"As for dreams, they are powered by urgent desire, even if that desire is only to escape the quotidian."
I never know how I'm going to feel about a Gregory Maguire book. Wicked is one of my all-time favorite books and I also really enjoyed the fourth book in the Wicked series, Out of Oz. I really struggled to get through Son of a Witch (book #2) and A Lion Among Men (book #3) and Confessions of an Ugly Stepsister - the only other Maguire book I've read - was good, but not great.
(There were all read before my review-writing days, so no links...)
I have a lot of admiration for the author and his amazing storytelling abilities and imagination, but I had a hard time getting into this book. Since the title is After Alice, I guess I was expecting the book to be what happened after Alice went down the rabbit hole and returned from Wonderland. But instead, it told the story of Ada - Alice's best friend who went after Alice and ended up in Wonderland herself. Much of the story also focused on Ada's sister Lydia and the town looking for Alice and Ada in Oxford in the 1860s. This was interesting and gave a lot of insight to the original story by Lewis Carroll, but I still struggled through the book. It was a little too complicated and I found it hard to focus on what was going on. I'm sure that is a lot more to the story that meets the eye, but I couldn't figure out what it was. What I loved about Wicked was the extreme detail of the people and culture of OZ and I felt that this book just didn't have that kind of depth to it.
I don't remember when I read Alice and Wonderland, but I must have been before I started keeping track of the book I read in 2004. I remember being older - maybe 12 or 13, but I found some parts hard to understand and I was easily distracted while reading it (something that usually doesn't happen to me...) I liked the story, but it was a little too "out there" for my tastes at the time. I hoping to go back and re-read it one of these days, so maybe I will have a different perspective reading it as an adult.
I have a ton of respect for Gregory Maguire and I will continue reading his books, but After Alice was not one of my favorites of his. I'm sure this will appear to hard-core Maguire fans, but it defiantly isn't for everyone.