Madeleine L’Engle: A Wrinkle in Time and 59 Other Titles

Twentieth-century author Madeleine L’Engle, best known for A Wrinkle in Time, a young adult novel that won the Newbery Award in 1963, wrote sixty novels during her lifetime (1918-2007). If you haven’t read A Wrinkle in Time ever or recently, I highly recommend it whether you are young, middle-aged or older: “It was a dark and stormy night. In her attic bedroom, Margaret Murry, wrapped in an old patchwork quilt, sat on the foot of her bed and watched the trees tossing in the frenzied lashing of the wind.”

Teen protagonist Meg Murry is distraught because her father, experimenting with time travel and the fifth dimension, has mysteriously disappeared. Now the time has come for Meg, her friend Calvin O’Keefe, and her young brother, Charles Wallace, to rescue him. They must overcome the forces of evil, but they discover that intelligence is no match for the brainwashing power of IT.

Like JK Rowling in her more contemporary “Harry Potter” series, Madeleine L’Engle focused on the power of love to overcome darkness. Beloved little brother Charles Wallace has been been mentally and emotionally “hijacked”, and his sister cannot reach him with reason. This novel is not a cold science fiction adventure, but a warm-hearted call to familial connection set in a fascinating mixed-up setting of real life and intergalactic fantasy.

Did you know that A Wrinkle in Time is the first in a series of five books? Recently, I went back and re-read the first three and then, read the fourth and fifth for the first time, since I missed them as a young adult reader. (A Wrinkle in Time Quintet titles in order of publication: A Wrinkle in Time, A Wind in the Door, A Swiftly Tilting Planet, Many Waters, An Acceptable Time).

I would like to add a brief comment that the movie, “A Wrinkle in Time”, released in 2003, although not exactly bad, certainly doesn’t have the emotional impact of the book.

Madeleine L’Engle

Many years ago, I saw Ms. L’Engle in person when she was awarded an honorary degree at my alma mater, Wheaton College, Illinois. Her rich and interesting life included a childhood in New York City, time in France at boarding school, living with her wealthy grandfather in South Carolina, acting, supporting her actor husband, Hugh Franklin, in Manhattan’s theatre circles, and running a general store in rural Connecticut.

I just finished re-reading A Circle of Quiet, the first volume in The Crosswicks Journals, an autobiographical series full of enjoyable and thought-provoking personal anecdotes, culled from her own writer’s journals. Several times as I read this book at my bedtime, I threw back the cozy quilt and hurried barefoot to my teen daughter’s room to read her an excerpt. I referenced A Circle of Quiet in my everyday conversations and found myself inspired to keep writing in my imperfect way:

 “A great painting, or symphony, or play, doesn’t diminish us, but enlarges us, and we, too, want to make our own cry of affirmation to the power of creation behind the universe. This surge of creativity has nothing to do with competition, or degree of talent. When I hear a superb pianist, I can’t wait to get to my own piano, and I play about as well now as I did when I was ten. A great novel, rather than discouraging me, simply makes me want to write. This response on the part of any artist is the need to make incarnate the new awareness we have been granted through the genius of someone else.” (A Circle of Quiet) (The Crosswicks Journals in order of publication: The Summer of the Great-Grandmother, The Irrational Season, Two-Part Invention: The Story of a Marriage)

Now I am on to Meet the Austins, the first of the five Austin Chronicles, one of which received the Newbery Honor Medal (A Ring of Endless Light). I welcome your comments about Madeliene L’Engle or any of her novels.

Pineneedles and Papertrails Propaganda moment: Do you want your kids to be readers? According to Patrick Jones, author of Connecting with Reluctant Teen Readers, parents must model reading behavior and allow kids to see that parents “waste time” in nonessential pleasure reading. This helps the child to allow himself the same luxury.

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12 thoughts on “Madeleine L’Engle: A Wrinkle in Time and 59 Other Titles

  1. Madeleine L’Engle is my all-time favorite author. I’m so jealous that you got to meet her!! I’ve ready all of her YA books and they’re SO good. My fav is A Ring of Endless Light. So keeping reading the Austin series, they’re awesome. 🙂

  2. Pingback: Top Ten Tuesday: 10 Places Books Have Made Me Want to Visit | Barbara Hartzler

  3. You always pick the most marvelous books! I loved ‘Wrinkle in Time’, and I heard recently that a very competent producer was looking to make a movie of it (not like the botched TV movie). I’m keeping my fingers crossed. Thanks again for highlighting a remarkable writer.

    • Thanks for commenting, Ruth! Do you mean to say that the 2003 movie was a TV movie! Hallelujah! I just couldn’t get into it. But of course, beloved stories in books often can’t come fully alive on the silver screen. On the other hand, I have found great books from watching a movie and then discovering it was based on a novel! I am enjoying Meet the Austins. I relive my childhood or fill in the gaps because it was imperfect. I feel as if Madeleine L’Engle was writing about my twelve-year-old self when she described Vicky Austin.

  4. I love her books! We have a bunch of them on our bookshelves, and they are well-read and well-worn! I didn’t realize she’d written 60 books, though. We only have 10–guess I better get busy! 🙂

  5. Have you read her non-fiction, “Walk on Water”? Life. Changing. I highly recommend it!

  6. Wow! Do you plan to read all 60? I loved the Wrinkle in Time books, especially the third one.

    • Thanks for commenting, Hope. Well… right now I have my sights set on 8 more (Austin Family series and The Crosswicks Journals). That will only bring me to 13 of 60….20%. But in the future… it would be a worthy goal. Have you read A Circle of Quiet?

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