Eighty one year old Alice looks back on her life in this work of historical fiction. This is THE Alice who inspired Lewis Carroll’s classic, Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland. A photograph of a 10 year old Alice taken by Carroll appears near the beginning of the book. Carroll, named Charles Dodgson in real life, was a stuttering professor of mathematics at Oxford College where Alice's father was a dean.
Here is what the author said about the picture in an interview: "It inspired me to wonder about the relationship between photographer and subject--her expression in it was so frank, so worldly, so adult. Much has been speculated about Alice's relationship with Charles Dodgson. To me the relationship is summed up in her eyes in the photo. Although she was seven and definitely not seductive--I would never say that--she was certainly aware that she had a powerful hold over this man, that she was important to him. Her instincts were still those of a child, but I have to believe that as she moved toward adolescence, she probably romanticized this power she knew she held. So no, she was never a victim, and I don't see him as predatory. I think their relationship was more complex than that. And, of course, that startling photograph, combined with the unflappability of Alice's voice in the books, made me wonder about the woman she became. It made me want to tell Alice's story, her entire story, not just the story of the child in the photograph."