Top critical review
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novel as biography
on 31 July 2002
This is a sort-of detective novel written in the form of a biographical sketch of Charles Dodgson. The literary-detective narrator, faced with the image of her hero shaped by numerous scholars and academics that portrays him as a conscientious man who enjoyed the company of children, especially one named Alice Liddell, discovers a scrap of paper that confirms in her mind that Dodgson's relatives had cooked the books (his diaries--they tore out a few pages) to protect the family reputation. The scrap of "evidence", the detective is convinced, shows Dodgson to be interested, not in little Alice, but her mother. The narrator goes on to imply that this imagined saintly fellow is actually a serial adulterer, having bedded Mrs. Liddell and several other adult women. He's not a pedophile after all, by George, but an adulterer, who managed to slip past the Mrs. Grundys in his own day and, what's more, after his death, evade a century of biographers and academics from ever knowing the "truth."
Thus, the real hero of this tale turns out to be the clever narrator, whose extraordinary acumen and diligent digging nails the hero for what he really was--a normal sort of guy with an itch for adult women, not little girls, one who cleverly used little Alice to get to her upper-class Mum.
If fantasy fiction is your cup of tea, this may be the book for you. If you really want to learn about Carroll's life, then you might look to Morton Cohen's definitive biography and edition of the letters.