Alice's Adventures in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll
Digital Audiobook narrated by Scarlett Johansson
Published by Audible Studios on February 23, 2016
Series: Alice's Adventures in Wonderland #1
Genres: Adventure, Children's, Classics, Fantasy, Fiction, Middle Grade
or 2 hours, 44 minutes
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Golden Globe nominee Scarlett Johansson (Lost in Translation, Girl with a Pearl Earring) brings a palpable sense of joy and exuberance to her performance of Lewis Carroll's enduring classic Alice's Adventures in Wonderland. From the White Rabbit and Mad Hatter to the Cheshire Cat and Queen of Hearts, she imbues each madcap character with a distinct voice and personality that will leave a lasting impression long after the adventure is over.
One hundred and fifty years after its original publication, Alice's Adventures in Wonderland remains one of the most widely read, deconstructed, referenced, and reinterpreted works of Western fiction. It tells the story of the young and imaginative Alice, who grows weary of her storybook, one "without pictures or conversations", and follows a hasty hare underground - to come face to face with a host of strange and fantastic characters.
It’s positively tragic that I haven’t reviewed Alice in Wonderland before now.
I think it’s because Alice is a classic. It’s not like some of the heavier classics I read – like Inferno or Gone With the Wind – that feel antiquated and need some introduction. The beauty of children’s classics is their true timelessness. Even period ones like The Secret Garden and The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh snuggle their way into our hearts effortlessly.
Alice in Wonderland is like that. I’ve never met a person unfamiliar with Alice, even if not everyone will love her.
And what do I say about this book, anyway? Alice in Wonderland is chaos, creativity, and detail. It’s little wonder that Wonderland ignites creativity into so many people such a long time after publication. The array of characters, Alice’s charm, and the concept of Wonderland itself are all marvelous platforms. There’s about seventy five different characters in this tale, and they all have stories to tell. Why we’re so fixated on Alice, the Hatter, and Ches I’ll never know. Someone write me a Mock Turtle story.
This is why I loved Heartless, though. So much love for this original tale went into the writing of that novel.
Ah, but I digress.
Alice in Wonderland is about a little girl who falls asleep while her sister is reading to her, and has a marvelous dream. That is the true extent of the plot – even Alice doesn’t know she’s trying to get home until much later in the story. There are editions upon editions of this book. My personal favorite was the illustrated edition that my mother had as a kid (which has disappeared, and I’m vexed because I wanted it someday), but Wonderland is such a place that you don’t need illustrations – it stirs the imagination.
Every reading, I am always surprised by Alice. She’s such a sweet, polite, and in her own way actually wise little girl. She tries so hard to be a grown up and to do as she’s been told, but every once in a while, a little irritation shines through. I think one of the successes of Wonderland is Alice’s character – led by a character more timid or headstrong, this would be a different tale, but little Alice stands up on her own two feet, no matter what size she is.
I am also constantly surprised by the level of detail Carroll put into the writing of this one. Every time I read this, I find something new, and in a children’s book that can’t be very common. Through this reading, I discovered the three little girls in the treacle well. I knew they existed via Heartless, but had never pulled them out of the original story before? More props to Marissa Meyer.
As a classic, Alice in Wonderland runs the risk of becoming irrelevant or politically incorrect as time goes on… but as itself, I don’t think that will ever be a problem. Alice’s adventures rely very little on time period, or convention because they are an invention of her own. There are no social castes in Wonderland (short of the Queen of Hearts, really, but that’s not concerning… unless she calls for your head) that will become outdated, no racial snafus, and no technology to become obsolete. It’s just Alice and her imagination and that’s completely timeless. I LOVE it.
A note to audiobook listeners – this read was the Audible edition, read by Scarlett Johansson. This is the second time I’ve experienced Alice in Wonderland via audiobook. While I’d say it’s much more fun to find yourself an illustrated hard copy, it’s definitely possible to have a good reading via audiobook. Scarlett Johansson does an amazing job. She really captures Alice’s voice, I think, and doesn’t change her own too many times to distract from the story. I’m going to call it and say that if you’re going to do an audiobook listen, do this one.
Alice in Wonderland remains one of my favorite stories of all time. Despite appearances, it’s delightfully complex and interesting, and it’s timelessness really wins me over as well. Before Hogwarts, before the Grishaverse… before Oz, even, children dreamed of disappearing into Wonderland. And that has some magic in itself.
Have you ever read Alice in Wonderland? I’m always looking for new retellings of this book! Feel free to leave some in the comments!