A Wrinkle in Time
A Wind in the Door
A Swiftly Tilting Planet
Author: Madeleine L’Engle
Publisher: Farrar, Straus, Giroux
What’s Auntie Reading Now? pictures: Wrinkle – Wind – Swiftly – Waters
Publisher’s Blurb: Madeleine L’Engle’s classic middle-grade series, A Wrinkle In Time, follows the lives of Meg Murry, her youngest brother Charles Wallace Murry, their friend Calvin O’Keefe, and her twin brothers Sandy and Dennys Murry. Beginning with A Wrinkle In Time, each novel features the characters encountering other-worldly beings and evil forces they have to defeat in order to save the world. The characters travel through time and space and even into Charles Wallace’s body in this beloved series that blends science fiction and fantasy.
A Wrinkle in Time
For a teenage girl, a misfit herself living in the midst of a tumultuous dysfunctional family, A Wrinkle in Time was a gift. What I saw at the time was the love of the family for each other, that I was enough like Meg to make me feel a little less alone. Over the years, I remembered Meg, and her glasses, and the Mrs. W’s who swooped in and took her on a quest to find her father.
Now, in 2018, on my second reading I notice how I’ve changed. The book I remember hasn’t aged well but the portrayal of love, family, and a place for all misfits still resonates.
That longing to fit in never goes away. But I’m a long way from the girl who sat on the floor in her closet and read, longing to fit in anywhere. I no longer strive to fit in. I love and accept who I am and often revel in the weird quirks I have which make others look at me quizzically. It is not I who doesn’t fit in, it’s them.
Many Waters is a time travel fantasy story about the time just before the rains fall on Noah’s ark. The title is a reference to the biblical verse Song of Solomon 8:7, “Many waters cannot quench love.” It’s both a reference to God’s love for his people, and the love of the Murry twins and one of the characters have for each other.
Sandy and Dennys are described in A Wrinkle in Time as “ordinary.” And they are, especially compared to the rest of the Murry family. Extraordinary things happen to the twins in Many Waters, but their reactions are strangely ordinary.
While illicitly playing on their father’s computer, the boys wish to be in a place that’s warmer and less humid than their New England winter. Zip, zap, zere, their wish is granted, and they appear in the desert in what is now Eastern Turkey.
Always logical and practical, despite the adventures of Meg and Charles Wallace, they try to reason their way out of their predicament. Surrounded by short humans (a point L’Engle makes repeatedly) who are characters from the Bible, seraphim and nephilim and, magical unicorns, Sandy and Dennys behave as though none of this extraordinary.
No matter, I was able to provide the sense of wonder for them. Many Waters isn’t a strong story, nor does it add to the quartet, but I found it fascinating. The bible only says God told Noah to build an ark, and that while following this directive, Noah was ridiculed by his neighbors.
What L’Engle does here is flesh the story out and explores one possibility of the events which led to the Flood. I could buy into all of it, except the unicorns. Really?
Magical unicorns who transport people across the desert and through time? In the Bible? One would think that a suspension of disbelief which includes time travel, angels and God talking to humans, unicorns would be just another magical element to accept. I couldn’t. The unicorns felt like a forced explanation of how Sandy and Dennys got from their cozy home to the desert in another time and place. And the emphasis on the boys being virgins … just, no.
There’s a theory in Literature Criticism I’m just learning about called Reader-Response, which basically posits that a reader brings all their experiences with them to the book, and those experiences are how the text gets interpreted.
This definitely applied to my reading of Many Waters, because all my reading of ancient religions played a part in my interpretation of the book. I was able to overlook the many faults of the story and find wonder in this imagining of Noah’s world. It probably would have worked better if L’Engle had just left the twins at home.