About a Book: Alice and Freda Forever

Bechdel test / Feminist / LGBTQ+ / Diversity or POC / Disabled characters

GENRE: Historical LGBTQ+

Book would be great for: learning about queer history

Rating: 6/10

‘Alice and Freda Forever’ by Alexis Coe, is a novel based in 1892. It follows the true story of the tumultuous love affair between Alice and Freda, and the actions that lead to their ultimate demise. The book seems to blend fiction and fact, as it is presented both with long, descriptive chunks of text and pseudo-scientific newspaper extracts, illustrations and court documents. This multi-media approach endears the reader to the book as the different formats stimulate the visual aesthetic and engage the reader.

Whilst the tale of a fearless LGBTQ+ murderer is undoubtedly fascinating, I felt let down by the story. The book seemed to draw out a fairly swift set of events. It was a struggle to push through the book and I had to force myself to get to the end and get some kind of resolution.

I felt that the characterisation suffered due to the author’s division between wanting to write a factually correct account of these true events and the necessary storytelling devices. The characters seemed flat and unbelievable. At points it was even hard to believe that they were all real people.

If I am being perfectly honest, I was skipping pages towards the end in order to find out what happens to Alice and Freda in the end, but without having to actually sit through the whole thing. A fantastic story that would make a stunning film, sadly let down by the novel form.