I failed; I quit; I did not finish Madeline L’Engle’s The Other Side of the Sun.
I tried, honest I did, but after almost fifty pages I did not care about the characters, nor was I blown away by the strangeness and mystery of the homeplace where the main character was placed, awaiting her husband’s return from some secret government assignment. The ancient aunts, lorded over by the “servant,” the actual owner of the house, did not amuse me, nor did I have sympathy for the young, recent bride. So–I decided not to finish the book. I chose this novel as part of my 2021 Madeline L’Engle “project,”to read as many books by and about this amazing author. It was available as an e-Book from my local library. Maybe that was part of the problem. My Better Half was “hogging” the Kindle, so I attempted to read it on my laptop, an impersonal, artificial way to approach any book. That said, I think I will just pass on this Madeline L’Engle offering and continue reading about her in A Light So Lovely: The Spiritual Legacy of Madeline L’Engle. Perhaps I shall start Light So Lovely tomorrow.
As part of my Madeline L’Engle project, I am reading her autobiography, Circle of Quiet in an eBook. I read it years ago when I first discovered her, in the 70s, and remember being slightly disturbed by her broad spirituality and “religious” beliefs. Now, all these years later, my own philosophy of life and basic beliefs have, not so much changed as, “matured,” and reading her at this late stage of my life is an entirely different experience. I not only am being led by her to “think about things” from a different angle, but to examine my own inner thoughts and, perhaps, to adjust a few of them. Reading her story has been a growth experience. It reminds me of Cassandra Claire’s quote to beware of books because they have the power to change you.
Today’s Friday First Liner comes from A Light So Lovely by Sarah Arthur. This examination of the spiritual legacy of Madeline L’Engle is a gift from blogger Deb Nance of Readerbuzz. She knows about my undertaking to read books by and about Madeline L’Engle and passed this one along to me. Thanks, Debbie.
Here is the first line:”Sitting on my desk is a signed copy of The Rock That is Higher from one of L’Engle‘s Wheaton College visits…” The author recalls her conservative parents having named her “Sarah,” making her one of two “normally” named women attending Wheaton, rather than a hippie-parent’s offspring named something like “River”
“Into that mix came Madeline L’Engle, a giantess in a great flapping dress of patchwork colors…What I do remember is a tall woman sitting at a table in the bookstore blinking her large eyes like a wise and vigilant owl.”
I am already intrigued and can’t wait to start this book.
In January, 2021, I started a personal project to read “all things by and related to Madeline L’Engle. So far I have reread and reviewed on PWR what I thought of as “the Wrinkle in Time trilogy,” only to discover there were two more books about the Wallace family. Also I read a biography by L’Engle’s granddaughters and reviewed it as well (Becoming Madeline).
Recently, I finished Listening for Madeline, which was written in a format I’d not encountered before, a collection of interviews.
Marcus has gathered a “series of incisive interviews with people who know her most intimately…family, colleagues, and friends.” Subtitled “A Portrait of Madeline L’Engle in Many Voices,” this unusual book helps the reader understand the many facets of this outstanding woman/writer. After reading all the comments about her from those who knew her and dealt with her every day, I determined she was a strong woman, somewhat larger-than-life, and one who had her own eccentricities. The people quoted in Listening to Madeline knew her as ” an inspiring mentor, a strong-willed matriarch, a spiritual guide, and a rare friend.” How one woman could be so many things to such diverse individuals is a conundrum I wish to solve as I continue my “project.”
One of my writing goals for 2021 was to read everything by Madeline L’Engle and as much as I could about her. I started in January 2021 with Becoming Madeline, a biography, written by her granddaughters. (See review on PWR.) The biography ended with the publication of A Wrinkle in Time, because, as her granddaughters pointed out, L’Engle had written an autobiography, A Circle of Quiet. I recall that I read it years ago, but don’t remember much of what was in it, so I plan to re-read it SOON!
After Becoming Madeline, I re-read A Wrinklein Time, the graphic novel version of it,
I re-read the second book as well.
As of today 3/7/21, I am finishing the third book, A Swiftly Tilting Planet, a first-time read.
I thought this was the “time travel” or “Wallace family” series of books, but with a bit of research, I happily discovered the series is a quintet!
Here are two excellent quotes by Madeline L’Engle:
Polly, daughter of Meg Murry of A Wrinkle in Time, and neice of Sandy and Denys Murray of Many Waters, is spending time with her mother’s parents in New England. A neighbor, “Bishop Nase” manages to open a Time Gate which transports individuals back in time. Both the Star Gazing Stone and the Old Wall act as portals for Polly on several occasions. Meeting Anaral, a Druid who travels back and forth, and other characters from the time period, Polly and her cowardly friend Zak manage to become stuck 3,000 years before the present.
Back in time, Polly finds herself with The People of the Wind, and later captured by their enemies The People Across the Lake. They are besieged with drought and believe that a blood sacrifice is necessary to bring rain to their land and tribe.
Although the novel is not traditionally religious, it is spiritual and offers something for both believers and non-believers.