Reviews

Alice In Bed_FINALWhat reviewers are saying about Alice in Bed

In her mesmerizing first novel, Hooper enters the individualist mind-set of the enigmatic Alice. … Much of the novel takes place in her head as she recalls healthier days {and} the idiosyncratic ways of her peculiar family. An incident in bohemian Montmartre where she witnesses women dressed as men lifts her spirits … As it turns out, Alice got literary revenge; her diary became a literary sensation when it was published many years after her death in 1892.
—Booklist (starred review)

The pleasure of Ms. Hooper’s novel comes from its ability to summon [Alice’s} warmth and vitality. “To an observer it looks as if I am immobilized ,” her Alice remarks, “but I am a traveler with a spectral Baedecker, visiting all the places and people I have known.” The novel is made of these memories–of her stifled New England upbringing, the grand adventure of her European travels, her loving if troublesome relationships with her famous brothers, and her devoted “Boston Marriage” with Katherine Peabody Loring….  Ms. Hooper splendidly captures the humor and equanimity with which James faced her ailments…. And the writing is splendidly dressed in the language of the period–Sam Sacks, the Wall Street Journal

“I have learned from fairy tales to be wary of many things,” asserts the subject of Hooper’s biographical novel. “Wicked kings, spindles that prick, jealous stepmothers, obtuse fathers, surly trolls, bad bargains.” Encountering even one item from her list of terrors proved sufficiently crushing for Alice James, a whip-smart woman living in a time of lopsided gender expectations. The only daughter of the theologian Henry James and the youngest among a brood of overachieving brothers that included the novelist Henry and the psychologist William, she playacted the role of effervescent Bostonian socialite while trying to suppress the urges of her body, “with its howling rages, sickening dreads and ravening desires.” Alice was beset with perpetual infirmity, nursing mysterious maladies that defied the diagnostic capabilities of 19th-century medicine.–The New York Times Book Review

Alice in Bed Featured in Lit Hub’s list of “10 Great Books by Women Overlooked in 2015″:  How do you construct a meaningful life when you’re a) bedridden, b) the sibling of two geniuses, and c) a sheltered 19th-century spinster? Some answers: a) give up, b) specialize in theatrical displays of temper, and c) write a journal superb enough to light up a novel over a century later. Thank goodness Alice James, sister to William and Henry, chose c); Hooper’s construct of one brilliant woman’s life is truly elegant.

You can’t keep a good woman down—not even one who’s flat on her back with an undiagnosed illness … The droll and intellectually daring Alice James, persistently ailing sister of William and Henry, takes a fictional turn in Judith Hooper’s Alice in Bed.
More magazine

Hooper’s first novel portrays the exciting, frustrating, and perplexing private life of bed-ridden Alice…. Her sardonic wit repels suitors, and her clear uninterest in marital servitude confuses her peers and parents,… A provocative James-family saga unfolds, as science and medicine teeter between mesmerism and rest cures .. . Though Alice’s journal is kept a secret, she forewarns William of her rise to prominence, even as she is dying: “Arm yourself against my dawn, which may at any moment cast you and Harry into obscurity.” … the true power of this novel is the exquisite language—both in the James’ reproduced letters, and in Hooper’s own impressive, shadow-quill renderings.
—Publishers Weekly

Advance Praise for Alice in Bed

In her debut novel, Alice in Bed, Judith Hooper offers an evocative and boldly intimate portrait of Alice James that is rich in detail and inspiring in its heroism. {Her} Alice … deserves her place as a full-fledged member of the famous literary clan. Even if you have never read a word of Gilded Age literature, you will not want to put this book down.
—David R. Gillham, author of City of Women

In a work of breathtaking imagination, Hooper goes beyond the singular diarist who was Alice James and gives us the person … clearly the equal of her two more illustrious brothers, Henry and William. The James clan was known for quirkiness, even in Boston, but their sibling bond is here revealed as tender, enduring, and full of a private mirth. An extraordinary accomplishment, a captivating read.
—Thad Carhart, author of The Piano Shop on the Left Bank

Reading the devastating character studies in Judith Hooper’s Of Moths and Men, it seemed obvious to me that this marvelously intelligent writer was going to jump to fiction. Now, with Alice in Bed, she has done just that. ,,, an absolutely terrific novel, animated by Alice’s sharp, merciless voice. Judith Hooper is a marvelous writer in any form.
—Charles C. Mann, author of 1491 and 1493