Thursday, November 5, 2015
After Alice by Gregory Maguire
--Gregory Maguire, After Alice
In this novel released 150 years after the publication of Alice In Wonderland, Gregory Maguire gives us a further look into the world of Alice, Oxford and the wonders that surround us that we aren't aware of. While there are characters from the original such as Alice herself, the Cheshire Cat, the Queen, the Mad Hatter and the rabbit, there are also many new characters through whose eyes we see what transpired that day that Alice fell down the rabbit hole.
There is Alice's big sister, Lydia, charged with watching over her but much more concerned with her newly maturing outlook on life at fifteen. When Alice disappears, she tends to be blase, sure that Alice will eventually reemerge. There is Ada, Alice's best friend, who also falls down the rabbit hole while searching for her friend. There are many other characters such as Siam, an escaped slave boy from America, Miss Armstrong the governess and Mr. Winter who has helped Siam escape and has brought him to England.
We also get a glimpse of Oxford in the 1860's. It is a rigid world started to have its strictures broken by the explosion of new scientific breakthroughs. Charles Darwin plays a part in the story and we also see the social boundaries between servant and master and between the genders start to stretch and become a bit more flexible.
Maguire is interested in beginnings and in how something may not be what it seems but what is needed at the moment. There are themes of being lost and then found and of myriad starts and stops as a new trail is forged and new understandings are reached. All are served up with a liberal dose of the whimsy and humor found in the original novel. This novel is recommended for Gregory Maguire fans, fans of the original Alice and readers ready for some lighthearted fun.