When I share my (many) thoughts on a book I’ve read, one thing I really like to do- one thing I feel compelled to do- is list my favorite quotes. Because I have so many thoughts on Gregory Maguire’s After Alice, and because I found so many interesting quotes, I decided it would be best to break it up into two parts, which will actually make it three parts as I already did a First Impressions review on June 26th. That was only about 16 or 17 days ago but feels as though it was months ago!
A full review subtitled “Concluding Thoughts” will be posted next Sunday, July 16th.
This book was full of clever and witty quotes, but I had to narrow it down. The following lines are my favorite quotes from After Alice. Some of them are repeats from my First Impressions post.
” . . . where in all these enterprises of thought and institution is Lydia herself? What is the character of Lydia, and where the soul of Lydia . . .
“And where, for that matter, is Alice?”
“It’s as if a botanical display and an athletic contest and a gypsy circus have all set themselves up in a hippodrome of some sort.”
“Up until ten minutes ago, Ada had not had much experience in the practice of imagination.”
“Miss Armstrong was aware that imagination, often a cause of temptation and unrest, could also serve the soul. . .”
” . . . . the tilting of an eyebrow. This was too obscure a hieroglyphic for the Vicar to decipher, no matter how Miss Armstrong concentrated the pure fire of her being in the muscles of her forehead. One day she would self-immolate . . . . Spontaneous combustion caused by an eyebrow left to smolder a moment too long.”
“The world pauses for royalty and deformity alike, and sometimes one can’t tell the difference.”
“Her gait was still lopsided, but so was the world, so she kept on.”
“Evolution a mighty power, could it yield up creatures capable of argument.”
“I have no use for tea, after all. My mother has died . . . She is, consequently, dead. She had a big head like mine and Alice’s and it’s my opinion that it simply exploded.”
“The instinct toward panic, once experienced, cannot be unlearned.”
“The Queen of Hearts has a robust temper, you see. And anger gives one an appetite. So her edible guests do try to keep her from losing her temper.”
“I understand there is to be an execution.”
“What is to be executed?” asked the Lion.
“Manners and fine taste . . . .”
“They were going to the garden party . . . and we will be wanting to get there before long.” [Said Ada.] “You may want that,” said the White Queen. “I want peace among all nations. Either that or lemon drop, I can’t decide.”
(Lemon drop? A nod to Professor Dumbledore? I suspect so, because the White Queen also has a magic cloak.)
“My,” said Ada, laying the dead rose on the peaty moss. “Life is a very cheap thing here.”
“Cheap and dear all at once,” said the Rose from her grave. “That’s the thing. You’ll figure it out sooner or later.”
” . . . the White Queen and the White Knight. Generally adults were a failure, but these two managed failure well.”
“All of life hinges on what one does next, until finally one makes the wrong choice. But was that this moment?”
“She had no intention of stripping to her smalls in a court of law, however deranged the audience.”
“Though usually a dreamer of commonplace notions, once in a while Ada had enjoyed dreams of flying. So she was hardly surprised to find herself not only capable but skilled at this . . . She moved upward in a spiral . . . She disobeyed earlier advice and looked up rather than down.
” [The] essayist’s point is about the urgency of not being dislodged from one’s deepest beliefs. No matter how beset one might be.”
“Perhaps we are meant and made to shift our beliefs.”
“If we are ‘made’ or ‘meant,’ then someone must have made or meant us.”