I haven’t read any classic fiction since…dear lord high school?! That was a long time ago, in the years I didn’t avidly read. My favorite classic that I want to reread again soon is Pride & Prejudice. But one of the classics I’ve always wanted to read was Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland and the sequel, Through the Looking Glass.
Alice is a precocious, curious child who falls asleep one summer day to the sound of her sister reading. She has this incredible dream of following a talking rabbit down a hole and attempts to follow it through a door but is too large to fit through it. In an attempt to shrink herself, she consumes a bottle of a mysterious liquid with an equally mysterious note reading “Drink Me.” What follows is a series of adventures involving foods that both shrink and enlarge Alice’s size, caterpillars and hookahs, Duchesses with pigs for babies, Cheshire Cats, Mad Hatters and March Hares, a croquet game with the Queen of Hearts, and finally a trial involving the disappearance of tartes that haven’t disappeared at all! Alice awakens to find her adventures were nothing more than a fantastical dream that relates to her sister, who then has her own fantastical dream.
Not too long later, Alice is scolding one of her cat’s kittens and telling it stories about the room Through the Looking Glass. She soon finds herself traveling through the looking glass and into a room that is nearly identical to her own – save for all the writing is backwards and the chess pieces are actually alive. Wanting to explore more of the house, Alice sets off for the garden where she meets the Red Queen and, unbeknownst to her, is now playing a chess game. (The reader is aware of the game by the game plan that is given before the story begins.) As Alice moves through each square, she has a different mini-adventure with different characters including the White King and Queen, a White Knight, Humpty Dumpty, a lion and a unicorn, the twins Tweedledee and Tweedledum, and copious mentions of fish and poetry. Until finally Alice becomes a Queen and attends her own party…but naturally things don’t go well at this party. Alice awakens to find herself back in her own room, but wondering if it was her dream or the dream of the Red King who was fast asleep in her own adventure. Which is it?
While seemingly nonsensical, the entire story is told from the dream state of a seven year old English girl with a healthy imagination. I find I have developed an appreciation for the language and story telling of Carroll’s tales. I am all the more glad to have read this story but is it my favorite? No. Do I have a better understanding of the various adaptations of this story? Indeed.
Also, it was just too pretty a book to not buy, especially since it was only $10.
My rating: 4/5