Fiction — audiobook. Read by Shelly Frasier. Tantor Media, 2008. Originally published 1865. 2 hours, 47 minutes. Library copy.
Bored as her sister reads a book without pictures, Alice spies a white rabbit scurrying across the meadow carrying a pocket watch and exclaiming that he is going to be late. Intrigued by this unusual sight, Alice follows the white rabbit down a rabbit hole and finds an unusual land filled with unusual people where she often changes size unexpectedly. At one point, Alice grows as large enough to fill the white rabbit’s house; at another, she shrinks to three inches tall.
“Begin at the beginning, the King said, very gravely, and go on till you come to the end: then stop.”
Each of the twelve chapters covers a different adventure — in chapter two she meets a mouse swimming through her pool of tears; chapter four is the caterpillar smoking hookah; chapter six is the Cheshire Cat; chapter seven is a tea party with the Mad Hatter; and chapter eight is her meeting with the infamous Red Queen. During almost every encounter, Alice gets in an argument with a new character about the way things are supposed to be. She just cannot wrap her mind around this strange little world, but Alice is determined to make it to the garden she spied through the door at the end of the rabbit hole and she certainly cannot say she is bored now.
This was my first time reading the novel and, while I did enjoy it, I do not think the original tale will ever replace the scene in my mind where Alice paints the roses red and plays croquet with the flamingo as depicted in the 1951 Disney adaptation. There are, of course, scenes in the book that were not in the film and vice versa — I missed Tweedledee and Tweedledum! And how sad that the never-ending tea party wasn’t actually a celebration of a “unbirthday”.
The whimsy I expected because of the film adaptation was missing in the later chapters of this short tale, although I enjoyed the way Alice cleverly exposed the trial at the end of the tale for the sham that it is. She clearly loves a good debate, and I appreciated that part of her character. It came across much stronger in the novel than I can remember from the film.
The novel contains multiple poems and songs interspersed throughout Alice’s adventures, which is one argument I can offer for listening to it on audio. I always struggle coming up with the right tune in my head when I read novels with songs in them so it was lovely to have Frasier choose a ditty for me and sing the songs. She has a nice voice, but her ability to provide the characters with different voices was stretched in this novel. There were just so many different characters in this story; by the end, I could not always distinguish which character was speaking.
The Classics Club:
I read this book for the Classics Club, which challenges participants read and discuss fifty or more books considered to be classics within a five year period. My personal goal for this project is to read seventy-five books in three years ending on August 15, 2017. You can find out more information by checking out my introductory post, project post, or spreadsheet of titles.
Book Cover © Tantor Media. Retrieved: October 19, 2014.