Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll
4 stars – I liked it; it was good
In my youth, I attended an Alice in Wonderland-themed birthday party for one of my friends and it was amazing. Granted, it was for the movie, but I’ve since watched the movie, and with everything that’s been happening with Johnny Depp (The Hatter) lately, I figured I’d finally read the book that the movie is based on. I started reading it on May 30, 2022.
Finished on May 31, 2022.
Curiouser and Curiouser!
Alice is sitting quietly with her sister, falling further and further into sleep when suddenly a white rabbit dressed in fine clothes hops by her in quite a hurry. She follows the rabbit down his hole and finds herself tumbling into a wacky world full of mad creatures.
I went into this book fully expecting it to be bizarre, and it did not disappoint! The illustrations in my copy (by John Tenniel) showcased a strange style and hilarious characters. The plot moved along without any sort of linear fashion, and it was quite dreamlike in the description, with Alice being in one place then suddenly another, with her forgetting lines to songs she knows well, and with characters either fully agreeing or blatantly disagreeing with her.
This book is written in third-person perspective, and while it has a lot of Alice’s inner monologue (which I normally hate because it’s rarely done well) I’d say it was done well here. It fits with the style and language seen throughout the book, and there was a good balance between Alice’s thoughts and the words that she speaks aloud.
Pacing went along smoothly. Since it’s a short story, Alice moved from place to place in every chapter, but it didn’t seem rushed or drawn out. Each of the twelve chapters showed Alice interacting with new, mad characters, and none of the interactions seemed out of place or unnecessary, as there were numerous callbacks throughout the story. As with dreams, the characters moved in and out of her story almost at random, and Alice did things and thought things in the way that dreamers do: with full acceptance. Growing and shrinking? She found it interesting—if a bit inconvenient at times. The assortment of human-handed animals and the living deck of cards? Bizarre, but nothing to throw a fit over. Alice walks through Wonderland like she owns the place, with all the sense of ownership and entitlement of a snotty child, all the while still being an endearing main character.
The Hatter’s peculiarity goes above and beyond; it almost seems like he can’t hold a conversation and yet it still works (up until the point Alice just walks away out of annoyance). Something funny I found out recently is that in the original books by Lewis Carroll, he was never once called “The Mad Hatter”. He’s simply “Hatter” (or “Hatta” in The Looking Glass). I guess the name just stuck over time. Another fun fact is that back in the day, hatters often went mad because of mercury poisoning (mercury was used in the making of hats); this is clearly part of the inspiration for the famous character.
There are so many other characters, too, that are memorable, such as the March Hare, the White Rabbit, the Duchess and her Cheshire Cat, the Mock Turtle, and even Bill the Lizard.
I think this book should be read by everyone at least once, as it’s a fun tale and an interesting adventure.