Judith Hooper's new novel is Alice in Bed.
From the author's Q & A with Deborah Kalb:
Q: Why did you decide to write a novel about Alice James?--Marshal Zeringue
A: It happened when I was researching a nonfiction book centered in late 19th century Boston that was refusing to come together. I fell mysteriously ill (not unlike Alice James) and while stopped dead in my tracks, I found myself unexpectedly switching gears to fiction.
William James had been part of my stalled book and I was drawn to the diary and letters of his “hysterical” sister. Alice was droll, original, and somehow startlingly modern; she didn’t suffer fools gladly and painted hilarious word-portraits of her world (referring to Britain’s “tinsel monarchy” and observing, “How they must love to see a back!”)
Perhaps because she herself had suffered, she empathized with the English poor, the Irish, and colonized people everywhere. She’d have made a great heroine even if she hadn’t had two famous brothers and written a diary that stunned the literary world.
As a devotee of Proust, I was drawn to this person with a vivid inner life and almost no outer life. But how to write it? My solution—which did not emerge immediately-- was to...[read on]