Thursday, December 06, 2007

In Which I Am On A Roll and Finish Yet Another Book
After rereading with much disappointment The Chronicles of Narnia, I came to Madeleine L’Engle’s Time Quartet with some hesitancy. Not that I had ever read all of the books. The first, A Wrinkle in Time, was published when I was born. The second was printed eleven years later and eleven years after that the fourth book was released. I prefer not to read books that are a part of a series until the series is actually finished being written and published. I’ve been burned in the past with waiting endlessly for the next book’s release. Worse, I’ve read the first of a series which, because of poor sales, was never published in its entirety! I reread A Wrinkle in Time. I had read it as a young girl and never read any of the sequels. I had thought about it. Perhaps I had even intended to do so. But other books (like Harry Potter) got in my way. And given my discouraged response to Lewis’ books I was thrilled to finish rereading it knowing I had also enjoyed it. Huge relief. Still, I resisted reading the second book. Now not because I thought revisiting an old friend would be a let down but because I had really enjoyed the first book and didn’t want any disappointment whatsoever. I am not disappointed in A Wind in the Door although the story was not as compelling to me as the previous book’s was. Nevertheless, I was immersed and interested enough to read through the book quickly. I love how L’Engle weaves her spiritual beliefs into her story. She does it, in my opinion, better than Lewis ever could or would. Perhaps mostly because that is her intention. I don’t think Lewis ever meant his Narnia or Space books to be anything but heavy handed allegory. L’Engle, however, infuses her story with imagery and teaching that is clearly Christian but would not offend most non-Christian readers. (However, let me point out that they have offended Christian readers who have attempted to have these books banned because they feel she is promoting non-Christian values.) What struck me most about this book was not the story so much as its context. I had read a book by L’Engle a long time ago in which she writes about her own name and naming. I wish I could find the book, refer to it, but I can’t and I read what I am about to share over 10 years ago so I am probably not going to be accurate. If I remember correctly, I read about L’Engle’s childhood in A Stone for a Pillow. In it she describes being raised in an orphanage where she was raised without a name. At some point she herself chose a name and became Madeleine. She explained that the power of having a name, of being able to define yourself by a name, was very important. Her name identified her. And in this second book of The Time Quartet the importance of naming things plays a significant role. As I was reading through the book I kept thinking about this remembered story of L’Engle’s own childhood, guessing that this experience from her past helped ground the novel in meaning for her on a deeper level than perhaps most readers. What’s in a name? A rose by any other name would smell as sweet. Or, as Anne of Green Gables says, "I've never been able to believe it. I don't believe a rose WOULD be as nice if it was called a thistle or a skunk cabbage." But I digress. I have in front of me the four books bound in a single volume. I approached reading it with caution, with trepidation. I did not want my childhood delight in the first book to be spoiled. It wasn’t. I did not want to be disappointed by the second book. I’m not. And now, rather than being cautious, I am eagerly anticipating the next book, to see what happens to the family and how L’Engle will continue flavoring her stories with her spirituality in such a manner that I have no choice but to savor every word. I’ll surely be updating with a review in the next week or two.


  1. At the moment, I'm reading a John Sanford novel "Easy Prey". The weather has not been conducive to my going to the library, so I'm stuck with what is in house.

    I like mysteries, but am not sure I'm going to enjoy this one...none of the characters pop out at me and say "Watch me"

    Generally, I have a wide taste in literature. I just hate reading things because they're good for me.

    I am going to have to check out your suggestion. I've never heard of her.

    And I've spent a lot of space saying nothing.

  2. Ray

    If I worried about saying something or wasting space, I surely wouldn't have a blog let alone five!!! LOL!