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Oxford, 1862. Mary Prickett takes up her post as governess to the daughters of the Dean of Christ Church, but there is a problem: Mary does not like children, especially the precocious Alice Liddell. When Mary meets Charles Dodgson, the mathematics tutor, she is flattered by his attentions. But Mary is determined to become Mr Dodgson's muse - and will turn all the lives ar Oxford, 1862. Mary Prickett takes up her post as governess to the daughters of the Dean of Christ Church, but there is a problem: Mary does not like children, especially the precocious Alice Liddell. When Mary meets Charles Dodgson, the mathematics tutor, she is flattered by his attentions. But Mary is determined to become Mr Dodgson's muse - and will turn all the lives around her topsy-turvy in pursuit of her obsession.


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Oxford, 1862. Mary Prickett takes up her post as governess to the daughters of the Dean of Christ Church, but there is a problem: Mary does not like children, especially the precocious Alice Liddell. When Mary meets Charles Dodgson, the mathematics tutor, she is flattered by his attentions. But Mary is determined to become Mr Dodgson's muse - and will turn all the lives ar Oxford, 1862. Mary Prickett takes up her post as governess to the daughters of the Dean of Christ Church, but there is a problem: Mary does not like children, especially the precocious Alice Liddell. When Mary meets Charles Dodgson, the mathematics tutor, she is flattered by his attentions. But Mary is determined to become Mr Dodgson's muse - and will turn all the lives around her topsy-turvy in pursuit of her obsession.

30 review for The Looking Glass House (Unabridged Audiobook)

  1. 4 out of 5

    Read the bloody book

    Read on Read the Bloody Book Two things drew me to this book: 1) the GORGEOUS cover! and 2) the fact that it was written by Alice Liddell’s (the inspiration for Lewis Carroll’s Alice in Wonderland) great-granddaughter! Exciting! I expected this to be a rich, dark, whimsical tale with some magical realism about the writing of my favourite children’s book. The cover also seemed to hint at this sort of story, but that if definitely not what this story is about. At all. What’s it about:This is the sto Read on Read the Bloody Book Two things drew me to this book: 1) the GORGEOUS cover! and 2) the fact that it was written by Alice Liddell’s (the inspiration for Lewis Carroll’s Alice in Wonderland) great-granddaughter! Exciting! I expected this to be a rich, dark, whimsical tale with some magical realism about the writing of my favourite children’s book. The cover also seemed to hint at this sort of story, but that if definitely not what this story is about. At all. What’s it about:This is the story of the friendship between Lewis Carroll and young Alice Liddell, told through the eyes of the family’s governess, Mary. Mary is a fiercely ambitious woman who is strangely not fond of children at all, especially Alice, of whom she in intensely jealous. This is a book about the uptight standards of manners and propriety of the time and those things make people kind of insane. “If society was made up of people speaking the truth, civilization might come to an end. We need manners.” What I thought: Firstly, I was a bit disappointed that this wasn’t magical realism, it is a pure historical fiction (although inspired by real people and events). For the first half, I wasn’t such a fan of this book, I felt like nothing really happened, but then once things do start to happen, you realise that all those previous events that perhaps weren’t particularly exciting to you are becoming incredibly interesting as you watch Mary’s delusions grow and these previous events begin to twist as Mary falls further down the rabbit hole, so to speak, as she realises exactly what was going on. “Women were supposed to want children more than anything else, Mary knew. Perhaps when she had her own she would feel the same way, though she could not imagine it. As far as she could see, children were like savages and it was her purpose to try to tame them until they could fit into the civilized world like everybody else.” If you are the kind of person who cannot read a book unless you love the characters, this book is probably not for you, as every single character is awful. Even the children, especially little Alice. But although she’s a bit of a beast, I could find myself sympathizing with Mary. She is just a very unfortunate character as she just doesn’t fit societies ideal ‘woman’ of the time, and absolutely hates herself for it. “But why is it rude to know someone’s age?” “Because ladies are never meant to grow old, unfortunately for you. They are meant always to stick at one-and-twenty.” There are also little sentences that are clearly meant to link the book to Alice in Wonderland which are like finding little easter eggs and I really loved those. I did enjoy this book, but I am a die-hard Alice in Wonderland fan (with the tattoo to prove it!) and I am not sure whether this book would be exciting enough to keep a non-Alice-obsessed reader’s interest. I think this book was written for those of us who love Alice and crave more answers to those pieces of the puzzle that was the relationship between Alice Liddell and Charles Dodgson (Lewis Carroll’s actual name). So if you are a die-hard Alice fan, you may really enjoy this.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Jo Marjoribanks

    I'm the kind of person who feels the need to always finish a book even if I'm not enjoying it. I really wish I wasn't one of those people. I alternated between feeling bored and disturbed while reading this book. Mary, the lead character and governess to the Liddell children, is a contemptible person with no redeeming qualities whatsoever. The embodiment of societal expectations and prejudices, she believes she has failed as a woman by being unmarried at the age of 28. Her only sense of identity I'm the kind of person who feels the need to always finish a book even if I'm not enjoying it. I really wish I wasn't one of those people. I alternated between feeling bored and disturbed while reading this book. Mary, the lead character and governess to the Liddell children, is a contemptible person with no redeeming qualities whatsoever. The embodiment of societal expectations and prejudices, she believes she has failed as a woman by being unmarried at the age of 28. Her only sense of identity comes from her interactions with men, leading her to claim that she had "lived for twenty-eight years thinking that she was a person, but she was not" (until she had the attentions of a man). She is resentful of other people's happiness and jealous of the children in her care, particularly Alice. At one point, she even admits that her favourite fantasy is that the entire Liddell family would perish in a biblical apocalypse, leaving Mr Dodgson free to pursue her. Her jealously eventually drives her to a despicable act of revenge for which she shows no hint of remorse. By the end of the book, my favourite fantasy was that I could enter its pages and slap Mary in the face. Mary was not the worst aspect of the book, however. The interactions between Mr Dodgson and Alice were often disturbing. While there were no overt displays of inappropriate behaviour from Dodgson, many of his comments to Alice made for very uncomfortable reading, and the letters he sent to her made my skin crawl. The fact that her mother only took issue with the friendship once it became the subject of scandalous gossip made the whole thing even worse. The author is the great-granddaughter of the real Alice Liddell (the girl who inspired Lewis Carroll, known in this story by his real name, Charles Dodgson). In the postscript to the novel, she states that much of the story was based in fact, including the letters featured in the book (although in reality Dodgson wrote these to other children, not Alice). She comments that there is no evidence that the real Dodgson was a paedophile, but, in my opinion, the fictional version was certainly portrayed that way. This was, perhaps, a way for the author to explore her family history, but, as a reader, I'm very glad to have reached the end of this tale.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Belle Wood

    I read this book in 2 days. My first thought was that it was wonderful. Indeed the writing is subtle, and the flourishes in which Tait parallels this book with AiW are wonderful. That was my first thought. And my second: has this woman got some internalized misogyny issues or what? It's like every fictive trait of the scorned female is applied with a trowel. The governess is stereotypical, despite actually being a real person, and she is the typical governess nightmare--frigid, judgmental, with I read this book in 2 days. My first thought was that it was wonderful. Indeed the writing is subtle, and the flourishes in which Tait parallels this book with AiW are wonderful. That was my first thought. And my second: has this woman got some internalized misogyny issues or what? It's like every fictive trait of the scorned female is applied with a trowel. The governess is stereotypical, despite actually being a real person, and she is the typical governess nightmare--frigid, judgmental, with ideas above her 'station,' and dangerously jealous of her charges, Alice in particular. The writing is good, great even, but it deserves better characterization than this. The class issues are handled with a similar sledge-hammer: the working classes are florid, stocky and loud, while the upper classes are pallid and sylph-like. There isn't a single character who questions anything about this situation, and yes, before you say it, I understand that this is a fictionalization of these people's lives, but it's because it is a fictionalization that more care can and should be taken. Their lack of dimension makes them predictable, and the governess's revenge can be guessed long before it comes to it. The afterward states that there was no evidence that the governess fancied Dodgson in the way that she did in the story, and yet her character has been thoroughly smudged in the name of fiction. And yet I must come back to it: the writing is fantastic. Perhaps Tait was more worried about turning an,admittedly,great phrase than in creating something other than stock characters, but in fiction, one is as important as the other. Tait's relationship to the family (she is Alice Liddel's great-granddaughter) makes it all the more important, lest people consider that she has information that makes the fiction true.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Rikke

    This book is written by Alice Liddell's great-granddaughter. Yes, the great-granddaughter of that Alice, the one Lewis Carroll immortalized when she fell down a rabbit hole and into his book. But while the front cover of this book promises fairy tales and wonders, playing cards and tea parties, the story itself is very devoid of Lewis Carroll's whimsical world and wordplay. Instead it is very much a historical novel, centering around the Liddell's governess who cares for the Liddell children and This book is written by Alice Liddell's great-granddaughter. Yes, the great-granddaughter of that Alice, the one Lewis Carroll immortalized when she fell down a rabbit hole and into his book. But while the front cover of this book promises fairy tales and wonders, playing cards and tea parties, the story itself is very devoid of Lewis Carroll's whimsical world and wordplay. Instead it is very much a historical novel, centering around the Liddell's governess who cares for the Liddell children and thereby meet the odd mathematics tutor who maintains an oddly close relationship with the children. The governess is the main character, and her attraction/fascination/repulsion towards Lewis Carroll is the main subject of the novel. The surreal world of Wonderland doesn't take up much space until the end, where everything moves rather quickly towards Lewis Carroll's conflict with the Liddell family. While I liked the book, the pacing felt off. And I would perhaps have liked a more complex exploration of Lewis Carroll's writing and the effect it had on the Liddell family/Alice herself. Vanessa Tait seemed like someone who had the unique opportunity to explore that particular story further, but alas! Anyone could have written this story. The promise of a personal perspective is an empty one.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Vanessa Wild

    An imaginative glimpse into a portion of time within Alice Liddell's life, the little girl who was the inspiration for Lewis Carroll's Alice's Adventures in Wonderland and who also was the great-grandmother of the author, Vanessa Tait. The story is told in the third person mainly from the viewpoint of the governess, Mary Prickett. It is very cleverly and beautifully written, but also quite whimsical and surreal. It touches on the weird and wonderful topsy turvy world of Lewis Carroll (pseudonym f An imaginative glimpse into a portion of time within Alice Liddell's life, the little girl who was the inspiration for Lewis Carroll's Alice's Adventures in Wonderland and who also was the great-grandmother of the author, Vanessa Tait. The story is told in the third person mainly from the viewpoint of the governess, Mary Prickett. It is very cleverly and beautifully written, but also quite whimsical and surreal. It touches on the weird and wonderful topsy turvy world of Lewis Carroll (pseudonym for Charles Dodgson) and the writing harks back to him in a certain way. I found the tale engaging and interesting. I loved that it combined fact with fiction. I thought the author did a fantastic job of reading between the lines. However, I did not particularly find any of the characters particularly likeable. Alice was precocious, spoilt child and Mary a fool, in my opinion. The Looking Glass House is to be published in July to coincide with the 150th anniversary of Alice's Adventures in Wonderland. An engaging and unusual read which I am sure will appeal to those who love fairy tales and all things magical! Many thanks to Lovereading.co.uk for giving me the opportunity to read and review this book.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Alice ☁ (alicesbookshelves)

    1.5 stars Well, apparently the deeper you dig into something, the darker it gets... warning: you WILL see Alice in wonderland and Lewis Carroll differently after reading this book. The only thing that kept me going here was that I knew this book was based on a lot of truths. Truths that I naively thought would make Alice in wonderland make more sense. But man... history is dark. I will now proceed to try and block this book out of my memory whenever I think about how much I love Alice in wonderland 1.5 stars Well, apparently the deeper you dig into something, the darker it gets... warning: you WILL see Alice in wonderland and Lewis Carroll differently after reading this book. The only thing that kept me going here was that I knew this book was based on a lot of truths. Truths that I naively thought would make Alice in wonderland make more sense. But man... history is dark. I will now proceed to try and block this book out of my memory whenever I think about how much I love Alice in wonderland. There was a lot of disturbing stuff here. However, I do appreciate the author’s intention and I’m glad for Alice’s sake that this book exists. Everyone deserves to speak their truth. And I guess there are some mysteries about Alice that we will never know...

  7. 4 out of 5

    Nicole Field

    A strange little book. I'm not sure what I expected, but it twists and turns in so many directions that I almost certainly didn't get whatever it was I expected. The book starts focused on the governess of the Liddels. Her name is Mary, and it's clear from the start that she has aspirations of becoming more important than her low born status. Very well. Many heroines have begun in the same way. Unfortunately for her, it's also clear very quickly that it's the children she looks after who are impo A strange little book. I'm not sure what I expected, but it twists and turns in so many directions that I almost certainly didn't get whatever it was I expected. The book starts focused on the governess of the Liddels. Her name is Mary, and it's clear from the start that she has aspirations of becoming more important than her low born status. Very well. Many heroines have begun in the same way. Unfortunately for her, it's also clear very quickly that it's the children she looks after who are important. Not her. With these hopes dashed so early, the story sort of meanders for a little while. Enter Mr Wilton. I thought, for a time, that this was set to be an unconventional romance between Mary and this Mr Wilton who went to a strange kind of church where the rumors were that the devil was. However, that too ended up being misleading as Mary's distaste for Mr Wilton became quite clear. Her distaste of Mr Dodgson was marked from the start as well but, somehow, that lessened over time as his intellect and kindness overrode her early reservations of him. Ah. Then it was to be a romance between Mr Dodgson and Mary. I don't know much about the real life Mr Dodgson, except that he is often portrayed in fiction as not being a very nice man for whatever reason. But here he seemed perfectly nice, including the children whenever he wanted to see Mary; a stark contrast to Mr Wilton who seemed almost repulsed by having to see the children Mary worked with so often. Of course, that didn't end up being the case either. Quite the opposite. Mr Dodgson turned out to be quite kind enough to invite Mary along whenever he wanted to see Alice. The way that this is written, I completely understand and am empathetic to Mary's plight. Even with the ways that we can delude ourselves into thinking someone is interested when they aren't, it became clear in the writing that Mr Dodgson had used Mary to get closer to the Liddels, and to Alice in particular. That maddened me, so much so that when it came that Mary had her small bit of revenge, I was very happy for her to get away with it. The story finishes predictably with Alice moving on, Mr Dodgson writing Alice in Wonderland with a mind to publish, and a postscript by the author separating the factual information from the fictional. I have to say, though, I have no idea what it is about Mr Dodgson that makes him so unlikeable in all Alice stories I've read about him, but the factual aspects of story that were included here makes me not like him for new and varied reasons. The story itself, however, was fairly simply written. Not a lot of depth went into the characters. I felt as though people who did not recognise these figures from history would have been a lot less interested in the story.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Eleanor Pilcher

    Fulll Review: http://ellesbellesbookshelf.blogspot.... I really wanted to read this book - mostly because of the gorgeous cover - but also the concept of learning about the Liddell family before the stories of Alice in Wonderland. However this was the story of the pedantic, slightly-mentally abnormal governess who see's things differently, based on the family tales heard by Alice's own great granddaughter Vanessa Tait. The writing is very prettily done but it is let down by a lack of punchlines w Fulll Review: http://ellesbellesbookshelf.blogspot.... I really wanted to read this book - mostly because of the gorgeous cover - but also the concept of learning about the Liddell family before the stories of Alice in Wonderland. However this was the story of the pedantic, slightly-mentally abnormal governess who see's things differently, based on the family tales heard by Alice's own great granddaughter Vanessa Tait. The writing is very prettily done but it is let down by a lack of punchlines which forces the reader to suffer through a lot of exposition and character changes before the big climx which is neither big nor climatic. It's an interesting attempt and I liked that it was tried. Tait is a good writer but her choices weren't the best. Writing in 3rd person rather than 1st made the story very weak to me. I kept forgetting who Mary was before it clicked that it was the governess. Since we never leave Mary's side I would have rather read her thoughts rather then being told her actions. It makes us distanced and so uninterested and uninvested in the story. Overall it was a disappointment to me, prettily written with some lovely lines and setting but the narrative just didn't work. A shame.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Lainy

    This book is not even worth 1 star. ot was so boring, it dragged on and on about pointless stuff and after 42% of the way through all it seemed to be was God and religion, hardley anything to do with Charles Dodgson. The write up on this book must be mis leading unless you can survive pages of drivel to get to I assume some good stuff. Unfortunately I got so board at 42% and have called it a day. I am so glad I wasted money on this. I will not recommend this book to anybody. I may attempt again This book is not even worth 1 star. ot was so boring, it dragged on and on about pointless stuff and after 42% of the way through all it seemed to be was God and religion, hardley anything to do with Charles Dodgson. The write up on this book must be mis leading unless you can survive pages of drivel to get to I assume some good stuff. Unfortunately I got so board at 42% and have called it a day. I am so glad I wasted money on this. I will not recommend this book to anybody. I may attempt again at a later date.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Angie Rhodes

    I can't say too much, as this is yet to be published, It is a great story, and one that every fan of Alice In Wonderland needs to read,, Love it !!!

  11. 4 out of 5

    El (book.monkey)

    I really enjoyed this story, I liked Dodgson's character in him self but the way he was portrayed in terms of his relationship alice to be slightly disturbing. I have read a lot about the life of Lewis Carroll aka Charles Dodgson which included watching the BBC documentary "The secret life of Lewis Carroll", if you find Lewis Carroll to be an interesting character that documentary I believe can be found on YouTube.I found Mary almost infuriating, she had to no right to act the way she did at the I really enjoyed this story, I liked Dodgson's character in him self but the way he was portrayed in terms of his relationship alice to be slightly disturbing. I have read a lot about the life of Lewis Carroll aka Charles Dodgson which included watching the BBC documentary "The secret life of Lewis Carroll", if you find Lewis Carroll to be an interesting character that documentary I believe can be found on YouTube.I found Mary almost infuriating, she had to no right to act the way she did at the end of a book, so Dodgson perhaps used her, having someone labeled in that way is inexcusable. But the whole story kept me hooked and j would recommend this to others.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Jen

    3.5* Really enjoyed this novel but it felt quite truncated. By condensing the 7 years of their friendship into 1 the Alice Liddell-Charles Dodgson story felt a little rushed. It would have seemed less so if the book had been longer. Overall though, a good read made all the more intriguing by being written by Alice's great grand-daughter.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Katrina

    2.5 I wouldn’t say this was a bad book. Just so many of the characters were unenjoyable. And since the story centered around the characters. It was all just ok. Solid writing though.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Kimberly

    This is not your contemporary Alice in Wonderland themed novel. Oh, the story has the usual and most recognizable elements of course, until you start reading. For instance, author, Vanessa Tait introduces real Liddell family governess Mary Prickett. From her perspective and ever so direct vantage point, she takes us along on a journey inside the deanery, Christ Church, Oxford where we meet sisters Ina, Edith and Alice Liddell. Oxford is the main setting where all the action takes place because t This is not your contemporary Alice in Wonderland themed novel. Oh, the story has the usual and most recognizable elements of course, until you start reading. For instance, author, Vanessa Tait introduces real Liddell family governess Mary Prickett. From her perspective and ever so direct vantage point, she takes us along on a journey inside the deanery, Christ Church, Oxford where we meet sisters Ina, Edith and Alice Liddell. Oxford is the main setting where all the action takes place because the sisters are the daughters of Dean of Christ Church, Oxford Henry Liddell and his wife, Mrs. Liddell, Lorina Hanna Liddell. What I enjoyed most about, The Looking Glass House is how involved Mrs. Liddell was with her daughters. She was at times overbearing in nature but Vanessa Tait brings her to life interestingly enough with the same 'pricklyness' of character as governess Mary Prickett. You get a good sense of the father of the house, Henry Liddell who for the most part is mentioned in name and title only. He serves as a spectre almost coming and going to serve the purpose of setting, place and time. This novel is a story based upon real people, places and events. Yet, there is no clearly structred chronological timeline to the narration. Even though a year 1862 is mentioned in the opening, you will not find any other years specifically mentioned; not as chapter headings and not even throughout them. I am so accustomed to having these types of novels including a date and a year next to each chapter heading that it is refereshing not to have them. It makes the reader's mind wander and wonder when certain events start to happen to the main focus Alice Liddell. This does not mean that you have to be familiar with Alice Liddell's real life but if you do just take note that nothing is clear cut for the reader. Just use your imagination and enjoy reading the story. Another aspect of the novel that I truly loved reading about was the subject of photography. As the novel progresses, Mr. and Mrs. Liddell come to meet 'Dodgson' a young man with a stammer when he speaks and a lilt to his walk. He catches the eye of governess Mary Prickett who seems to be a bit keen on him but dare not admit it. She is not the most attractive of women, plain and still a spinster! She has her prospects though but I shall leave it to the reader to see what happens to good old 'Pricks' as the girls call her. At the climax of the novel, Vanessa Tait addresses the 'questionable' aspect of Alice Liddell's life related to her 'friendship' with Charles Dodgson/Lewis Carroll. She does this cleverly and through Mrs. Liddell we see some tough love family mother-daughter moments. My heart broke along with Alice but I believe Mrs. Liddell did what a mother does to keep her family in tact.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Vikki Patis

    I recently received a review copy of The Looking Glass House, thanks to Lovereading.co.uk. It may be clear by now that I love a good historical fiction, and The Looking Glass House is, among other things, exactly that. It transports you back to 1862, to where Mary Prickett is taking up her post as governess to the daughters of the Dean of Christ Church. She soon meets Charles Dodgson, an awkward, academic gentleman, who takes great interest in the children Prickett is in charge of, Alice in part I recently received a review copy of The Looking Glass House, thanks to Lovereading.co.uk. It may be clear by now that I love a good historical fiction, and The Looking Glass House is, among other things, exactly that. It transports you back to 1862, to where Mary Prickett is taking up her post as governess to the daughters of the Dean of Christ Church. She soon meets Charles Dodgson, an awkward, academic gentleman, who takes great interest in the children Prickett is in charge of, Alice in particular. What I loved most about this story is that Alice isn’t the protagonist, or the heroine, or even very likeable. She is, in fact, a spoiled, somewhat manipulative little girl, used to getting her own way. One might expect Alice’s great-granddaughter to write about her in such a way that everyone falls in love with her. But, I suppose, we already have that in Carroll’s books. The Looking Glass House gives a fresh perspective, allowing us to wipe away the magic and beauty of Wonderland, and peep behind the curtains of real life. Tait is a wonderful storyteller. Her prose is simple yet effective, and her words bring to life the real Alice. Mary Prickett is also a fascinating character, one I would very much like to read more about. Some people may not enjoy this stripping back of magical layers, particularly as it concerns a novel that generations of people have enjoyed, but I, despite being a fan of fantasy and fairy tales, have always adored the stories that show us the harsh reality. The Looking Glass House is fantastic read, which I finished far too quickly. To read my interview with the author, click here: https://dracarya.wordpress.com/2015/0...

  16. 4 out of 5

    Jonathan

    This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here. I was super excited for this book ever since I saw it in the bookstore. Mind you, I live in a not so big city in the Netherlands where the bookstore only has 1 shelf of English Literature so believe me, I was EXCITED. It also arrived a week before the release date?? WAHEY from this point on there may be SPOILERS so ye be warned. The summary on the back of the book sounds very promising. I was so ready for drama. Yet, only at around page 200 of 300, the story reached the end of the summary, so ther I was super excited for this book ever since I saw it in the bookstore. Mind you, I live in a not so big city in the Netherlands where the bookstore only has 1 shelf of English Literature so believe me, I was EXCITED. It also arrived a week before the release date?? WAHEY from this point on there may be SPOILERS so ye be warned. The summary on the back of the book sounds very promising. I was so ready for drama. Yet, only at around page 200 of 300, the story reached the end of the summary, so there wasn't much space for drama left. This book is not overly dramatic. This book is more about Mary Prickett's character, the unlikable governess who has yet to find a man in marriage. I could identify with Mary both physical appearance wise and emotionally, so I found reading about her character development intriguing. I loved the little quotes and hints to the original Alice's Adventures in Wonderland book very amusing. I also love the fact that the autor is Alice Liddell's granddaughter <3 I would totally recommend this book to anyone who is an Alice nerd like me, but otherwise I think you'd find it quite boring.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Marian

    Best I can say is that it goes down about as easily as an aimless summer afternoon in the garden, disturbed only by the occasional threat of beesting. The author grounds the story in historical and indeed herstorical detail; her great-great grandmother was Alice Liddell, who inspired Charles Dodgson/Lewis Carroll to write the famous eponymous tales. Would one anticipate some effort at illuminating Carroll's character and dramatizing the tales' inspiration, in the loose genre, say, of Shakespeare Best I can say is that it goes down about as easily as an aimless summer afternoon in the garden, disturbed only by the occasional threat of beesting. The author grounds the story in historical and indeed herstorical detail; her great-great grandmother was Alice Liddell, who inspired Charles Dodgson/Lewis Carroll to write the famous eponymous tales. Would one anticipate some effort at illuminating Carroll's character and dramatizing the tales' inspiration, in the loose genre, say, of Shakespeare in Love? This one would. Instead, the focus is on the Liddells' governess (rescued under her true name from the dustbin of history), her struggles and intrigues: ultimately wan riffs on the traditional marriage plot. The low-stakes game is disappointing, and to add insult to injury, the protagonist is very thinly drawn, further frustrating our efforts to give a good goddarn.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Munaya Al salhee

    13th of September, 2019. Read till page 53. This book is a definite DNF! I really couldn’t stand the writing style from the get go and just a note, even though I have not read Jane Eyre I had a feeling that the main Character “Mary” has been kinda based on her. Also, what I didn’t like about this book is the interactions between the characters and all. Further more, I have seen a lot of “negative” reviews for this book. And I won’t say it effected me but I will say that when I bought this book l 13th of September, 2019. Read till page 53. This book is a definite DNF! I really couldn’t stand the writing style from the get go and just a note, even though I have not read Jane Eyre I had a feeling that the main Character “Mary” has been kinda based on her. Also, what I didn’t like about this book is the interactions between the characters and all. Further more, I have seen a lot of “negative” reviews for this book. And I won’t say it effected me but I will say that when I bought this book last year in a book book sale I was exited cause I thought it will be an “Alice” story and not something else. And now I have tried to read it, I really didn’t enjoy it. If you think that this book is based on Alice it’s not it’s all about the Governess Mary.

  19. 4 out of 5

    Erin

    The Looking Glass House was an interesting take on a familiar tale- I love books that retelling old stories or shed light on the creation of famous tales. This book focused on Charles Dodgson AKA Lewis Carrol and his creation of Alice in Wonderland as told through the narrative of Mary Prickett the governess of Alice Liddell who inspired the story. I found Mary to be very likeable by the end of this book. Dodgson was very unlikeable to me especially considering the undertones of suggested pe The Looking Glass House was an interesting take on a familiar tale- I love books that retelling old stories or shed light on the creation of famous tales. This book focused on Charles Dodgson AKA Lewis Carrol and his creation of Alice in Wonderland as told through the narrative of Mary Prickett the governess of Alice Liddell who inspired the story. I found Mary to be very likeable by the end of this book. Dodgson was very unlikeable to me especially considering the undertones of suggested pedophilia that were in his character. I liked the historical element of the book as I love Victorian literature and the time period itself. It was really interesting to learn more about the girl who inspired Carroll and learn more about the author himself.

  20. 4 out of 5

    Ed

    "She [Mary] wanted to erase her [Allice] from the face of the earth" This quote is all the damn book. Mary, the principal character is not memorable. Allice is pretty much portrayed as the daughter of Lucifer and Dodgson (Lewis Carrol) is pretty creepy in mostly all the book. I do not recommend this book. Nothing happens. I gave 1 star because this is Vanessa Tait first book and I hope she has grown as a writer since.

  21. 4 out of 5

    Chris

    Alice! A childish story take, And with a gentle hand, Lay it where Childhood's dreams are twined In Memory's mystic band, Like pilgrim's withered wreath of flowers Plucked in far-off land. That "childish story" composed "all in the golden afternoon" that has been the springboard for so many studies, films and novels receives a new treatment in Vanessa Tait's The Looking Glass House: the wellspring of Alice's Adventures in Wonderland is told almost entirely from the point of view of the Liddell sisters Alice! A childish story take, And with a gentle hand, Lay it where Childhood's dreams are twined In Memory's mystic band, Like pilgrim's withered wreath of flowers Plucked in far-off land. That "childish story" composed "all in the golden afternoon" that has been the springboard for so many studies, films and novels receives a new treatment in Vanessa Tait's The Looking Glass House: the wellspring of Alice's Adventures in Wonderland is told almost entirely from the point of view of the Liddell sisters' governess, Mary Prickett, about whom we know relatively little. What gives added interest to this version is that the author is the great-granddaughter of Alice herself, with access to documents and family traditions from which to draw. Ultimately, though, the question is whether this stands on its own as a piece of fiction in its own right. Though this deals with the circumstances surrounding the composition of Alice in Wonderland in the summer of 1862, the title The Looking Glass House speaks as much to the second Alice novel, Through the Looking Glass (1871). As you might expect of a story that deals with Miss Prickett's reflections, mirrors -- both physical and metaphorical -- recur throughout the pages, and just as with mirrors those reflections are only a false represention of what is real: the reversed image typifies what at first Mary Prickett imagines is happening (but which is not) and then what is engineered to appear to be the case (but which again is not). And here's the thing: Dodgson had specifically intended the Red Queen in Through the Looking Glass to be "the concentrated essence of all governesses!" and in 1886 declared her to be "formal and strict, yet not unkindly" -- hardly unconnected with the character of the Liddells' governess, surely. A year before that book's publication Mary Prickett, now nearly forty, had finally left the Liddells' service to be married. So, the fictional Mary is loosely based on the real Mary but, like a good author, Tait tries to get into her head and that of course relies on imagination. The rumours that Charles Dodgson was secretly courting the governess circulated in Oxford at the time, and we observe how Mary might have imagined this to be the case. Tait invents an alternative suitor, an adherent of a Pentecostal sect who complicates matters, but for a woman like her who was then thirty years old there was every chance of her becoming an 'old maid' unless suitable suitors took an interest. While Mary is at the core of the book she is joined there by the formidable Mrs Liddell as well as by Charles Dodgson and the three sisters, of whom the petulant Alice is by far the dominating character. The changing dynamic of Mary, Dodgson, Alice and Mrs Lorina Liddell is what pushes this novel forward, and in particular the conundrum of the relationship of the curate and the Dean's daughter and whether that led to the eventual break between the Liddells and Dodgson. Tait cleverly plays on the relationship, using a supposed revelation to precipitate the final denouement. The novel breathes new life into a story that has been analysed almost to extinction over a century and a half. There have been informative studies (such as The Alice behind Wonderland ) and variable fictional treatments ( After Alice , for example) but little that has featured the governess directly. Tait writes sympathetically but not judgmentally about her fictional Miss Prickett, exploring the sort of things that might have obsessed and affected her as an unmarried woman of slender means. A postscript gives the historical background and helps to disentangle fact and fiction, but the lasting impression in The Looking Glass House is of a woman who suddenly turns from being reactive to proactive. Whether her action is for better or for worse is for the reader to puzzle out: and as puzzles, and word games, and stories are all emblematic of the Alice novels that's not entirely inappropriate.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Hanna N

    I really wanted to read this book - mostly because of the gorgeous cover - but also the concept of learning about the Liddell family before the stories of Alice in Wonderland. However, this was the story of the pedantic, slightly-mentally abnormal governess who sees things differently, based on the family tales heard by Alice's own great-granddaughter, Vanessa Tait. The writing is very prettily done but it is let down by a lack of punchlines which forces the reader to suffer through a lot of expo I really wanted to read this book - mostly because of the gorgeous cover - but also the concept of learning about the Liddell family before the stories of Alice in Wonderland. However, this was the story of the pedantic, slightly-mentally abnormal governess who sees things differently, based on the family tales heard by Alice's own great-granddaughter, Vanessa Tait. The writing is very prettily done but it is let down by a lack of punchlines which forces the reader to suffer through a lot of exposition and character changes before the big climax which is neither big nor climatic. It's an interesting attempt and I liked that it was tried. Tait is a good writer but her choices weren't the best. Writing in 3rd person rather than 1st made the story very weak to me. I kept forgetting who Mary was before it clicked that it was the governess. Since we never leave Mary's side I would have rather read her thoughts rather than being told her actions. It makes us distanced and so uninterested and uninvested in the story. Overall it was a disappointment to me, prettily written with some lovely lines and setting but the narrative just didn't work. A shame.

  23. 4 out of 5

    Kirsty

    What drew me to this book was the stunning cover and I thought that it was going to be an Alice in Wonderland retelling. It is a retelling of sorts but not quite what I was expecting. This book follows the friendship between Alice Liddell and Lewis Carroll (Charles Dodgson). The story is told from the point of view of Alice's governess Mary Prickett. I really did not like Mary as a character I found her quite annoying which stopped me from enjoying this book. There are sentences thrown in throug What drew me to this book was the stunning cover and I thought that it was going to be an Alice in Wonderland retelling. It is a retelling of sorts but not quite what I was expecting. This book follows the friendship between Alice Liddell and Lewis Carroll (Charles Dodgson). The story is told from the point of view of Alice's governess Mary Prickett. I really did not like Mary as a character I found her quite annoying which stopped me from enjoying this book. There are sentences thrown in throughout the book that links this story to Alice in Wonderland. This story combines fact and fiction as the majority of the characters in the book were real people. This book was ok but not really what I was expecting. As I didn't like the main character in this book I really struggled to sympathise with her situation.

  24. 5 out of 5

    Anis Razman

    I, like most person was attracted to this book because of the cover. & the fact that someone so close to Alice wrote this book 😂 However, my opinion on the story itself. That’s another story. I read into this book blindly & what I can say is this story revolves around a governess who is just learning about herself & actually fighting with a child over a man. Hmmm. To be honest, I love the settings in the story!! The house, the lawn, the surroundings. I actually imagine the Bly Manor when reading t I, like most person was attracted to this book because of the cover. & the fact that someone so close to Alice wrote this book 😂 However, my opinion on the story itself. That’s another story. I read into this book blindly & what I can say is this story revolves around a governess who is just learning about herself & actually fighting with a child over a man. Hmmm. To be honest, I love the settings in the story!! The house, the lawn, the surroundings. I actually imagine the Bly Manor when reading this. Loved that for me 😂😂 All in all, loved the setting. Meh on the story (mainly because I thought it would involve more interaction between Alice & Mary, the main character). & the writing style was also a meh for me. *trigger warning: this story did mention a bit of sexual harassment & bits of child abuse (which was considered to ‘educate’ in those era). So yeah.

  25. 5 out of 5

    David

    A curious novel. I think I bought it for Celena, so it held great emotional attachment. I wanted to like it more than I did, but there was something awkward about it. Perhaps it was the suggestions of Charles Dodgson’s character being so smitten with the young girl who would provide the inspiration for his novel Alice in Wonderland. The character of Mary, the governess, was not an endearing person either. I read this as an exercise in the same sort of duty as the community of Oxford, where it wa A curious novel. I think I bought it for Celena, so it held great emotional attachment. I wanted to like it more than I did, but there was something awkward about it. Perhaps it was the suggestions of Charles Dodgson’s character being so smitten with the young girl who would provide the inspiration for his novel Alice in Wonderland. The character of Mary, the governess, was not an endearing person either. I read this as an exercise in the same sort of duty as the community of Oxford, where it was set, would understand. I did not relish it but I am glad I persisted and that my duty is now done.

  26. 4 out of 5

    Gina

    a look into into the conception and creation of "Alice in Wonderland" told by a direct descendant of Caroll's muse. Alice is my most fave fictional character so that made this book extra special to me. Also discovering how a writer is inspired and works on that inspiration till it bears fruit. I liked the flow of the story though admit by the limit of language and space this was just too short for me! I would have loved to explore more of that locality and home life set in Oxford. a book that le a look into into the conception and creation of "Alice in Wonderland" told by a direct descendant of Caroll's muse. Alice is my most fave fictional character so that made this book extra special to me. Also discovering how a writer is inspired and works on that inspiration till it bears fruit. I liked the flow of the story though admit by the limit of language and space this was just too short for me! I would have loved to explore more of that locality and home life set in Oxford. a book that left me wanting for more, in a good way as it inspired me to continue with my own stories. Alice will always hold my fancy, I am so glad I came upon this book, my daughter found it and she is so clever at finding treasures.

  27. 5 out of 5

    Caitlyn Barker

    I hated this book. I only kept reading due to wanting to complete the readathons I am participating in. This story had no likeable characters and lacked any type of endearing plot. I felt uncomfortable reading about the relationship between Dodgeson and Alice, and I am concerned this will impact on my enjoyment and treasured space in my heart that I have for Lewis Carroll’s Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland. Would not recommend this book to anyone.

  28. 5 out of 5

    Charb

    Received this as part of a book club subscription but it just isn't for me at all. The storyline feels hugely repetitive for the most part and hasn't held my interest. Sure, it seems well thought out in terms of dialogue etc but there's just not enough excitement for me and it's all been - dare I say - a little boring :-/

  29. 4 out of 5

    Mafer Orozco

    I must confess I had very different expectations for this book. I was searching for the family story in Alice and wonderland but, got the historical and data based story which I must say, didn't enjoy that much. The only thing that this book made me feel was hate towards Alice for being such a brat.

  30. 4 out of 5

    Shelly

    This book didn’t do it for me. First of all, I loved the cover for this book. Second, a fictional telling of the story behind Alice In Wonderland written by Alice’s great granddaughter, what could be better? Lots could have been better. The story is just blah with a pretty boring main character in the nanny. I’ve read a few reviews, and this is an either you like it or not kind of book.

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