The Mystery of Lewis Carroll, Discovering the Whimsical, Thoughtful, and Sometimes Lonely Man Who Created “Alice in Wonderland.”
The Mystery of Lewis Carroll, a well-researched biography, is a slower-paced book that nevertheless holds the reader’s attention. At the same time, its author, Jenny Woolf, digs deep to flesh out the real Lewis Carroll, Charles Lutwidge Dodgson. Not an easy task, and often Ms. Woolf, well aware of Carroll’s modern psychological assessment, especially in light of his photography of children, seems to be trying too hard. In the end, we’re glad she did, for she renders a remarkable job of illuminating the social mores of 19th-century Victorian life, thereby leveling the playing field when it comes to judging Lewis Carroll.
Woolf’s telling is straightforward and earnest. Her strong body of evidence supports her belief that Lewis Carroll’s life ought not to be looked at through a 21st-century lens that reflects sexuality in almost everything it takes in.
Melanie Benjamin’s novel, Alice I Am, may make for a lively story, but read Jenny Woolf’s The Mystery of Lewis Carroll for a fresh and thoughtful understanding of one of our most beloved storytellers. Then treat yourself to a rereading of Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland. Is the story too dated? I think not. Pay attention to Mock Turtle’s singing of the Lobster Quadrille. There you will find the present day Sam I Am of “Green Eggs and Ham.” Imagine Dr. Seuss following in the footsteps of Lewis Carroll. -Sunny Solomon
Also available by Jenny Woolf: Alice in Wonderland Illustrated and Complete; Redundancy, Coping and Bouncing Back.