Books, The Classics Club

Book 426: Many Waters (Time Quintet #4) – Madeleine L’Engle

L'Engle, Madeleine - Many Waters (Time Quintet #4)L’Engle went right past allegory and straight up tells a biblical tale, the tale of Noah and the ark, in this book.  Duh, I mean look at the cover, why I didn’t make that connection when I started re-reading or remember it is beyond me. Strangely enough, I didn’t mind the story at all. I think it’s because “god”/”El” took a back seat and it focused more on the people in the story rather than the morals of the story.

I also need to say I have to eat my words for the abrupt ending this time. L’Engle did it again with less than five pages left she completely wrapped everything up, but this time it made sense. A lot of the story began wrapping up well before the last few pages, but the ultimate story and the return to modern-day happened over three pages max. The abruptness of it was necessary in that is how the twins experienced it and it’s only fair we the reader do so as well. Kudos to you L’Engle for keeping me on my toes.

This is the 49th book in my Classics Club journey. I hope I make it to 50 this year, but it won’t be in the next few months. An Acceptable Time didn’t make it on my list because I had no idea it existed!  I have decided I will read the O’Keefe Family Series before I read the final book that ties both series up, but that will be a while as I have a few galleys I want to read and just got my copy of Grossman’s The Magician King from the library!

L’Engle takes two minor characters, twins Sandy and Dennys, from the other three novels and turns them into the focal point. They’re the “normal” middle children between the exceptional Charles Wallace and Meg. A lot of this book is about Sandy and Dennys finding themselves and discovering their own worth in the world. I wanted L’Engle to go more into the idea that Sandy and Dennys would become teachers, similar to the one Meg and Calvin worked with in A Wind in the Door.

I really enjoyed L’Engle’s merging of fact and fiction. She takes common knowledge things, like humans being significantly shorter in the past than they are today, and turns it into a sometimes funny, sometimes dangerous story feature. So much of the book is about Sandy and Dennys being perceived as giants and their ability to scare the natives, but also to be taken advantage of because they’re both foreign and young. And the confusion by the natives about them being two people is pretty funny, if subtle.

This was another addition to the good versus evil canon that so many authors write within and it had a lot of the same themes as Harry Potter in that L’Engle focused on love, friendship and family versus greed, power and exploitation. The love story between the twins and Yalith was incredibly compelling and beautifully sad in its “ending.” I really liked this thought

“Many waters cannot quench love, neither can the floods drown it.” (242)

But that also added to what really bothered me which I talk about below. For a great recap check out this one by Sarah S. at Girls Like Giants.

The only thing that really bothered me about this book is that L’Engle wrote it after she wrote A Swiftly Tilting Planet and the twins in that book don’t appear to have been too changed by what happened in this book. I don’t know if that’s a result of them being written out-of-order or a result of their practicality. L’Engle has them saying throughout this book that they don’t believe in a lot of the things Charles Wallace and Meg believe in and they even get around needing to believe in unicorns by believing in “virtual unicorns.” It just left me with a feeling of how would the previous book, last chronologically, have felt if L’Engle wrote it with this experience still in the twins minds.

Recommendation: I enjoyed it and if you make it through the first three it’s definitely worth reading. I’d almost suggest reading it out-of-order and reading this before A Swiftly Tilting Planet. It would make a bit more sense and chronologically would fit better. L’Engle remained very careful of not hitting you over the head with religion even with the angels (seraphim) and fallen angels (nephilim) playing a major part of the story.

Opening Line: “A sudden snow shower put an end to hockey practice.”

Closing Line: “Now let’s make that cocoa.” (Whited out to avoid spoilers, highlight to read.)


12 thoughts on “Book 426: Many Waters (Time Quintet #4) – Madeleine L’Engle”

  1. I’m on the 49th book of my Classic Club list as well, but I only have 50 in my list, so I’m not sure what to do. I might expand it out another 15 for the next year or something. Or maybe find a ‘100 Must Read Books’ list to follow.

    Planning to read at least the second book of this series. It’s hilarious that she dropped the pretense with this and just straight up did Noah’s Ark.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I gave up on completing mine in any sort of timely manner. But I like your idea. I want to read some of the US national book award winners at some point.


  2. I loved this book, at least as much as the rest of the books in the series, and I definitely didn’t feel as though it felt too religious. It felt to me more like a retelling of a bible story, almost historical fiction or fantasy given the mystical elements, than like an actual bible story.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I read this book in the universe’s chronological order which means when I read Swiftly, I too wondered why the twins were completely marginalized again. I think each of the books is memorable and unique in its own way, but I find myself thinking about this one a lot even years later. It was off beat and done so well with the way it used biblical stories/myths. I adored the twins and the unusual yet intimate romance in this book. I actually think I like them as people more than Meg or CW. Knowing that the twins don’t feature in the other stories makes me want to read it less. Of all the books in this series, I look forward to rereading this one the most. Thanks for the review.

    Liked by 1 person

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