After Alice by Gregory Maguire is an ambitious novel of the second little girl who made it to Wonderland. Maguire’s novel is somewhat of a companion novel to the original and with the beautiful work he did on Wicked and that particular series, fans will be expecting the same level story and plot. Unfortunately After Alice does not deliver.
Ada, the daughter of the local minister and good friend of Alice is trying very hard to get away from her Nanny. Only Ada’s legs don’t exactly work very well and the contraptions she has on them keep her from moving very fast. But she has something of a head start as she delivers a jar of jam to Alice and her family. An errand she is running as an act of caring at this time of the passing of Alice’s mother. Also Ada is very happy to get out of her own home as the arrival of a newborn sibling has the household in an uproar. But when she reaches Alice’s home she finds Alice has gone missing, only no one seems to preoccupied with the disappearance. Alice is known to be flighty at times. As she hears her own Nanny approaching, Ada hides and finds herself falling down the same rabbit hole as her friend. Falling and finding herself in Wonderland, after Alice.
The novel is touted as what would 1860s have done when they found out of Alice’s disappearance? The answer seems to be very little. Her father takes no notice, far too busy entertaining the likes of Charles Darwin. Which as a character in this story contributes very little at all. Which also makes one wonder why he was even included. Alice’s sister is far more concerned with possibly getting the young man visiting along with Darwin to notice her to even worry about Alice. In fact the only person who seems to be concerned is Ada’s Nanny and that is only because Ada as well has gone missing and this puts the Nanny’s job in jeopardy.
After Alice is marketed to coincide with the 150th anniversary of the original book and it seems as if someone had the brilliant idea to write another Alice book to be marketed at the time of the anniversary. And who better to do this than that guy who did those cool Wicked books? Perhaps I am being unfair there but this sure felt like it.
Maguire is an exceptionally talented writer but with this one it really felt like he was phoning it in.