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Literature / After Alice

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After Alice is a 2015 novel by Wicked author Gregory Maguire that acts as a Lower-Deck Episode to Alice's Adventures in Wonderland.

Set during the events of the original book, this novel gives Ascended Extra status to two of Wonderland's minor characters: Alice's best friend, Ada, who was The Ghost and only mentioned in passing by Alice in one of the latter's monologues, and Alice's older sister Lydia, who only appeared in person at the beginning and end of the original story. When Alice follows the White Rabbit down the rabbit hole into Wonderland, Ada and Lydia both go looking for her: Ada by following her down the rabbit hole, and Lydia by searching through 1860's Oxford. The rest of the novel alternates between their two perspectives—Ada's journey through the fantastical, nonsensical world of Wonderland, and Lydia's traverse around Oxford, which has it own, more subtle set of contradictions and illogic. (Alice herself only appears in person at the end of the book.)


Also thrown into the mix are Josiah Winter, a handsome young abolitionist from the United States who's paying a visit to Alice and Lydia's father, and Siam, a former black slave boy from the Southern U.S. who Mr. Winter helped escape to freedom through the Underground Railroad and later ends up in Wonderland himself by falling through a looking glass.

After Alice contains the following tropes:

  • A Dayinthe Limelight: The novel gives this to Ada and Lydia.
  • Affably Evil: The Walrus and the Carpenter devour poor, unsuspecting young oysters alive but still take the time to engage in a polite, friendly conversation with Ada.
  • All Just a Dream: Subverted. Alice thinks her adventures in Wonderland were this, but this is only because she passed out in the Queen of Hearts' courtroom when the Jabberwock appeared and thus wasn't conscious when Ada took her back to the surface world.
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  • Ambiguous Ending: It's implied at the end that Ada's trip through Wonderland may have magically straightened her crooked spine, but the novel never officially makes it clear.
  • Animate Inanimate Object: The Jabberwock is Ada's iron corset that somehow came to life and turned into a monster while in Wonderland. There's also the Queen and King of Hearts (living playing cards), the White Queen (a living chess piece), and the Tin Ballerina and Tin Bear (living marionettes).
  • Ascended Extra: Ada (Alice's best friend) and Lydia (Alice's sister) are two minor characters from the original book given this status here.
  • Biblical Motifs : Ada makes several references to the story of Noah's Ark in the Bible, and the White Queen at one point turns into a pillar of salt just like Lot's Wife. (Unlike Lot's Wife, however, the White Queen eventually gets better.)
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  • Blithe Spirit: Alice is described in the narration as being able to bring out the best in those around through her kindness, innocence and optimism.
  • Canon Foreigner: Josiah Winter, Siam, and Miss Armstrong (Alice's governess) in Oxford and the Tin Ballerina and Tin Bear in Wonderland.
  • Cheshire Cat Grin: From the Trope Namer himself.
  • Cloud Cuckoo Land: Wonderland of course, but Oxford is also portrayed as this due to the Deliberate Values Dissonance of 1860's British society.
  • Cool Old Guy: The White Knight.
  • Cool Old Lady: The White Queen.
  • Courtroom Antics: The courtroom of the Queen of Hearts is just as crazy and nonsensical here as it was in the original book.
  • Decomposite Character: The Sheep was the White Queen's alter-ego in ''Through the Looking Glass", but they're separate characters in this version and even get to converse with one another.
  • Deliberate Values Dissonance: Maguire certainly doesn't shy away from showing the racism, sexism and clashes between science and religion present in 1860's Oxford, while the characters of Mr. Winter and Siam serve as a reminder of the evils of slavery in 1860's America.
  • The Determinator: Despite her physical handicaps and constant bewilderment over Wonderland and its Cloud Cuckoo Lander inhabitants, Ada won't quit searching until she's found Alice and brought her back to Oxford.
  • Dont Gointhe Woods: Shortly after arriving in Wonderland, Siam ends up lost in the Wood of No Names, where everyone who enters into it is magically made to forget his or her name. He later meets the White Rabbit in the Wood, who is also lost and unable to remember his name.
  • Down the Rabbit Hole: How Alice and Ada both get in Wonderland.
  • The Dreaded: The Jabberwock to the inhabitants of Wonderland.
  • Earn Your Happy Ending: It takes her the entire book, but Ada finally succeeds in finding Alice, escaping Wonderland with her, and returning her friend to Oxford. She also loses her awful iron corset for good and gains a new sense of self-confidence as a result of her adventures.
  • Eldritch Location: Wonderland is a relatively harmless version of this trope, shifting around Ada and transporting her from one location (like the Pool of Tears or the hall of locked doors in the rabbit hole) to another (like the upper branches of a tree or the Mad Hatter's tea party) at random.
  • Faeries Dont Believein Humans Either: As in Through the Looking Glass, the Unicorn doesn't believe human children are real, even after meeting two human children (Alice and Ada) in the flesh.
  • The Ghost: Alice herself, who never appears in person until the end. Tweedledum and Tweedledee also count, only being mentioned in passing by Queen Victoria. Ada herself was this in the original book.
  • Go Among Mad People: Well, what else does Ada expect to happen when she's in Wonderland?
  • God Save Us from the Queen!: The Queen of Hearts as usual. Averted, however, by the White Queen and Queen Victoria.
  • Heterosexual Life-Partners: Ada and Alice.
  • Hero of Another Story: Alice.
  • Historical Domain Character: Charles Darwin, Queen Victoria, and a young man who is heavily implied to be Lewis Carroll himself.
  • I Choose to Stay: Siam chooses to stay in Wonderland at the end of the novel rather than go back to the unjust and bigoted surface world.
  • Living Toys: The Tin Ballerina and Tin Bear are walking, talking marionettes.
  • Lower-Deck Episode: After Alice focuses on what Ada, Lydia and the other people in Alice's life are up to during the latter's famous trip to Wonderland.
  • The Mad Hatter: Ada meets the Trope Namer himself.
  • Magic Mirror: Like Alice in Through the Looking Glass, Siam ends up in Wonderland by traveling through the mirror above the fireplace in Alice and Lydia's house.
  • Magic Mushroom: The Caterpillar's mushroom as always.
  • Missed Him by That Much: Ada keeps running into inhabitants of Wonderland who have met and talked to Alice earlier, but never finds Alice herself until the very end.
  • Missing Mom: Alice and Lydia's mother has recently died when the events of the novel begin.
  • Named by the Adaptation: Alice's sister (unnamed in the original books) is here named Lydia, she and Alice are given the last name of Clowd, and Ada is given the last name of Boyce.
  • Nothing Is Scarier: The Jabberwock only appears in person at the end of the book, but it's just as scary when the only sign of its presence is its terrible roar.
  • Nursery Rhyme: The Queen of Hearts, King of Hearts, Lion, Unicorn, and Humpty Dumpty all originate from these.
  • Of Corset Hurts: Ada has to wear a heavy, restricting iron corset in order to fix her crooked spine. It falls off of her twice—once when she lands in Wonderland, where it turns into the Jabberwock, and for good at the end after she returns from Wonderland with Alice. She may not need it anymore by this point, since it's implied that something about Wonderland magically straightened her spine.
  • Off with His Head!: The Queen of Hearts is just as decapitation-happy as in the original book.
  • Only Friend: Alice to Ada.
  • O.O.C. Is Serious Business: When she finally catches up with Alice at the end of the book, Ada is very surprised to see her normally very polite and respectful best friend mouthing off to the Queen of Hearts.
  • People Zoo: Ada and the White Queen somehow end up in display in Wonderland's version of this, where animals look at the humans on display.
  • Precocious Crush: Lydia (who is only fifteen) has a crush on Mr. Winter (who is in his twenties at least).
  • Public Domain Character: Alice and most of the Wonderland characters from the original books.
  • Punch-Clock Villain: The Executioner, who has to study a script given him by the Queen of Hearts to know who he's supposed to execute next.
  • Random Events Plot: Other than her goal of trying to find Alice, Ada's journey through Wonderland is just as random as Alice's. (Possibly even more random in this case, since Wonderland itself keeps shifting around Ada and transporting her from location to location.)
  • Riddle for the Ages: Just how did Queen Victoria end up in Wonderland in the first place?
  • Secondary Character Title: Alice's name is in the title, but she's not the main character here—that role goes to Ada, Lydia and Siam.
  • Sequel Hook: Ada mentally promises to come back for Siam if she ever makes it back to Wonderland.
  • Sesquipedalian Loquaciousness: The inhabitants of Wonderland are much more prone to this than in the original book.
  • Shout-Out: The narrator in Chapter 30 references (then yet to be written) famous works of literature like The Great Gatsby, James Bond, PeterPan, TheLordoftheRings, and The Chronicles of Narnia.
  • Slavery Is a Special Kind of Evil: Mr. Winter (an abolitionist) and Siam (a former slave himself) both know this all too well.
  • Small Role, Big Impact: Alice only appears in person at the very end of the book, but it's her disappearance into Wonderland—and Ada and Lydia's subsequent searches for her—that drives most of the book's plot.
  • Spotof Tea: The Mad Hatter and March Hare's favorite pastime.
  • Suddenly Speaking: The Duchess's pig-baby, who could only cry or grunt in the original book, is fully capable of speech here.
  • Talking Animal: As in the original book, most of the animals of Wonderland have the ability to talk.
  • Talkingto Plants: Ada converses with three talking Roses by the shore of the Pool of Tears.
  • Token Black: Siam.
  • Unexplained Recovery: The White Queen turns into a pillar of salt after eating a piece of the Caterpillar's mushroom, but later shows up at the Queen of Hearts' courtroom just fine and dandy and back to (relatively) normal.
  • Unwitting Instigatorof Doom: Ada letting her iron corset fall off of her when she lands in Wonderland is what causes it to turn into the terrible Jabberwock.
  • Victorian Britain: Where Ada, Alice, Lydia and all the other "real-world" characters (with the exception of Mr. Winter and Siam) live.
  • Villainy Discretion Shot: Ada meets the Walrus and the Carpenter after they've eaten all of the oysters, and so they come off as very polite and friendly to her.
  • What Happenedtothe Mouse?: Did Queen Victoria ever make it out of Wonderland and back to Great Britain after Ada and Alice did?
  • The Wonderland: The Trope Namer itself appears here.

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