Madeleine L’Engle: A Personal Heroine Passes

One of my favorite authors of all time died today.

Madeleine L’Engle died in a nursing home in Connecticut at age 88.  She was best known, of course, for her book A Wrinkle in Time, which my sister and I read and re-read and read again as we were growing up. I read it to both of my children as they grew up, and I’ve re-read it on my own as an adult several times.

It is simply of the best books ever, all about the power of love.  Besides the main characters of Meg and her supposedly "slow" brother Charles Wallace, it features such wonderful characters as Mrs. Who, Mrs. Whatsit, and Mrs. Which, and the Happy Medium. 

I love the opening scene, in which a stormy night has awakened Meg and her brother and her mother and they are having hot chocolate in the kitchen of their big, book-filled home, when the door flies open and in bursts one of the Mrs. Ws (my brain refuses to remind me which one.)

"Wild nights are my glory!" she exclaims.

I just love that.  Every time we have a storm I think of that line. 

And of course, the neighborhood on the planet of Camazotz where the children all open the door at precisely the same time, and then bounce a rubber ball in rhythm, is a standard short-cut description for certain places of extreme conformity.  "Just like Camazotz," we’ll say. 

I’ve also read her Austin family books, most of them when I was an adult.  And her Crosswicks Journal trilogy. 

I had the honor of meeting L’Engle when she gave a lecture here in town several years ago.  She was dramatic, and funny, and beautiful, and informative.  When the lecture was over, my sister, who came with me, turned to me, sighed, and said, "I wish I was a writer."

I met her in person at the reception afterwards and she graciously told me that Charlotte was one of her favorite names, and the name of one of her grand children.  She was as wonderful in person as you would imagine she was from reading her books.

If you haven’t read them, go now and do so.    Pay no attention to the fact that many of them are supposedly Young Adult or children’s books.  You’ll love them anyway.  Start with A Wrinkle in Time.

I envy you, getting to read it for the first time.

You can read the Yahoo obituary here.

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