Allison's Book Bag

Musings Meme: Current Reads #8

Posted on: June 17, 2013

MusingMondaysWhat are you reading right now?
What do you think of it?
Why did you chose it?

Any Madeleine L’Engle fans out there? This spring, during my quiet morning time, I have been reading her Crosswicks Journals.  I just finished my newest acquisition and the last in the series. The Two-Part Invention is about her marriage to actor Hugh Franklin, his diagnosis of cancer, and how she handled his eventual death due to many complications.

Madeleine L'Engle

Madeleine L’Engle (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

From The Two-Part Invention, I learned a lot about their relationship. For example, Hugh and Madeleine met while both were working on Chekhov’s Broadway play The Cherry Orchard. On their first date, they talked for ten hours without ever noticing the time passed. When Madeleine returned home that night, she elatedly thought to herself, “I have met the man I want to marry.” The two married a year later.

I also learned about them as parents. For example, her first birth wasn’t an easy one. Then there’s the fact she had to fight to nurse her child, because in those days women used formula. Most remarkable to me though is the resistance she encountered when she tried to set her own feeding times. The nurses wanted her to cut the 2:00 am feeding, but L’Engle wanted to keep it and cut the 6:00 am feeding because that better fit the couple’s lifestyle. At 2:00, they were still up, because of her husband’s hours as an actor.

However, The Two-Part Invention isn’t solely about her marriage. L’Engle also shares in the early chapters about moments in her life before she married, including her first ventures into the writing world. One account of hers which I most enjoyed night has nothing to do with writing or even about dating, but rather is about trying to find a hotel after a late tour night. What complicated the search is that L’Engle had a dog with her. Together, with a friend, L’Engle walked for hours trying to find a place that would allow a dog.

Madeleine L’Engle wrote three other Crosswicks Journals:

  • A Circle of Quiet is described as “the attempt of a gifted woman to define and explore the meaning of her life”. The title comes from her need to sometimes separate herself from those she most loved to regain her sense of proportion. One of my favorite stories is how one day her check bounced because it lacked proper “magnetic gibbersish”. Because she felt violated in not having her signature accepted, she retaliated by writing fake names on her checks. She ended up with ones signed “Jane Austen,” Emily Bronte,” and “Elizabeth Barrett Browning”. None of the checks bounced. Another is how her daughter one day asked her why Mr. Zuckerman (in Charlotte’s Web) wanted to kill Wilbur. When her daughter realized that she family ate pig she decided, despite having once loved it, that now she hated sausage. You may not agree with L’Engle, but she’ll give her plenty to think about. Indeed, my husband and I debated many of her opinions.
  • In The Irrational Season, Madeleine L’Engle shares her faith in a stream-of-consciousness style. She starts by talking about Advent or the new year, which leads to a contemplation of theories of creation, how man and woman came about, sexism, oneness in relationships, and even the end of the universe. Whew! L’Engle ends by talking about the death of her great grandmother, which leads to a contemplation of solitude, a bad fall which left her incapacitated, speech, folklore, inner self, and what matters most in life. In all her multiple ramblings, she also often fails to offer much scriptural basis. For that reason, it’s my least favorites of her nonfiction.
  • The Summer of the Great Grandmother is described as being about the “problems, crises, frustrations, and guilt engendered by her mother’s rapid slide into senility”. When the summer begins, four generations are gathered under one roof. At the end of the summer, the adults plan to return to New York while the young people will need to resume school attendance. The underlying question then on everyone’s mind is what happens in September? I appreciate how L’Engle mixes both the chronological events with the memories of her mother. She talks about how within two days, the family realizes that exactly how much medical care will be needed–especially at night.  At the same time, as her mother rapidly slips into senility, L’Engle goes searching for her through their shared memories. Her first is of her mother’s scent. L’Engle remembers going into her mother’s dressing room, watching her brush her dark mahogany hair and smelling her sweet creams and lotions. As she remembers, L’Engle wonders how to reconcile her now sedentary mother with the the mother who once rode donkeys through mountains, controlled a balky camel, and saw firsthand the fervor which set people to walk over coals. Having experienced the death of several loved ones myself, this book is a comfort every time I read it.

For any Madeleine L’Engle fan, these journals provide insights into Madeleine L’Engle as a wife, mother, daughter, and Christian. Even if you have never read anything by L’Engle, the journals make insightful reads into a strong, opinionated, and complex woman.

What is your current read?

2 Responses to "Musings Meme: Current Reads #8"

Thanks for your visit! The excerpt you shared on your blog of Confessions of an Angry Girl, hooked me enough to make me look up a description of it. 🙂

that sounds intereating though i haven’t read her books… im currently reading Confessions of an Angry Girl

my musing mondays:
http://wp.me/p3v5T1-6h

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