Monday 10 September 2012

A Wrinkle in Time

A Wrinkle in Time is an unusual book. A sensation since it was first published in 1962, still an enduring favourite it seems. This year marks the 50th anniversary of A Wrinkle in Time, and I had the opportunity to read it for a second time recently.

I first read A Wrinkle in Time a few years ago. Obviously as an adult. I didn't find it as a child, which is a shame I think. The first time I read it, I really didn't understand it all that well, and so didn't like it all that much. This time through was a different story.

It has a great hook in the first chapter. Right from the first line cliche-

It was a dark and stormy night. 

we are drawn into the story. Meg Murry lives with her mother and three brothers. Her father is absent, a source of much gossip in town. Meg has mouse-brown hair, braces and glasses, she is bright but slipping classes in school because of the family turmoil. On this dark and stormy night, Meg has trouble sleeping, her younger brother Charles Wallace is busy in the kitchen making hot chocolate and tuna fish sandwiches- (if only todays 4 year olds were so capable!), when the mysterious and vaguely scary Mrs Whatsit comes to visit.

What follows is a rather amazing scifi journey. A search for her father with a lot of ponderings about the bigger questions along the way. There's a strong religious vibe to the story. Classic good versus evil doing battle. Shadows falling over good lands that sort of thing. I did wonder if I was imagining it at first, but I wasn't- Madeleine L'Engle had strong Christian beliefs. It's quite interesting. A Wrinkle in Time was both attacked for being too religious by some, but has made the banned books list in the US for some time. It seems that religious conservatives feel it "gives an inaccurate portrayal of God and nurturing in the young an unholy belief in myth and fantasy." Damned if you do and damned if you don't it seems.

While I was reading this book I dined alone in an upmarket restaurant one night. My waitress immediately gushed over the story- her mother had read it to her when she was a young girl, and she had read it many times since. She'd lost her copy, and just the week before had been thinking of buying a new one. I hope our chance meeting prompted her to get her new copy and reacquaint herself with this classic story.

Read as part of my ongoing quest to read 1001 Childrens Books You Must Read Before You Grow Up.


Hannah said...

Oh how funny! The friend I was staying with in Cedar (re)read this while I was there. I thought I might borrow his, but didn't get through my Game of Thrones book in time.

(P.S. The opening line reminds me of the opening line of The Silver Brumby, which I think is "Once there was a dark, stormy night in spring, when, deep down in their holes, the wombats knew not to come out, when the possums stayed quiet in their hollow limbs, when the great flying black phalangers that live in the mountain forests never stirred.")

Satia said...

Definitely one of my favorites even when I reread it as an adult. I read the rest of the quadrology and can't say I enjoyed the other books as much but that's just me.

Dr. Mieke said...

There probably wouldn't be many people who liked the book so much that they called their first born daughter Tesseract ... but I know someone who did ...

(Our 'Tess' is now 16 years old and a lovely young woman!)


Genie -- Paris and Beyond said...

I loved this book many years ago and am glad you have it on your 100-books list. For all the controversy and discussion, I would just say "get over it, people." Your children will follow your values, but let them read for Heaven's sake!


Louise said...

I love a good bit of synchronicity Hannah. Perhaps it will come by your way again. I haven't read The Silver Brumby, yet, but will one day. That opening line is just gorgeous!

I'm glad you loved it so much Satia. It does seem to engender such devotion.

Mieke- how fun! Did you read it in Australia or in Europe?

I completely agree Genie. I find the banned lists extraordinary. Such a lot of bother over nothing in my opinion.

Dr. Mieke said...

I read it as a child in Sydney, then as an adult in Amsterdam, then again just recently here in the Northern Rives!
Interestingly, my youngest daughter's name (Yarrow) was also inspired by a children's book series: Ursula le Guin's trilogy, 'A Wizard of Earthsea', 'The Tombs of Atuan' and 'The Farthest Shore'. Later, a fourth book was added, 'Tehanu'. Have you read those Louise?

Brona said...

Ohhh Louise, I love how our reading interests cross over all the time. I'm doind the Classic Club challenge and have been thinking about adding this to my list.
I read it as a young teen and loved it. the memory of it gives me goosebumps. I'm a little afraid that reading it as an adult could only lead to disappointment.

Your post gives me hope :-)

Louise said...

I certainly wasn't aware of this book as a child. I'm glad someone was able to come across it in Australia. It's growing on me you know. I think maybe a third read in a few years, and maybe I'd love it.

Brona- it's great when that happens isn't it? I'm sure you'll read lots of great stuff on the Classics list. I'm only realising now how good they are, it was totally lost on me when they tried to tell me in high school. I hope you enjoy your reread- I'm sure you will.