reads from her magnificent novel, Alice in Bed.
"In a work of breathtaking imagination, Hooper goes beyond the singular diarist who was Alice James and gives us the person--audaciously curious, unapologetically original, and 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
"The pleasure of Ms. Hooper’s novel comes from its ability to summon this warmth and vitality. . . .splendidly captures the humor and equanimity with which James faced her ailments. . .And the writing is elegantly dressed in the language of the period."--Sam Sacks, The Wall Street Journal
"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 Hooper's magnificent book, 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. No one knows what's wrong with Alice--though her brothers have inventive theories--even 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 parts of their unusual childhoods. We sit with her around the James family 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. An enticing read on a par with Colm Toibin's The Master.
Judith Hooper was an editor at Esquire, and is the author of Of Moths and Men and co-author of The Three-Pound Universe. A Bay Area native, she now lives in western Massachusetts.