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Tuesday, October 27, 2015
2:52 pm edt
After Alice Told from the perspectives of Ada, briefly mentioned in Alice in Wonderland,
and Lydia, Alice’s older sister, After Alice explores and exposes the mores and cultural nuances of Oxford
in the mid-1860s – just as true and meaningful today as the were 150 years ago. Capitalizing on Carroll’s initial
intentions and his own astute follow-up research, Macguire, as always, cleverly intertwines multi-faceted themes into a multi-layered
plot line whose twists and turns rival that of Alice’s proverbial underground pathways.
My friend Alice is 153
years old. Not a bad age for someone who, “all on a golden afternoon,” fell down an Oxford rabbit hole in 1862
and spent the most bizarre day chasing a talking hare, taking tea with a mad hatter, cavorting with thorny roses, and staving
off the murderous intentions of a crazed Red Queen. With the first publication of her adventures in 1865, still retaining
ten years of age, she has been shaking up literary and entertainment worlds every since.
I am speaking, of course,
of Alice Liddell, the eponymous young girl to whom Charles Lutwidge Dodgson, alias Lewis Carroll, first began relating the
stories of what would become the famous and much loved, and often over-played, Alice in Wonderland and Through
the Looking Glass. I write “over-played” because there have been literally hundreds of re-writes, parodies,
tellings, and re-tellings in an untold myriad of formats that mostly, while often delightful fun fare for children, only scratch
the surface of her timeless tales.
None of the rehashes adequately go behind – beneath, if you will –
the true, um, more mature nature of Carroll’s stories. Most overlook the meaning of cunning metaphors, allegories, “in”
jokes, puns, parodies, and commentaries on adult life in Victorian England. They have all, sadly, “missed the point”,
failing to eat the right side of the mushroom, as it were, to “get it just right”.
But then, now
along comes After Alice – just released today! –by Gregory Maguire, our own time-honored, modern-day
storyteller, who, years ago, gave us Wicked, his iconic first novel about OZ. Once again, Macguire takes his “worpal”
pen in hand and masterfully explores the depths of yet another classic tale. And, with precise wit and an easy-reading lilting
writing style, finally gives Lewis Carroll and his narratives their intellectual due.
Pursued by Mrs.
Armstrong Headstrong, Ada has her own adventures as she chases through Wonderland after Alice. Throughout the escapades, there
are running commentaries, including a back story of slavery; a treatise on Oxford culture; expositions on Biblical stories
[Ada’s father is an Anglican vicar]; a host of literary allusions; specifics of Darwinism [we meet “the Great
one himself]; overtones of adulthood versus childishness; and, of course, the usual puns, allegories, plays on words, and
nonsensical, sensible jokes. It is obvious that this cunningly ingeniously inventive author had, with a glint in his eye,
loads of fun writing what will quickly become the definitive best selling adult sequel to Carroll’s children’s
When Alice first tumbled down the hole into adult foibles and obvious obliviousness, she lost not only
a sense of herself but the sense and meaning of time. Which is precisely what happens when I wander into a Macguire book [I’ve
read them all at least twice!]; always captivated in and by his writing. After Alice is no exception. In its entertaining
as well as enlightening pages “Time slips all of its handcuffs.” And, as it did, I enjoyed yet another eternally
enjoyable romp through the wonder lands of Gregory Macguire’s unique talents and vivid imagination.
Birthday, Alice! After Alice is the perfect way to celebrate your anniversary. As the Mad Hatter says, “Now
that’s my cup of tea!”
J. McInerney, the host of this Literary Blog, is
an author, poet, and librettist. Her currenty published works include a novel, a book of spiritual inspirations,
volumes of poetry, stories
for children (of all ages) and
a variety of children's musicals. Her titles include:
Monster: A Novel of Phoenixville in 1978
The Prisoner's Portrait: A Novel of Phoenxville
during World War II
Rainbow in the Sky
Meditations for New Members
of Oreigh Ogglefont
The Basset Chronicles.
Cats of Nine Tales
Water: A Collection of Poems
Exodus Ending: A
Collection of More Spiritual Poems
We Three Kings
Beauty and the Beast
Peter, Wolf, and Red Riding
Originally from the New York metropolitan area, June currently lives near Valley Forge Park in Pennsylvania with her constant and loving companions, FrankieBernard and Sebastian Cat. She
is currently working on her fourth novel.