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Still She Haunts Me [Hardcover]

Katie Roiphe
3.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (9 customer reviews)

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Book Description

4 Oct 2001

For seven years Charles Dodgson, a painfully shy Oxford don, and Alice Liddell, the fascinating little girl who was the daughter of the dean of Christ Church, had a strange, intense relationship. Then suddenly, when she was eleven, Alice's family shut Dodgson out. The pages from Dodgson's diary that may have explained the rift have disappeared. What remains are the stories he told her, transformed into the brilliant, revolutionary classics, Alice in Wonderland and Through the Looking Glass, and the pioneering photographs in which he captured her fleeting childhood.

In a triumphant work of imagination, Katie Roiphe illuminates a luxuriously textured corner of Victorian society, with its affluence, social power-plays and politics, and the mysterious, difficult relationship Dodgson had with Alice, her family - and with himself. STILL SHE HAUNTS ME is an unforgettable novel about a singular, troubled man, from one of this century's most provocative young writers.

Product details

  • Hardcover: 224 pages
  • Publisher: Headline Review (4 Oct 2001)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0747265577
  • ISBN-13: 978-0747265573
  • Product Dimensions: 18 x 13.4 x 1.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (9 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 1,594,750 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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the Sunday Telegraph `clever and well-written first novel' 11/11 (the Sunday Telegraph)

'She handles a disturbing story with great subtlety and penetrating insight' The Independent on Sunday 28/10 (The Independent on Sunday)

Book Description

One of America's most provocative young writers takes a dazzling turn in this beautifully packaged small-format first novel inspired by the relationship between Charles Dodgson (Lewis Carroll) and Alice Liddell (the inspiration for Alice)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars An enjoyable novel 12 Jan 2002
By A Customer
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
...Roiphe does not claim that this novel is a definitive work on the relationship between Carroll and Alice Liddell. Roiphe clearly states that her novel is more a work of fiction than anything to be set in stone. Although she may not offer completely original ideas to why their relationship ended so suddenly (due to his taking nude photographs of her at 11 years old), I think however, she does put these ideas across in a sensitive, interesting way. The relationship they shared is looked at, not only through the eyes of Carroll and Alice, but Roiphe also allows the posssible viewpoints of other characters to be expressed.
I think as long as you read this book foe what it is, a light-hearted insight into the lives of two people who shared quite a strange bond, you should enjoy it.
I would certainly reccommend this book to others, not as a way of learning something definitive about past events, but as an enjoyable novel.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A haunting work of fiction 31 Dec 2005
Writing a fictional account of a very real person's life is a tricky endeavor - it also complicates the reviewing process. I've read Alice's Adventures in Wonderland and Through the Looking Glass, but all I really knew about Charles Dodgson (Lewis Carroll) was the fact that he was a mathematician. That being the case, I've tried very hard not to let this fictional treatment of the man influence my opinion of him - especially since this is a rather unsettling account of his relationship with young Alice Liddell. We know that, as a young mathematics lecturer at Oxford, he enjoyed a special relationship with young Alice for seven years - then, the Liddells made it clear that they did not want Dodgson spending any more time with them or their eleven-year-old daughter. The reasons for this sudden break are shrouded in a bit of mystery, and those are the facts that I hold to. What Katie Roiphe has done is to take the known facts and construct a fascinating story around them. She may be right on the money - or she may be way off base. The important thing to remember is that Still She Haunts Me is essentially a work of fiction.
Some readers may be disturbed by the story Roiphe tells in these pages. Some will look at Dodgson's passionate, confused feelings for Alice as borderline depravity, while others will see something strangely beautiful about the relationship. Dodgson is an incredibly complicated character in this novel. He meets Alice when he is nearing thirty and she is four years old, and he clearly grows to love her in some remarkable fashion over the ensuing seven years. She is forbidden fruit, something he can cling to yet never really grab hold of. There is nothing conclusively sexual about his feelings at all, though - in my interpretation.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Well-written, but somewhat disappointing. 15 May 2002
Katie Roiphe's first novel is an imaginative recreation of the relationship between Lewis Carroll and the child Alice Liddell, for whom he wrote Alice in Wonderland.
Roiphe handles this potentially disturbing subject matter sensitively, neither demonizing Carroll nor attempting to sanitize the darker side of his attraction to Alice. The writing is imaginative and sometimes strikingly vivid. But in the end I was not really convinced by the characterization, or by the portrayal of the society Carroll inhabits. What really happened between Lewis Carroll and Alice we will never know, but I don't believe it was like this.
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Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
I purchased the book due to my interest in Charles Dodgson as the author of two seminal novels - Alice's Adventures in Wonderland, and Through the Looking Glass, and a similar interest in his relationship with Alice Liddell as the alleged inspiration for them.

The book is fictional, and therefore certainly not something for potential purchasers to mistakenly assume is based on facts, although to be fair to the author she does explain this within the 'Authors Note' at the end.

Where as Roiphe's book certainly doesn't identify Dodgson's relationship with the young Alice as sinister in an explicit way, the 'implicit' message is quite clear that Dodgson's interests in Alice was subject to motivations dark in nature, which she alludes to by writing about the Mother of Alice having feelings of discomfort regarding the relationship, and her consequent belief that there was more to it, but she couldn't quite put her finger on what it was.

I suppose if I'm honest, I feel very uncomfortable that Dodgson is subject to such unfounded accusations of being a paedophile, when there is neither any clear evidence to suggest he was or indeed wasn't, and that the the only two people who can ever clearly say either way ( either himself or Alice) are now both dead.

It's unfortunately very easy for people now days, living in a society where the increased hypersensitivity of sexual predators has resulted in the belief that everyone is a paedophile until proven otherwise; to survey the 'limited evidence' regarding their relationship and presume the worst.

I would be the first to admit that should a man of Dodgson's age take such an interest in a young girl that were not his own these days, and take such photos of her that yes, I would certainly have my own suspicions.
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