Best of 2012: After Such Kindness by Gaynor Arnold

In August I wrote my first review for Fiction Uncovered (my only so far but there will hopefully be more!) – the book in question was After Such Kindness by Gaynor Arnold. I hadn’t heard of it until Fiction Uncovered sent it to me, and I’m so glad they did. The novel is ‘inspired by the “tender and troubling” friendship between Lewis Carroll and his muse, the young Alice Liddell’. Not only did Carroll write the wonderful Alice novels, but his relationship with Alice Liddell, as well as his photographs of her, have intrigued readers almost as much.

2012 hardback edition – love this cover!

Gaynor Arnold uses their friendship as inspiration for her story – Oxford don and clergyman John Jameson befriends fellow priest Daniel Baxter, as well as his family, and is enchanted by Baxter’s young daughter Daisy. Jameson, Baxter, Daisy, and Daisy’s mother all narrate the story; Daisy in particular is a fascinating narrator, looking back on events of her childhood from adulthood and her new life with her husband. She is an unreliable narrator, as time has altered her memories and perceptions of events.

Gaynor Arnold. Image: tindalstreet.co.uk

My review on Fiction Uncovered is here and here is a great blog post by Gaynor Arnold about her fascination with Alice in Wonderland and why she wrote After Such Kindness. It really is a fascinating book, extremely intelligent and well written, and definitely one of my top books of 2012.

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After Such Kindess was published in July 2012 by Tindal Street Press. My copy was kindly provided by the publisher for review.

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