Fiction is delicious, I discovered one day. I was about eight, sitting under the sycamore tree in the back yard and reading my mother's childhood copy of "Through the Looking Glass," while idly tearing off and eating the page corners. This old volume is before me now, and it is still full of pleasurable memories, visual, tactile, and even tasty.

The book includes both the Alice stories, with "Alice in Wonderland first." The cover, loved to pieces, shows a full-color Alice plumper than Tenniel's familiar version; she is floating down the rabbit hole in a pose of peaceful surrender, one hand on her breast, something like Saint Teresa in Ecstasy. Inside, the book is inscribed in black ink, "To Barbara from 'Inkle Ferber,' Christmas 1930." I have no idea who these people are. (Perhaps my mother stole the volume from another little girl.) The pages are cream-colored, aging to brown at the edges; they are thick and invitingly chewy. The oversized print is charcoal-gray.

I read "Alice in Wonderland," more than once, but it was "Through the Looking Glass" that I loved best: that was the story that led me to carry the battered volume to high school, to college, off into marriage, even to the hospital to read between contractions. In this second adventure, Alice goes through the drawing-room mirror, which melts like mist to her touch. In the Garden of the Live Flowers, the Red Queen shows Alice the countryside laid out in squares like a chessboard, and invites her to take the place of the White Queen's pawn. As Alice progresses from square to square, she meets characters like Tweedledum and Tweedledee (who recite "The Walrus and the Carpenter"); Humpty Dumpty ("When I use a word, it means just what I choose it to mean"); and the lost, ...

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