ALICE in BED (Counterpoint) by Judith Hooper takes readers to Boston and England in the mid-late 1800s – a challenging time, for intelligent women. Unfortunately they find themselves, as in the case of Alice James, repeatedly coming up against walls and closed doors in a society with no opportunity for women to further their education.
One of Alice’s brothers is William James, one of the greatest English novelists of the time; another is Henry James, who is inventing American psychology. The James family is famous in Boston and New York for its brilliance, eccentricity, and captivating salons. Alice James is no less remarkable than her brothers, but there’s a problem: she’s a woman. Her education has been infrequent, there are no colleges for women, and young ladies are expected to tend to the home. No one could be less suited to domestic tasks than the bright, quick-witted and defiantly original Alice. She’s determined to create her own destiny.
Falling mysteriously ill while crossing the Atlantic at age 38, Alice becomes confined to her bed in England. Thus begins her second life, when she recalls or redreams her life and struggles to make sense of it. How did her collapse begin? Was it “Father’s Ideas” or the night she drank absinthe and fell in love with a girl? Perhaps it was the time William went to the asylum or her childhood years in Paris, when Father fired each of her governesses in turn? Was it simply the oddness of “growing up James”?
ALICE in BED provides a fictional account of a woman who’s been overlooked in history, and certainly over-shadowed by her more famous brothers. While reading the novel, I was disappointed Alice was denied the freedom of education her brothers received. But I know of a family who recently provided Ivy League education for the sons and City University for their daughters even though, all had been accepted to Ivy League schools. Seriously, today in the 21st century. The James family letters, along with Alice’s diary blend a compelling narrative with one of literature’s most unusual characters.
Judith Hooper was an editor at Omni magazine and is the author of, Of Moths and Men and co-author of The Three-Pound Universe and Would the Buddha Wear a Walkman? A Catalogue of Revolutionary Tools for Higher Consciousness. Judith lives in Amherst, Massachusetts.
Judith Hooper’s TLC Book Tours TOUR STOPS:
Monday, May 2nd: Thoughts on This ‘n That
Wednesday, May 4th: 5 Minutes for Books
Friday, May 6th: SJ2B House of Books
Monday, May 9th: A Bookish Affair
Wednesday, May 11th: Time 2 Read
Friday, May 13th: A Literary Vacation
Friday, May 13th: Worth Getting in Bed For
Monday, May 16th: Kahakai Kitchen
Wednesday, May 18th: Books on the Table
Thursday, May 19th: View from the Birdhouse
Friday, May 20th: Just One More Chapter