Review: After Alice by Gregory Maguire
After Alice by Gregory Maguire, the bestselling author of WICKED, is a wonderful retelling of what happened next after Alice disappeared down the rabbit hole. An entertaining spin on Lewis Caroll’s classic tale of Alice in Wonderland, this novel will delight fans of Angela Carter.
When Alice fell down the rabbit-hole, she found Wonderland as rife with inconsistent rules and abrasive egos as the world she left behind. But how did Victorian Oxford react to Alice’s disappearance?
Gregory Maguire turns his 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 mentioned briefly in Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, sets out to visit Alice but, arriving a moment too late, 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 bring her safely home from this surreal world below the world. The White Rabbit, the Cheshire Cat and the bloodthirsty Queen of Hearts interrupt their mad tea party to suggest a conundrum: if Eurydice can ever be returned to the arms of Orpheus, or if Lazarus can be raised from the tomb, perhaps Alice can be returned to life.
Either way, everything that happens next is After Alice.
I’m a huge fan of Gregory Maguire’s more twisted and unusual take on fairy tales, with his eloquent prose and intelligent take on the story he is retelling. I have been reading and enjoying his books for about twenty years now and he is in my opinion the master when it comes to re-imagining fairy tales.
With After Alice, Maguire has taken a new take on the Alice in Wonderland story by taking the story of Ada, a friend of Alice’s who is briefly mentioned in Carrol’s original, and expanding on it as she follow’s Alice down the rabbit hole and following the story of Lydia, Alice’s sister as she searches for Alice and Ada while the two families grow more concerned during the day.
Maguire has embraced the Victorian language for the chapters in Oxford, and the lilting rhyme of wonderland for the scenes with Ada in Wonderland. The Wonderland characters we meet are the lesser known characters, breathing a fresh life into them as Ada looks for Alice, who doesn’t appear in the book until the final pages.
This isn’t a book about Alice directly but is still very much focused on Alice and where she may be, we learn much about her personality, her temperament, her family, and the kind of friend she is.
This is a wonderful read, and whilst I’m not someone who is one of the world’s huge fans of Alice in Wonderland I’ve certainly read it many times and felt this was a lovely accompaniment to it.
I also feel I have to make a comment on the cover, which is easily one of the most beautiful covers I have seen this year.
A huge thanks to Gregory Maguire and Headline Publishing Group for the ARC via BookBridgr so that I could read and honestly review this book.
Rating: 4 of 5 Stars
Title: After Alice
Author: Gregory Maguire
Genre: Retellings, Fairy Tale, Historical Fiction, Fantasy
Publisher: Headline Publishing Group
Publication Date: 5 July 2016
Review Format: Paperback
Other Formats: eBook | Audio
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