There seems to be something about the name Alice that writers can't resist. Obviously I find it appealing myself, since I used it not just for a book but for a real live daughter.
Did it all begin with Alice in Wonderland?
Then there was Go Ask Alice, and Alice Doesn't Live Here Any More...
But now there seem to be more Alices on the book shelves than ever before! Here's a sample:
Alice, I Think
Alice in Zombieland, Alice in Writerland, Alice in La La Land etc
The Agony of Alice
Alice Parker's Metamorphosis
Dangerously Alice, Almost Alice and Intensely Alice
Alice the Fairy
Alice (numerous authors, including Sandra Wilson, Judith Hermann, Margarette Janoski, Myles Overton, EV Cunningham, Anne Worboys, Nancy Ross, Gary Smith, AK Albaari)
Alice and Aldo
A is For Alice
A Town Like Alice
The Liberation of Alice Love
Alice At Heart
Alice-Miranda At School
Hurry Up, Alice!
What Alice Forgot
... and that's without trying very hard.
A few years ago I started collecting second hand books with "Alice" and "Evie" in the titles. I soon amassed a shelf full of books for the former, but I had to give up when all I could find for Evie was Deliver Us From Evie, and I could see a recipe for resentment brewing.
Is there something about Alice, or do I just notice it more because I have one of my own? Has anyone observed any other popular literary names popping up?
I know I am hardly Robinson Crusoe here, but I hate having my photo taken. I hate it to the point where there are virtually no existing photographs of me between the ages of about sixteen to thirty. Perhaps this is why I have been using the same publicity photo for the last ten years. However, following a recent incident when some librarians almost didn't let me inside for a book talk because I looked nothing like the photo they had pinned up on display, I recognised that it was time for an update.
There have been some shockers taken over the last few years:
When this is what I normally look like, can you blame me for engaging the services of a professional? Vicki Bell is our neighbour, an award-winning photographer, and the mum of Evie's friend from school. How lucky are we???
So this is the new official face of me:
Or maybe this one?
|In younger, more glamorous days!|
|There's an Evie's-eye-view of Cross Mum with multiple chins...|
|... or bleary and cross-eyed in pyjamas...|
|... or reading and red-nosed on the couch.|
So this is the new official face of me:
Or maybe this one?
But this intensive Christie marathon has had an unexpected side effect. I've noticed that Agatha was a feminist. Yes, she has her shallow, stereotypical female characters: her thick-headed maids, her ditzy secretaries and her boring old ladies; and lots of books do end with a wedding on the horizon.
But I've been genuinely surprised to discover so many brave, smart, independent, witty, resourceful and daring heroines in Christie's pages. Emily Trefusis in The Sittaford Mystery, Victoria Jones in They Came To Baghdad, Frankie Derwent in Why Didn't They Ask Evans?, Bridget Conway in Murder Is Easy, Lucy Eylesbarrow in 4.50 From Paddington, all take control of the investigation. Often this woman will have a young man on hand to share the danger, but she is never subservient to him, and it's usually her insight and courage that saves the day.
(And I'm not even going to mention Miss Marple, the over-looked, under-estimated sleuth whose sharp wisdom is discounted because she is just a sweet old lady, and what would sweet old ladies know about life and human nature? Well, quite a lot, as it turns out.)
I used to read a lot of Agatha Christie as a teenager. In later life, I was slightly scathing about the old girl. Well, Agatha, I apologise. Little did I realise that along with intriguing life-and-death puzzles and lots of incidental information about English society between the wars, you were providing me with some excellent female role models.
Generally speaking, I find the lure of reality television relatively easy to resist. All those singing and dancing and cooking shows leave me frankly cold. I do have a soft spot for Wife Swap, but that's about it.
However I must confess I have been sucked in big time by The Block. And it's not just me; every night at seven o'Block (as Channel 9 jocularly calls it) our whole family clusters eagerly around the television for the next installment.
It all becomes much easier once you've picked a favourite couple to barrack for. We are definitely Team Dale and Sophie, won over by Sophie's quirky, creative flair and Dale's Oz-as, dry as toast wit. (Our favouritism was cemented when we learned that they had the excellent taste and good sense to purchase one of our dear friend Sandra Eterovic's pieces; it hasn't been on the show yet, but we won't miss it when it appears!) We love the way Dale matter-of-factly arranges flowers, and the way Sophie is resolutely hopeless with the power tools. We loved the suitcase drawers, the home-made glass jar chandelier, the way they aren't afraid to use wood instead of stainless steel.
We are also fond of nice guys Brad and Lara, and we shake our heads at the OTT follies of brothers Mike and Andrew (mirrored walls in the toilet? seriously?), and have watched with bemusement but no surprise as careful editing has transformed "Melbournites" Dan and Dani into super-competitive super-villains. (Why are Dan and Dani "Melbournites" -- described thusly no less than five times last night -- while Dale and Sophie, also from Melbourne, are apparently not? Is it because to the Sydney-based production staff, "Melbournite" is a term of abuse? Just wondering...)
There are only two weeks to go, Sandra's clock is still to come, and what on earth are we going to do at seven o'clock when it's all over??