What better way to celebrate the real Alice of Lewis Carroll’s super-famous story than with a gloriously lush picture book? C. M. Rubin and her daughter, Gabriella, possess the gracious and well-mannered charm of their ancestor, Alice Liddell Hargreaves. Together, they have created a book worthy of serious consideration, especially by adults who cherish their memories of Alice in Wonderland.
Regardless of whether the reader was introduced to Alice, Dinah, the Red Queen and the Mad Hatter in the Walt Disney movie or a traditional printed book, the magic of Alice’s adventures easily captured the imagination of legions of children. The quotes and illustrations from the story trigger memories of a time when this reviewer would turn the pages of an abbreviated, illustrated Disney version of the story while listening to the accompanying 78 RPM records on a portable phonograph. It was a time for fantasy and make-believe!
The format is very well thought out. The large pages provide an ample surface on which to arrange the many graphic examples of Victorian ephemera, family photographs and letters that flowed throughout Alice’s life. The careful attention to detail and the artful layout are consistent with the talent Alice displayed in her watercolor paintings.
The account of Alice’s adult life is poignant and at the same time life-affirming. After having been the focus of so much attention and curiosity as a child, Alice Liddell might have easily become a self-absorbed woman. Instead, she honored the place that she holds in the hearts of both the young and the not-so-young. As the authors note, she was a role model and an exemplary woman of her time.
It would have been easy for the Rubins to use the story of the real Alice to further their own link to fame. Fortunately, they resisted the urge and have created a lovely homage to a woman who needed to have the written versions of the stories told to her by her friend Charles Dodgson/Lewis Carroll. The book would make an elegant gift regardless of the occasion.
This book is highly recommended for the quality of the writing, layout and execution.
This review was written by Ruta Arellano. A review copy was received from the authors.