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After Such Kindness Hardcover – 5 Jul 2012

4.5 out of 5 stars 22 customer reviews

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£12.99 FREE Delivery in the UK. Temporarily out of stock. Order now and we'll deliver when available. We'll e-mail you with an estimated delivery date as soon as we have more information. Your account will only be charged when we dispatch the item. Dispatched from and sold by Amazon. Gift-wrap available.
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Product details

  • Hardcover: 384 pages
  • Publisher: Tindal Street (5 July 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1906994374
  • ISBN-13: 978-1906994372
  • Product Dimensions: 14.3 x 3.5 x 22.2 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (22 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 1,230,037 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description

Review

As finely wrought as her 2008 debut, Girl in a Blue Dress - a literary gem --Independent

Charming and beautifully written, but with dark undertones --We Love This Book

The fascinating exploration of Victorian social mores climaxes in a totally unexpected ending that flips assumption on its head and shocks to the core. Gripping and unsettling --Easy Living

Book Description

Novel based on the unconventional relationship between Lewis Carroll and Alice Liddell

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Customer Reviews

4.5 out of 5 stars
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Top Customer Reviews

By S Riaz HALL OF FAMETOP 50 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on 25 July 2012
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
This is an unsettling and fascinating novel, looking at the relationship between Lewis Carroll (whose real name was obviously Charles Dodgson and in this novel is renamed John Jameson) Alice Liddell (renamed Daisy Baxter) and her family. Of course, Alice Liddell was famously the inspiration for "Alice in Wonderland" and although this is a fictional account of real life, it is wonderfully done. The novel is told from the viewpoint of Jameson himself, Daisy as a young girl and as a grown woman, not quite sure why she is reluctant to read a childhood diary, Daisy's mother and her father.

Daniel Baxter is a vicar who meets John Jameson at Oxford, where they become friends. Over time, Jameson meets Baxter's family, including his three daughters, of whom Daisy is the youngest, and his baby son. During a birthday treat for Daisy, a picnic on the river, Mr Jameson averts a near disaster and is welcomed with even greater warmth into the family. Soon Daisy becomes his particular favourite and he arranges tea parties for her and her friends, as well as taking photographs of them, declaring, "girls, in my opinion, are the most delightful creatures in the world." Daisy obviously basks in the attention, but gradual disquiet is voiced about the relationship. The novel builds to a disconcerting and well written climax, as the author cleverly shows the point of view of all concerned, as well as the way behaviours which now seem very inappropriate were viewed in more innocent times.

If you enjoy this novel, and I am sure you will, you might like to read
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Format: Hardcover
Gaynor Arnold's second novel, After Such Kindness, announces itself as inspired by Lewis Carroll and Alice and this is certainly useful information. But quickly the reality, or otherwise, of that relationship is set aside as Arnold's characters begin to live. We, of course, are aware of the terrible things that adults can do to children (and to each other) and of the ability of the human mind to fictionalise or hide the truth. And we - in our rational and enquiring world at least - are largely un-influenced by a day to day concern for interpreting the will of an Almighty. So in reading After Such Kindness we are permitted a privileged view, smiling benignly at the extraordinary knots of conscience into which the protagonists tie themselves.

Or so I thought, but actually we are absorbed by the layers of known and unknown deceit; the concerns for propriety and appearance become real; the lightly-drawn back-stories of each of the characters offer an emotional drama far more significant than the individual players. At the heart of After Such Kindness is the early life of Daisy Baxter, who with the naivety of a Victorian child illuminates the inequality and extremism of a culture that considered itself rather civilised. And it is around her 'innocence' and what this might mean - how it might be traded into marriage, how it might be used as art, how adults might relate to it - that the story weaves. Revelations are offered to us, always with a certain uncertainty to remind us that appearance and reality were ever at odds. Characters form and re-form themselves; a telling phrase or disarming cameo often suggesting that there is more to be known.
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Format: Hardcover
This fictional take on Lewis Carroll's friendship with Alice Liddell (the inspiration for Alice in Wonderland) is charming and beautifully written, but with dark undertones.

The novel is written from four perspectives: John Jameson (the fictionalised Carroll), an eccentric academic at Oxford; Margaret Constantine (the fictionalised Alice), a troubled newlywed looking back on the childhood diaries describing her friendship with Jameson; and Margaret's parents, Daniel and Evelina Baxter. At first Jameson seems a rather sinister character and it's difficult not to see his actions and emotions through modern eyes. Nowadays it would be seen as suspicious and even shocking if a grown man wished to spend time with a little girl he was not related to - even in Jameson's time no-one can quite understand why he wants to spend so much time with an 11-year-old child. This, along with hints at Daniel Baxter's breakdown and various fractures within the family, adds a dark current to the novel that contrasts the childish voice of the diaries.

Fans of Alice will love the nods to various Wonderland elements. Although this is a fictionalised account, it's a joy to spot the parallels between Jameson's life and that of the book and imagine how it all came together in his mind. The story moves along well and each scene is beautifully drawn. As layers of the story are peeled back and Margaret begins to remember more about Jameson, the novel builds to a brilliant climax.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
The cleverness of Gaynor Arnold is that she manages to deal with challenging subjects, insanity, "inappropriate" behaviour, hypocrisy, misogyny, Victorian Christianity, faltering faith, while at the same time writing a book that is very easy to read. The relationship of John Jameson and Daisy Baxter (respectively fictionalised depictions of Lewis Carroll/Charles Dodgson and Alice Liddell) is, despite our modern sensibilities, described with a lightness of touch that leaves you wanting to believe that it is truly innocent; indeed that decision is left to the reader without any large red signposts from the author. The occasional allusions to Alice in Wonderland which by and large take the form of snippets of conversation between John Jameson and Daisy, are delightful and the cleverness is that one is shown the workings of the clergyman-mathematician's mind that is to create the Alice in Wonderland fantasy. Although central to it, this relationship is only part of the story which deals also with the struggles of its adult characters and their very real adult problems.

The story is told through the eyes of the four main characters, Jameson, Daisy both as a child and young adult and each of Daisy's parents and latterly also through those of Daisy's husband. The themes are difficult but with so much of the tale related by the bright and innocent Daisy through her journal and thoughts, it never for a moment becomes bogged down. I raced through the book which is both serious and a page-turner all at the same time. A wonderful achievement, buy it and read it!
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