Monday, November 2, 2015

After Alice - Gregory Maguire

After Alice
This week, I'm partnering with TLC Book Tours to bring you a new book every day! They span a wide range of genre, so make sure to check back each day for a new review; you're bound to find something you'll enjoy.

Title: After Alice
Author: Gregory Maguire
Publication Date: 10/27/15
Pages: 288
Genre: Fantasy / Fiction
How I Found It: TLC Book Tours
Date Completed: 10/16/15

Summary: In his now well-known style, Maguire takes a classic tale and approaches it from a completely fresh angle. Timed neatly with the 150th anniversary of Lewis Carroll's classic tale, Maguire sends some new children down the rabbit hole and through the looking glass after Alice, while also capturing the experiences of those above ground who are searching for the missing adventurers. 

What I Thought: When TLC offered me the chance to read Maguire's latest work, I knew I wanted in. I actually haven't read much of his catalog; he has an extensive one. I have only read Wicked - you know, that book that was turned into a hugely successful, Tony-winning musical? I enjoyed the book and I absolutely adore the musical, so I figured another venture into Maguire's unique perspective on classic stories would be fun.

I should have realized right out of the gate that reading Lewis Carroll's classic books Alice in Wonderland and Through the Looking Glass first would have helped immensely. It's hard to appreciate Maguire's work fully if you are unfamiliar with the source material. It's like watching an SNL skit without being up on recent pop culture or news. I, of course, am vaguely familiar with Carroll's work. I know the general story of Alice in Wonderland; I have, after all, seen the Disney adaptation. That, however, is pretty much where my knowledge ends. I have not read the books and I have no clue what happens in Through the Looking Glass, other than a return trip to Wonderland (I think). 

Plus, I cannot even say I like Carroll's stories that much. I think if I read his work, I would enjoy the wit and tongue-in-cheek observations he makes about society, as I enjoy them here in Maguire's work, but, for whatever reason, Wonderland has never appealed to me much. I've preferred other types and genres of fantasy work. Tea served by the Mad Hatter has never quite been right for my cup.

Gregory Maguire
That being said, you can take my thoughts on Maguire's work with a grain of salt. I know that I would enjoy this book more if I took the time to read Carroll's first; they are sitting on a shelf in my house, after all. Even without much familiarity with the details, though, I still enjoyed the book. It came across as good, not great, whereas an Alice fan may very well deem it excellent.

For my part, I actually really enjoyed the secondary storyline taking place outside of Wonderland. Maguire gives us a whole cast of characters back at Alice's home. They don't miss her presence at first because the renowned Charles Darwin happens to be visiting. We don't see much of the scientist, but Maguire includes a delightful plot line for Alice's sister, centering around the household's guests and her increasingly frantic search for Alice. I found these chapters to be charming and a great glimpse into the Victorian era. Queen Victoria herself even makes an appearance in Wonderland, which was my favorite part of young Ada's adventures down the rabbit hole. 

The book is creative and fun and it seems to be classic Maguire. If you like his other works or if you are a Carroll fan, you are certain to enjoy this adventure as well. Just make sure you brush up on Carroll's work and characters first, if you want to get the most possible out of Maguire's.

*To read other bloggers' thoughts on After Alice, check out the full tour schedule.*

Quote I Loved: "'I always wondered if Lazarus wanted to be raised up from the grave,' said Ada. 'He has two sisters who were always arguing over whether to sit and listen to the Savior or whether to do the washing up. Martha and Mary, do you know about them? I always think there must have been a third sister, perhaps named Maggie, who didn't want to join either of her sisters in their worthy tasks, but preferred to get dressed up and go out dancing like a Jezebel. The noise in that house must have been ferocious. the sleep of the dead must have some advantage, don't you think?'"

Rating: ★★★☆☆
Will I Re-Read: Maybe if I ever get around to reading Alice in Wonderland and Through the Looking Glass

A Reduced Review: If you are a Lewis Carroll fan, you'll likely adore this trip into Wonderland; if not, you may prefer to pass on a dizzying trip down the rabbit hole. 

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