‘Weary of her storybook, one “without pictures or conversations,” the young and imaginitive[sic] Alice follows a hasty hare underground — to come face-to-face with some of the strangest adventures and most fantastic characters in all of literature. The Ugly Duchess, the Mad Hatter, the weeping Mock Turtle, the diabolical Queen of Hearts, the Cheshire Cat — each more eccentric than the last — could only have come from that master of sublime nonsense, Lewis Carroll. In penning this brilliant burlesque of children’s literature, this farcical satire of rigid Victorian society, this arresting parody of the fears, anxieties, and complexities of growing up, Carroll was one of the few adult writers to enter successfully the children’s world of make-believe, where the impossible becomes possible, the unreal, real, and where the heights of adventure are limited only by the depths of imagination’
I said when I hauled this book that I was amazed that I had’nt read it yet. I am obsessed with whimiscal, fairytale inspired adventures and Alice in Wonderland is the original and the best.
The first thing the struck me about this book is that although it was clearly written for children, Carroll does’nt talk (or write) down to them. This, I feel, is unusual in childrens books, usually children are force fed ideas about morality and being good or evil and are protected from anything that seems odd or scary. Alice in Wonderland does’nt preach or simplify any idea, and I feel that is what makes this book so special. It confronts weirdness and oddity head on, and celebrates it. I feel that this is the books message for children – that it’s ok to be weird and different.
The main character – Alice – is also a gem. She is a bright, inquistitive girl who has bundles of personality and even a hundred years after the book was first published, still seems fresh and is easily relatable. I loved her character development from Wonderland to Through the Looking Glass – she seemed so much more accepting of new ideas and the strangness that inhabits Carrol’s world. The other characters in the novels were, of course stand out. The Cheshire Cat was my particular favourite, and I loved Carroll’s description of his disappearance – the only bit of him remaining being his signature grin.My favourite quote from the book, and I think one that sums up both the books and Carrols vivid imagination and storytelling ability was: ‘“I dare say you haven’t had much practice,” said the queen. “When I was your age, I always did it for half an hour a day. Why, sometimes I’ve believed as many as six impossible things before breakfast.”’
The plot, like the character’s was also absolutley bonkers. I loved that it was’nt the typical quest plot of a children’s fantasy, but rather Alice exploring, and happening upon situations. The plot was driven by characters – who Alice met and what they were like – and not the other way round. I liked the plot, although it was’nt supenseful or dramatic it was calming and unusual in terms of what you read in books today. I wish we had met the Queen of Hearts a little earlier, just so the conflict between her and Alice seemed bigger and more climatic.
As per usual I am obsessed with style of writing, and I felt that Carrols hit the mark perfectly. His frequent poems were beautifully written and often very funny, and his wry remarks throughout both novels made me chuckle.
I absolutely loved these books and I will definitely be reading them again. They have givn me so much inspiration for my writing – I hope to incorporate some whimsical nonsence in my story! Alice is a wonderful heroine and I reccomend these books to those who love humour, fantasy, silliness, imagination and fun! I give it a five out of five.
Laura 🙂 xx