When Alice toppled down the rabbit-hole 150 years ago, she found a Wonderland as rife with inconsistent rules and abrasive egos as the world she left behind. But what of that world? How did 1860s Oxford react to Alice’s disappearance?
In this brilliant work of fiction, Gregory Maguire turns his dazzling imagination to the question of underworlds, undergrounds, underpinnings—and understandings old and new, offering an inventive spin on Carroll’s enduring tale. Ada, a friend of Alice’s mentioned briefly in Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, is off to visit her friend, but arrives a moment too late—and tumbles down the rabbit-hole herself.
Ada brings to Wonderland her own imperfect apprehension of cause and effect as she embarks on an odyssey to find Alice and see her safely home from this surreal world below the world. If Eurydice can ever be returned to the arms of Orpheus, or Lazarus can be raised from the tomb, perhaps Alice can be returned to life. Either way, everything that happens next is “After Alice.”
I absolutely loved After Alice. It was nice to see Wonderland from another person’s perspective instead of from the character we already know and love, especially through the eyes of Ada Boyce. Ada really isn’t talked about much in Alice in Wonderland but After Alice focuses mainly on Ada and her adventures in Wonderland as she desperately tries to find her friend Alice. Which is amazingly done. All the characters are flawlessly kept as they were in the original telling by Lewis Carroll, which made me love this book even more.
Ada is a character that you wouldn’t expect to fall into Wonderland, let alone expect to save the day. She’s handicapped and basically immobile until she falls down the rabbit hole into Wonderland. Once at the bottom she realizes she can stand erect without the garments that correct her posture. And you see her walking through Wonderland without her restraints, rejoicing in being a normal child.Which I imagine is really freeing for her, but also maddening since she’s in a strange world with strange people looking for her friend that seems to always be getting into trouble.
Along the way Ada meets all the creatures of Wonderland. Some are helpful, some aren’t. She eventually meets Siam, which came through The Looking Glass into Wonderland.
Now while Ada, Siam, and Alice are wondering through Wonderland, there’s chaos in the real world as they look for the children. There’s arguing between Alice’s sister and Ada’s governess. There’s even a small mental feud for the affections of Mr. Winter as everyone goes bonkers trying to find the children. And along the way Lydia, Alice’s sister, realizes just how much she needs Alice. They all realize how much they need Alice.