Back down the rabbit hole
released OUT NOW! 246 pages | Hardback/ebook Author Gregory Maguire Publisher Headline
This year marks 150 years since the first publication of Alice’s Adventures In Wonderland. It’s certainly easy to see why a publisher might want a new novel featuring Lewis Carroll’s characters, but who would have the audacity to tackle such a project?
Step forward Gregory Maguire, whose Wicked riffed off a key work of American fantasy, L Frank Baum’s The Wonderful Wizard Of Oz, telling the story of the Witch of the West. Wicked went on to become both a bestseller in its own right and a blockbuster musical. Whether the same will happen for After Alice is far from certain – and not just because Lewis Carroll’s characters and scenarios so often seem to defy efforts at adaptation.
That’s not to say this slim volume is a bad novel. Or unambitious. Far from it. Other writers might have been content to follow Alice on a third trip – the word is, of course, apposite, and that’s the first and last what-wasLewis-Carroll-smoking? joke we propose to make – into Wonderland. Instead, Maguire opts to have Alice’s friend, Ada (mentioned briefly in Wonderland), explore the same strange environs.
He also splits the action. Chapters in which we get to know Ada through her experiences down the rabbit hole meeting the likes of the Cheshire Cat, the Mad Hatter and the White Queen are interspaced with chapters set in Victorian Oxford. Here, Alice’s older sister, Lydia, and Ada’s governess, Miss Armstrong, worry about what’s happened to the two girls. An ageing Charles Darwin is on a visit to Oxford. We also meet a former slave, a lad named Siam, and his guardian. It’s often these chapters that work best, as Maguire conjures up a vision of
Perhaps it helps to have read Alice’s Adventures recently