Book Review. The Dark Side of Alice in Wonderland by Angela Youngman.

TDSOAIW had two parts. The first part was about the writer of Alice in Wonderland Lewis Carroll, or as his real name was Charles Dodgson. If you are familiar with him already, this part you might skim. Angela Youngman then tells us about the relationships that Dodgson had with young girls – and the questions those relationships raise, one of those girls being Alice Liddell and her siblings, and how those relationships correlated with the Victorian times in which they lived. The writer has researched the various theories and thoughts of different people. Included are the far stretched theories, unlikely to be true. Like the anagram theory. When Angela Youngman described concrete evidence, what we have, this mentioned Dodgson’s bank details, and what was coming in and out of his account. I think I was surprised at how far people would go to try and glean answers, like scrutinizing someone’s bank details for discrepancies. I thought it was odd. So I thought overall this part was speculative. It was interesting to read how Dodgson sought permission from the parents of the girls he had relationships with, how he was manipulative and wanted to spend time with them, photograph them and how Angela Youngman explained the Victorian attitudes in the 18th century, and how we need to appreciate how it was then, and not think of it like we would now. Like allowing a grown man to spend hours alone with young girls, these days that would be thought of as … um … perhaps not. Even if Dodgson was trustworthy. We know now that it isn’t necessarily strangers, we need to be wary of, it’s the people in our families and friendship circles.

Part 2 started to appeal to my interest in history. It spoke about how Alice in Wonderland grew in popularity through the 21st century, the life of the real Alice Liddell, and Wonderland’s impact on popular culture. Like porn films being made based on the characters in the book. I’m not sure how that helps Dodgson and his reputation any. There was a great chapter on mental illness in Victorian times and how that may have influenced Dodgson’s writing, as well as the history of the ‘mad’ Hatter.

Rating: 3.5 out of 5.

Thanks to Netgalley and the publisher for an ebook copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

Although the children’s story Alice in Wonderland has been in print for over 150 years, the mysteries and rumors surrounding the story and its creator Lewis Carroll have continued to grow.

The Dark Side of Alice in Wonderland is the first time anyone has investigated the vast range of darker, more threatening aspects of this famous story and the way Alice has been transformed over the years.

This is the Alice of horror films, Halloween, murder and mystery, spectral ghosts, political satire, mental illnesses, weird feasts, Lolita, Tarot, pornography and steampunk. The Beatles based famous songs such as Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds and I am the Walrus on Alice in Wonderland, while she has even attracted the attention of world-famous artists including Salvador Dali. Take a look at why the Japanese version of Lolita is so different to that of novelist Vladimir Nabokov – yet both are based on Alice. This is Alice in Wonderland as you have never seen her before: a dark, sometimes menacing, and threatening character.

Was Carroll all that he seemed? The stories of his child friends, nude photographs and sketches affect the way modern audiences look at the writer. Was he just a lonely academic, closet pedophile, brilliant puzzle maker or even Jack the Ripper?

For a book that began life as a simple children’s story, it has resulted in a vast array of dark concepts, ideas and mysteries. So step inside the world of Alice in Wonderland and discover a dark side you never knew existed!

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