Books Completed: 69
Completion Date: March, 2009
Publication Date: April, 2007
Reason for Reading: New Author Challenge, Graphic Novel Challenge
Sunderland! Thirteen hundred years ago it was the greatest center of learning in the whole of Christendom and the very cradle of English consciousness. In the time of Lewis Carroll it was the greatest shipbuilding port in the world. To this city that gave the world the electric light bulb, the stars and stripes, the millennium, the Liberty Ships and the greatest British dragon legend came Carroll in the years preceding his most famous book, Alice in Wonderland, and here are buried the roots of his surreal masterpiece. Enter the famous Edwardian palace of varieties, The Sunderland Empire, for a unique experience: an entertaining and epic meditation on myth, history and storytelling and decide for yourself - does Sunderland really exist?I found this book very over-whelming! There was so much going on in it that I know I could read it five or six more times and find things that I missed the first time around! It was a mistake to take it out of the library. I strongly recommend buying this one if you plan to read it because it is a book you are going to want to keep flipping back through. I think it is also a book that needs to be explored a couple times just to be appreciated to its full extent because between the writing and the pictures there is a lot of stuff happening on each page! It was an over-whelming experience, but one that I really enjoyed!
I have to say... I did not really enjoy Lewis Carroll's novels. I know, I am off in the minority here, but I was never a huge fan. I am talking his two famous ones: Alice in Wonderland and Through the Looking-Glass. They sound like books I would love, but while I did like them, I am just not a huge fan. That being said, I find Lewis Carroll fascinating. I have read a lot about him as a person and I like hearing all the different theories on just who he was and what inspired him to write these books. It seems to me, no one really knows him. He is as big an enigma as some of the characters in his books. I wouldn't be surprised if Carroll wanted to be a mystery. It's unfortunate that he has gathered such a terrible reputation. In our society, he is a pedophile, but leading up to his society it was common-place for older men to marry way younger women. Really, who are we to judge? Anyway, Talbot takes a stab at his own theories on who Carroll was.
He also tackles history. He tackles a LOT of history! I found it really fascinating all the connections he made. He included famous figures and famous locations. It was a very visual armchair travel, but you also learned about the history at the same time. He ties this in with Carroll and how he was a visitor to the area and could have easily been influenced by it when he wrote his famous books. Talbot also talks about Alice. The real Alice. I have often wondered about her when Carroll or his books are mentioned. Carroll spent a lot of time with Alice when she was a child, sent her copies of all the different versions of the book, but hardly had an contact with her in her adulthood. That always struck me as odd; especially since she held on to all of the books he sent her throughout the years. It makes me wonder why they stopped talking, but all people can really do is hypothesize. The two people that know the truth are deceased.
Alice in Sunderland was a very worthwhile read. It might have just a bit too much going on to really get a grasp of everything, but I found it fun and interesting. I enjoyed the method that Talbot employed to tell his story and it is such a beautiful book! I can easily see me acquiring a copy of it somewhere down the road.