Books, The Classics Club

Book 423: A Wrinkle In Time (Time Quintet #1) – Madeleine L’Engle

L'Engle, Madeleine - A Wrinkle In Time (Time Quintet #1)Let’s add this to the “How have I only ever read this once over a decade ago pile.” (That list gets longer and longer every time I look.) I’ve had these books since high school and only ever read them once. I’m so glad I added them on my Classic’s Club, the 46th book read, and am REALLY looking forward to reading the rest.

I somehow missed the fifth book, An Acceptable Time, when I read them the first time so that one will be completely new to me which is very exciting! I’m now torn on whether I should hold on to my copies or donate them so someone else can have the great joy of experiencing L’Engle’s incredible genius.

Aside from L’Engle using the maligned “It was a dark and stormy night.” to open the novel (buck those trends!), I think what really impressed me re-reading this work was L’Engle’s language. I know many authors do this, but I appreciate that fantasy/science fiction writers who write to young adults in particular (like Rachel Hartman) don’t dumb down their language. Not only does L’Engle write about incredibly complex scientific principles, but she uses language that a family as smart as the Wallace’s would use! It was refreshing to read such high language written so easily.

The introduction of the story (the same across all the versions I have) struck a chord with me because L’Engle talks about how the reason she wrote the books and why she was able to write the books is that she never stopped questioning. As you grow up you tend to stop questioning the unexplained and you often reject the unexplained.

“‘No Meg. Don’t hope it was a dream. I don’t understand it any more than you do, but one thing I’ve learned is that you don’t have to understand things for them to be.” (20, author’s emphasis)

I’m just too damn curious to let things get away from me. Even if that means I lose sleep or lose track of time, I would rather know than not know. And it’s this curiosity that I feel really drives this novel. Charles Wallace, Meg and Calvin (O’Keefe) are at heart curious kids/teenagers that want to know. They don’t necessarily need to know or even need to understand, they just want to know and L’Engle giving the angels/witches the names of “Mrs. Whatsit,” “Mrs. Who” and “Mrs. Which” is very telling.

If there was one thing I didn’t like about the novel it was how quickly the action reached a crescendo and ended. It seemed like the entire story kept building and building and building up until the last 10-15 so much so that I convinced myself it would be a cliff hanger to the next book. But nope, everything was succinctly wrapped up in the last ten-or-so pages and tied with a bow. As satisfying as the ending was it was just a bit too rushed for me.

Recommendation: Read it and re-read it. It was such a quick read that I seriously could’ve turned around and re-read it and enjoyed it just as much a second time. The way L’Engle broke down some of those complex scientific principles was great and incredibly approachable for all ages! I’m excited to reread A Wind in the Door, A Swiftly Tilting Planet, and Many Waters, and to finally read An Acceptable Time.

Opening Line: “It was a dark and stormy night.”

Closing Line: “But they never learned what it was that Mrs. Whatsit, Mrs. Who, and Mrs. Which had to do, for there was a gust of wind, and they were gone.” (Whited out to avoid spoilers, highlight to read.)

Additional Quotes from A Wrinkle in Time
“You’re much to straightforward to be able to pretend to be what you aren’t…” (10)

“If it was impossible to describe sight to Aunt Beast, it would be even more impossible to describe the singing of Aunt Beast to a human being. It was a music even more glorious than the music of the singing creatures on Uriel. It was a music more tangible than form or sight. It had essence and structure. It supported Meg more firmly than the arms of Aunt Beast. It seemed to ravel with her, to sweep her aloft in the power of song, so that she was moving in glory among the stars, and for a moment she, too, felt that the words Darkness and light had no meaning, and only this melody was real.” (173)


19 thoughts on “Book 423: A Wrinkle In Time (Time Quintet #1) – Madeleine L’Engle”

    1. I’m hearing that a lot of people only ever read one or two of them (coworker did the same thing). I haven’t seen the graphic novel, I’m not sure how I would feel about it given this has such a huge emphasis on imagination, maybe I’ll see if I can find a library copy to flip through.

      Liked by 1 person

        1. Oh I definitely support that, especially after reading the Austen adaptations. In other news apparently Disney is doing another adaptation. I saw it on Goodreads today. Perfect timing right?

          Liked by 1 person

  1. When I read “It was a dark and stormy night” at the beginning of Wrinkle in Time as a kid, I said, “Oh, this is where that line comes from!” My parents gently informed me that it probably wasn’t original to Madeleine L’Engle.

    In retrospect, I assume that she was being a bit tongue-in-cheek.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. It’s really interesting. Almost like a half-way point between C.S. Lewis and Philip Pullman when it comes to religious allegory. I’m hoping she doesn’t get too heavy handed like Lewis and doesn’t become as (anti-religious) militant as Pullman’s works were. I can’t remember much of any of them so it should be interesting.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. I read this last year and never moved on to the next one. I’ll have to fix that soon! I felt the same way when I read it, that I loved that it didn’t feel dumbed down for kids, that it was there if they liked it and easily ignored if they didn’t.

    Liked by 1 person

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