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Alison Wonderland [Kindle Edition]

Helen Smith

Print List Price: CDN$ 18.95
Kindle Price: CDN$ 5.01 includes free international wireless delivery via Amazon Whispernet
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Product Description


Only occasionally does a piece of fiction leap out and demand immediate cult status. Alison Wonderland is one... Smith is at the very least a minor phenomenon. --The Times

Made me sigh and throw it to the floor in a fit of envious pique. --Julie Burchill, Guardian

This is a story that can be devoured whole or nibbled in small bites, but is guaranteed to brighten your day. --Morning Star

A fantastical Thelma and Louise meets Agatha Christie adventure story. The dialogue is smart and the deadpan humour is perfectly judged. --The List

Smith's strength comes to the fore when she's drifting, observing the incidentals of life... this clean, seemingly effortless voice gives Alison Wonderland an impressive edge.

Product Description

After Alison Temple discovers that her husband is cheating on her, she does what any jilted woman would do: she spray-paints a nasty message for him on her wedding dress and takes a job with the detective firm that found him out. Being a detective at the all-female Fitzgerald's Bureau of Investigation in London is certainly a change of pace from her previous life, especially considering the characters Alison meets in the line of duty. There's her boss, the estimable Mrs. Fitzgerald; Taron, Alison's eccentric best friend, who claims her mother is a witch; Jeff, her love-struck, poetry-writing neighbor; and -- last but not least! -- her psychic postman. Together, their idiosyncrasies and their demands on Alison threaten to drive her mad...if she didn't need and love them all so much. Clever, quirky, and infused with just a hint of magic, Alison Wonderland is a literary novel about a memorable heroine coping with the everyday complexities of modern life.

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Product Details

  • Format: Kindle Edition
  • File Size: 497 KB
  • Print Length: 200 pages
  • Publisher: Lake Union Publishing (Aug. 16 2011)
  • Sold by: Amazon Digital Services, Inc.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B004KA9TTE
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Not Enabled
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #19,907 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 2.9 out of 5 stars  247 reviews
10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars I Tried and Tried and Tried May 14 2013
By E. Burian-Mohr - Published on
Format:Paperback|Vine Customer Review of Free Product
This is the story of Alison Temple (who goes by the name Alison Wonderland, pun intended) who is depressed... well, disturbed, well... at loose ends after she and her husband split up. So she goes to work for a detective agency where she can watch others who are depressed, well, disturbed, well... at loose ends.

I received this book through Amazon Vine and immediately curled up with it, hoping for a good quirky read. You know those books you can't put down? This, for me, wasn't one of them. I put it down almost immediately. And it disappeared almost immediately. Were the reading gods trying to tell me something?

But I had a commitment. I had asked for the book and I was going to read and review it.

So I searched the house. I looked in other stacks of books, I looked in dark corners and cat beds and bags of books to be taken to the thrift store. It was nowhere. It had truly vanished. So I bought the Kindle edition, still determined to read it and review it.

I told myself that, if I just read one chapter at a sitting, in 38 sittings I would finish it. So I tried and tried some more. But it meanders. And I found most of the characters to be, in addition to meandering, unsympathetic. Do you really want to invite someone over who does lines of coke on your record album covers in your bedroom? Do you want to read a book about someone who passively goes along with this?

Me neither.

It could leave you depressed, well, disturbed, well... at loose ends.
16 of 18 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Hideously Mediocre yawn yawn yawn then a yawn of relief Dec 20 2012
By Cassandra - Published on
Format:Kindle Edition
Some of the "positive" reviews on here lack credibility and although I respect other people's opinions there's an irresistable inference that some have been more than a little charitable with their glowing comments for this writer's style, delivery, content and premise . This is a disorganised poorly written piece of dribble shovelled at hapless readers with no inkling as to what constitutes "quirky". I was promised "Thelma and Louise", with a litte Brit kick instead I was treated to a turgid onslaught of a straggling discourse that never ended . That same thudding monotone over and over again . There is no sincereity in the character she is a cardboard relic of a cultural cliche and nobody not even the writer herself it would seem believes in her . Here is an excerpt which better explains it "...then I'd go and lie in bed ..waxwork ..lifeless limbs" "nothing tied me to him money children just a summer day and a white dress". Seriously I could read better prose fom a cereal packet and those lines were the better ones . This is horrendous writing posing as something more and that is the deception . This book lacks verve , passion , sparkle and above all integrity . Faded and cliched it is a masterpiece of hype and disguise . Dull, unconvincing and trite .
14 of 16 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Decidedly different, but your kind of different? Let's see if I can help you figure that out. 3.5 stars July 5 2011
By Sharon Isch - Published on
Format:Paperback|Vine Customer Review of Free Product
I've not yet read the other reviews here, but I'm betting you'll be hard put to find one that doesn't have "quirky" in its first paragraph, most likely in its first sentence. There's a reason for that. This book is weird, wacky and wanders all over its plot like a kid with no attention span. It dabbles in drugs and snacks on brands of junk food that're generally unknown on this side of the Atlantic, is written mostly in first-person Britspeak and every once in awhile comes up with what a British quote book I delved into recently referred to as "puddles of wisdom."

Its backstory goes thisaway: A young woman who suspected her husband of cheating hired a detective agency, found out she was right, got divorced and soon after got hired on as an investigator for the detective agency.

As our story opens, a few years have passed, and the agency owner, Ella Fitzgerald, taps our narrator, Alison Temple--who prefers to be known as Alison Wonderland--to suss out the story behind some suspected secret shenanigans by a couple of guys named Bird and Flower at a rival detective agency, who are acting on behalf of one of their clients, Emphglott, a pharmaceutical company. Emphglott specializes in vivisection and genetic manipulation in animals and recently broke the legs of 37 beagles without anesthetic to test a drug that's supposed to heal broken bones. And animal rights activists are anxious to know what they're plotting to do this time.

Meanwhile, Alison is approached by a former acquaintance, a club owner named Taron, who wants Alison to research the most likely places in Britain where people dump their abandoned babies. Seems Taron's mother, who is a witch, is depressed and Taron thinks gifting her mom with an abandoned baby might cheer her up. So Alison and Taron hit the road in search of abandoned baby sites and nefarious Emphglott activities. Meanwhile, back on the homefront, there's a kidnapping....

Here's a small sampler of Alisonisms to give you a taste of the writing herein:

"I'd like to have children," I confess, "but I don't want to be pregnant. I'd like to go home one night and realize I'd forgotten I already had some children. They'd all be waiting for me, lined up in matching clothes like The Sound of Music."

"My head is very clear. I feel like a wineglass, with my neck for a stem and my head so clear and round that you could flick it and it would go 'ting'."

"It is fairly well documented that when schizophrenics hear voices they commonly describe hearing a middle-aged male BBC presenter. A less well-known fact is that mental patients often mistook Princess Diana for Moors murderess Myra Hindley when she visited them, which upset her."

"One growth area in our industry is vetting neighbours for potential house buyers now that the housing market is supposedly picking up again. Over the past seven years there have been seventeen suicides and murders in Britain because of noise disputes, so it's not as crazy as it sounds."

"Once I went to the National Gallery. It was awash with beautiful foreign men, their eyes filled with longing. They didn't look at the paintings; their eyes swept the faces of the women there, searching for a sign. I wasn't sure what sign to give so I went home."

So.... Four stars for being off-the-wall kind of different and a quick and easy read at only 189 pages long; minus half a star for just sort of petering out at the end.
7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars A bit confusing, yet endearing Aug. 24 2011
By Jac (Two Moms Reading Blogger) - Published on
One thing I really enjoyed about the book was the main character, Alison! She really seemed like someone I would be friends with, and that made this book an enjoyable read. (In fact, all of the characters were marvelous!)

I also loved that it wasn't "Americanized" to bring it here! It was refreshing to read something with the British spellings and slang.

I do have one (somewhat major) complaint about this book, the first and most major being the head jumping. It took me several chapters to see what point of view (and who) I was with. That made it a little difficult to really get "into" the book.

In the end, I enjoyed Alison Wonderland, but I really felt that there was too much squeezed into one very little book and too many different points of view. (And a few VERY bizarre interactions.) That said? Witty Characters, and British charm made this book work, I give Alison Wonderland 3 1/2 stars.
6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars a fantastical adventure May 1 2012
By Sadie Forsythe - Published on
Alison Wonderland reminds you that you don't have to fall down a rabbit hole to encounter the strange and fantastical. It leaps off the page at you. Be warned, however, you can't sit back and lazily read it. You'd get lost for sure, because it does jump around. The reader leaps from the head of one character to the next with little warning of the impending change, but once you've learned that this could happen at any moment it becomes one more quirk of the book. Just as you can never guess what the characters might say next, you can't get too comfortable that you even know who might be saying it. It keeps you on your toes.

It may not be to everyone's taste. Alison and her cohort tend to treat everything from love poems, to mysterious Buddhist drummers, to oral sex with the same nonplus equanimity. Personally I thought this enhanced the novel in the same way that seeing someone tell a bad joke with a stoic, straight face is somehow funnier than when they're grinning. Others, however, may think it falls flat. This I'm afraid is probably just a matter of preference. You like it or you don't. I do.

Reading Alison Wonderland, I'm perhaps in a relatively unique position. I'm an American living in England. This is of note because there are some definite cultural references in the book that those outside of the UK would not get. Helen waxes lyrical about Lichorice Allsorts, Jammy Dodgers, and Wagon Wheels, for example. While not wholly unheard of in the States (I can't speak to the rest of the world) they aren't common enough to evoke familiarity as intended in the novel and I can see that this might leave people scratching their heads and wondering `what was all that about?'

Overall, I enjoyed Alison Wonderland. I liked the quirky characters' ability to accept their comrades' foibles unquestioningly. I liked the seemingly random nature of the events and the obscured ending. I never could decide if it was happy or not. I did feel a little bit like I knew every detail of a week (or so) of Alison's life and very little about Alison, but knowing too much just might have ruined the magic.

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