalized account of their story.
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