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As time went on I was throwing myself into my diary with the zeal of a prisoner in solitary confinement scratching his tale on his cell walls.


My circumstances allowing for nothing but the ejaculation of one-syllables reflections, a written monologue by that most interesting being, myself, may have its consolations. I shall at least have it all my own way.


True, no adoring crowds hung on my every word (except for faithful Nurse, who can always be counted on for praise, like a faithful retainer in a play by Racine), yet somehow my solitude was becoming green and fertile and my life sweet to my sight.



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Alice in Bed: A NovelPaperback – October 11, 2016 by Judith Hooper

From the Publisher. Arm yourself against my dawn, which may at any moment cast you and Harry into obscurity, Alice James writes her brother William in 1891. In Judith Hooper’s magnificent novel, zingers such as this fly back and forth between the endlessly articulate and letter-writing Jameses, all of whom are geniuses at gossiping.

And the James family did, in fact, know everyone intellectually important on both sides of the Atlantic, but by the time we meet her in 1889, Alice has been sidelined and is lying in bed in Leamington, England, after taking London by storm.

We don’t know what’s wrong with Alice. No one does, though her brothers have inventive theories, and the best of medical science offers no help. Her legs no longer support her. She cannot travel home and so is separated from her beloved Katherine. She also suffers fits each day at noon sending her into swooning dreams in which she not so much remembers her life as relives it.

So, with Alice in bed, we travel to London and Paris, where the James children spent part of their unusual childhood. We sit with her around the James family’s dinner table, as she – the youngest and the only girl – listens to the intellectual elite of Boston, missing nothing. We meet her mercurial father, given to visions of angels and firing each governess he hires for her in turn. The book is accompanied by Hooper’s Afterword,“What was Wrong with Alice?,” an analysis of the varied psychological ills of the James family and Alice’s own medical history, untangled, as far as possible, from Victorian medical concepts and beliefs.



Worth Getting in Bed For? Yes. This is an imaginative and witty account of Alice James not just as the invalid sister of her famous brothers.  Hooper depicts Alice as passionate, mischievous, intellectual and thoughtful. She is full of ideas and full of life. This a slowly paced novel that reveals much about the James family and their peers as well as the historical era as these were things Alice cared very much about. The dialogue is realistic and the letters included at the end of chapters provide a nice summary of the family happenings and climate. Obviously well researched, Hooper’ s crossover to fiction is a success.


Copy provided by TLC Book Tours and Publisher

Editorial Reviews


“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

“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.  She presents the reader with an Alice who, far from being a invalid, is a forceful and courageous artist in her own right, and who 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

About the Author

Judith Hooper was an editor at Esquire Magazine, and is the author of Of Moths and Men and co-author of The Three-Pound Universe. She lives in western Massachusetts.
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