Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Madeleine L'Engle

I just finished reading The Summer of the Great-Grandmother by Madeleine L-Engle. It is a poignant true story of the last summer spent with her mother before her death.

She looks back on her childhood and growing up years as an only child of parents who were very cosmopolitan and well-travelled. She laments the fact that she can no longer communicate with her mother as she once did while having morning-long talks over coffee at the kitchen table.

She has to come to terms with the fact that after her mother's death, she's now the 'matriarch' of the family clan; a role she doesn't want but has to accept.

Here's a quote from the book about one thing that formed who she became as an adult. "School was mostly something to be endured; I don't think I learned nearly as much from my formal education as from the books I read instead of doing homework, the daydreams which took me on exciting adventures in which I was intrepid and fearless and graceful, the stories Mother told me, and the stories I wrote. It was in my solitudes that I had a hand in the making of the present Madeleine."

I agree with her, because that is also my experience. I've learned so much more out of school than in. Only in solitude can I work out solutions to problems, think in peace, and be creative.

If you've never read any of her books, I highly recommend them. She's probably best known for A Wrinkle in Time. I prefer her non-fiction. She was also a writer of spiritual books. In the above mentioned book, she was struggling with who God is and traditional religion, but later on she became much stronger in her faith.

*The lady in the photo isn't Madeleine L'Engle, she's an ancestor of mine, Lydia Walker.


Left-Handed Housewife said...

I prefer L'Engle's nonfiction as well. And as someone who was never all that enthusiastic about school, but always loved reading, I completely related to that quote. Thanks for sharing!


Sara Lorayne said...

Like you, I prefer her non fiction works and I know the one you speak of here. I love those four Crosswicks Journals!

I've seen it said somewhere that her family felt her fiction was more true to life as they knew it than her non fiction...an interesting statement to make. But that does not diminish my enjoyment of what she has to say.

wayside wanderer said...

What a great quote! It resonates with me as well and is the thinking at the core of why and how I homeschool. You have really inspired me to read one of her non-fiction books. Do you think A Circle for Quiet would make a good book club book? (I already own it which is why I mention it.)

debbie bailey said...

Hey WW,

I loved A Circle of Quiet, although it's been so long since reading it, I don't remember anything specific about it; only that I loved it.

It would probably be a good bookclub book. You could get online and look at reviews and make a decision.

Cranberry Morning said...

I read (and my children read) several of Madeleine L'Engle's books, but none of her non-fiction. My favorite still is 'A Swiftly Tilting Planet.' So fun to be reminded of her this morning!

Anonymous said...

I read The Summer of the Great-Grandmother many years ago and remember it still. Her non-fiction work is as powerful to me as her children's books were to my own daughters. I saw this posting some day ago and kept meaning to come back sooner. Well done.