It was a dark and stormy night: Fondly remembering Madeleine L'Engle

It's one of those books that came to me at the precise moment I desperately needed it and stayed with me...well, so far forever. Sixth grade was a miserable year for me. At home, my mother was recovering from a terrible car accident. At my strict parochial school, my teacher was an elderly man whose senile dementia erupted daily into verbal abuse and sometimes physical violence. In a desperate effort to be like my uber-perfect big sister, I went out for cheerleading and was horrifically unlucky enough to be placed on the squad. I didn't fit in (to put it mildly), and the other girls didn't candy-coat their disdain for me. I begged to quit. Pretended sprained ankles. Faked sick a lot. All I wanted was to climb up into the giant mulberry tree in front of our house and read.

One day, as I returned my Chronicles of Narnia revisitation stack, the librarian handed me A Wrinkle in Time, which happened to be on top of the incoming bin. "If you're looking for another series," she said. And I shrugged a sixth grader shrug. I started reading on way home and never again looked at my world in quite the same way.

From the obituary on Madeleine L'Engle's official website today:
Madeleine L'Engle Camp Franklin, 88, of Goshen, CT and New York City, died Thursday, September 6th. Born November 29, 1918, in New York City, to Charles Camp and Madeleine Barnett Camp, she was educated in Switzerland and South Carolina, before graduating from Smith College. She was the author of over 60 books, including the award-winning A Wrinkle in Time. ...She was a warm, loving and fun mother, grandmother and friend, who will be missed by many. Her influence will live on in her family and many friends, and in her books which have brought countless delight to all who have read them.

"Artists of all disciplines must be willing to go into the dark," L'Engle wrote in Penguins and Golden Calves. "Let go control. Be surprised."


I discovered her Wrinkle in Time series while reading the book to a class of fifth graders. We loved it so much, we read aloud the series. Those kids would rather listen than do recess.

Brilliant lady... she'll be missed.
Suzan Harden said…
Oh my gosh! Ms. L'Engle will be missed. I loved her books!

I went out and bought 'A Wrinkle in Time' and the two sequels when I found out I was pregnant. Somehow we haven't gotten to them yet because of a kid named Potter...
Hi Joni,

"Wrinkle" is one of the few books that stands out from my childhood -what a haunting tale.

Much thanks for turning me on to the Patricia Kay workshop. Looks like a good one to take.

Josephine Damian
Thanks for stopping by, Josephine. I think you'll like Pat Kay's workshops. She's amazing.

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