Book Discussion: A Wrinkle in Time ~CAUTION~ Contains Spoilers
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I glommed on to the library's copy so I could start reading over my lunch hour the other day (not sure where my copy is - possibly boxed at my folks' house...). Anyway, this was one of my favorite books as a kid, and I'm looking forward to re-reading it as an adult. I'm just hoping it's as good as memory says it should be.
So far I've made it all the way to page 17 (lunch was a bit shortened), but I'm looking forward to enjoying a few more chapters with my sandwich today. Had to grin at the opening line, "It was a dark and stormy night." How many different directions have books gone from that classic, do you think?
Oh, let me just apologize in advance to anyone who's childhood memories are destroyed by rereading this as an adult.
@ calmairy - Actually, so far (I've reached the "IT" chapter) it's resonating well with what I remember and I for one am thrilled to have an excuse to read it again regardless.
Now about the discussion....
~ looks around expectantly for others to chime in~
I also have not read that since my early teens butit was definately a fun read!
It will be a bit before I can discuss. I'm reading the other book first, because it's a library book, but then I'll reread this and try to discuss. I read this about 15 years ago and enjoyed it very much, but it's a jumble with the other books in my brain, so I don't dare to try to start an intelligent conversation about it.
Why not start with characters? I always loved meg because she is such a real girl with her intelligence and her insecurity and her awkward stage looks. I am almost glad that this has never been made into a movie as you just know a movie would spoil Meg as a character by casting some young hottie.
What about Charles Wallace? Is he too good to be true? Too smart, too insightful for a five year old, even a five year old that is a genius? Does he border on the arrogant and did this arrogance show to Mrs. Who and Mrs. Which? Is this what made him so vulnerable to It? And does love conquer all? I know we all want to believe it and it is a good message to send in a children's book, but is it true? I know I hope it is, but I am old enough to wonder.
I love the ladies who tesser them around - they are bright and crisp even after thirty years. And Aunt Thing and the Medium - very crisp and wonderful secondary character delineation.
Here's what I said in a review a while back...
Ms. L'Engle's great contribution here is the sympathy she generates for her collection of misfits. Somehow we have no trouble believing in the odd qualities of the Murray children, and we come to see their sometimes troublesome uniqueness as a positive thing. It helps that none of them avoid being annoying on occasion. Her book speaks volumes to the many children and teens who see themselves as hopeless outsiders.
What we see of the personalities of the three "Mrs" characters is also very well done. From the fun-loving Mrs. Whatsit to the awesome Mrs. Which, they have individual quirks and traits, quite an accomplishment in introducing such beings.
All in all, an excellent introduction to L'Engle's fantasy universe and its consistent lesson of the redeeming power of love.
Jim 53 - Its true that we have no trouble buying the odd qualities of the Murray children while reading and I never questioned them until I sat down to join the discussion. Meg is realistic, but Charles Wallace is far to mature for a five year old. I have no trouble buying his level of intelligence, but intelligence is not wisdom or experience and CW's insight into all of the people around him in the beginning of the book might be a bridge too far in terms of belief.
I recently bought a copy of Dragons in the Waters at a thrift shop, the only book featuring Charles Wallace that I haven't read. I do find it interesting that l'Engle, who has two series of inter-linked novels and characters and several stand-alone novels that feature characters from the two series, pretty much dropped Charles Wallace after only a few books. I think she may have had some of the problems that I am having. After all, can you imagine Charles Wallace as an adult? How could he possibly grow or mature? He is already the wisest of characters. I think there may be a connection between his Mary Sueness and the fact that he was dropped as a character.
I definitely agree about CW's wisdom, as opposed to knowledge, being an issue. I think I tended to see him as an expert mimic, very good at imitating others in order to be accepted, unlike Meg. I assumed that some of the instances of his seeming wise were actually him attempting to deliver responses that he thought would get him the most approval or acceptance. That's probably too subtle a reading, though; it does seem more likely that she simply didn't distinguish well enough between brilliance and maturity. Excellent point.
He is closer to an adult in A Swiftly Tilting Planet. And the other regular characters are adults. (This is my favorite of the series)
I don't think Charles Wallace is supposed to be a realistic child. I always had the impression that Charles Wallace was not only a child prodigy, but also "otherworldly" in some way. That he spoke the language of the stars, understood the Universal Music. His maturity and wisdom then makes sense.
To me Charles Wallace is on the Autism Spectrum (actually meg as well but just barely). not talking, really good at ideas but not with people, believing unusual things. Of course, the book was written before the term Autism Spectrum came into being. I always related to charles wallace though I thought of him as a 10 year old rather than 5.
There actually has been a movie for Wrinkle in Time, but it was a TV release rather than theater. Meg was played by Katie Stuart, who has done a good amount of TV and whose most accessible movie credit seems to be her few seconds on screen in the second X-Men movie as Kitty Pryde (she quickly ran through a wall, if I recall correctly). It seems her longest stint was at Sarah in The Crow TV series, which a few people may remember.
I remember her doing a pretty good job and enjoying the movie, though it was updated and edited for a more modern audience.
I ended up rereading A Wrinkle in Time after watching the movie and very much enjoyed it. It brought back a lot of memories and I thought it held up well. I've even started trying to remembering what other novels I read as a youngster influenced my tastes along with Wrinkle.
I also agree with MerryMary about Charles Wallace. He was never normal for me and was someone whom the word "extraordinary" readily fit. Thinking about it now, I'll probably have to go back and reread the rest of the series just for kicks.
I read it on Saturday and I enjoyed it. I tend to agree CW seemed to become more and more Mary Sueish until he made his mistake. Though I remember really liking him when I read the book back in 6th grade.
The big thing that struck me after reading it this time, was the ending didn't feel like a conclusion. They saved 'Father' who then saved them except for CW, then Meg saved CW (in the act learning to take responsibility) and in the end the dark planet as far as we know is left exactly as it was, except that IT was now PO'd.
In a lot of ways, Meg feels more ordinary kid than the twins do - perhaps because we see them less and her more?
I'd definitely agree with readafew - I didn't remember the ending being a cliffhanger with nothing really resolved. Although we see the family reunited, nothing else is really resolved, is it? Now, having finished it, I have this urge to go grab the next one and continue on.
Was anyone else reminded of The Lion, The witch and The Wardrobe or The Golden Compass while reading?
I was relieved to discover the book didn't disappoint with time. I enjoyed it just as much reading it this time as I did the first time I read it. And I know I've read it a few times in-between.
I agree readafew and fssunnysd, I now want to read the rest, because I feel the story is quite unresolved and I want to know what happens to IT and the Dark.
Yup, fssunnysd, actually while I was reading it this time I was comparing it to The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe (which I love), very favourably, thinking that while Wrinkle does have the Christian message, it's far less preachy than Lion. Or at least I found it so.
And another thing that occured to me with this reading. I believe this is one of those formative books of my childhood that combined religion and science so matter-of-factly that it was just an obvious state of the way things were (for me). It fit in with the way I was brought up, my church and my own way of thinking very neatly. It was a shock to me when I found out later in my childhood, that other people thought differently ;-)
And I've always loved Meg, I identified with her so strongly, albeit she was good at math and I was better at English and crumpled at math, lol.
I loved this book from the very beginning. I loved the intelligence and quirkiness of the characters and the way the family members cared for each other. I didn't think the Charles Wallace character was that unbelievable because I saw him more along the lines of the 3 "guardian angels" than as an actual child. And this leads me to why I ended up absolutely hating this book. I don't mind if there's some subtle religious symbolism, something that you could discuss from various sides; but L'Engle just shoves christianity down the reader's throat. Yuck. I hate reading christian propaganda as much as I hate reading about zombies. So, alas both choices for group read this month left me very disappointed. The whole evangelical thing came as a complete surprise to me because I thought I had listened to this as an audio book in the last year or so. Now I'm sure I didn't. I would never have forgotten this amount of preaching.
I haven't read A Wrinkle in Time for a lot of years, but I have it listed as one of my top 10 favorites of all time. And I don't remember ANY of the evangelical christianity stuff. Are we sure that that's how Ms. L'engle intended it?
Now will have to go back to reread...
Oh yes, kcs_hiker, it looked very intentional to me. She goes from writing a good book about time travel to a discussion of predestination vs free will, using the sonnet form as a metaphor. It's a good discussion if you like that sort of thing. I just wasn't up for it in a ya novel.
This was the third time I've read this book. I don't think it has diminished over the years, rather, as I have grown, so has the meaning and underlying sentiment of this book grown. I love the themes of family, love and independent thinking in it. Of course there is a coming of age aspect, but it was more than that, it was also a theme of accountability and the knowing that though we may derive strength and courage from others, still, what we do is our own choice. I found many more references to Shakespeare in it this time, simply because I've read much more Shakespeare recently. I like a book which grows with you and has more levels to discover on additional readings.
As to the Evangelical Christianity, most Evangelicals I know would strongly disagree. The battle is an equal pitting of two powers (the Dark and the Light), which is more along the lines of Eastern Mysticism, or Star Wars, if you will. Yes, it is couched in some Biblical quotes, but they seem more like an example of Literature which represents the ideas of love, sacrifice and the truth that the very small and weak can still be a powerful force for good. I find these themes in most fantasy literature I read. They are favorite themes of mankind. L'Engle also uses Shakespeare freely, along with other major works as an example of the "light" which battles the "darkness." It's possible the reader finds the things they are looking for though, because there are certainly many levels to read this book on. One of the reasons it appeals to me.
Charles Wallace didn't bother me, because even his mother said he was something, "other" or further along than most people. He was still endearing. I don't think the message was necessarily that love conquered all, so much as that love was what could reach Charles and was something that IT could not offer.
I really liked the tentacly Aunt Beast. The thought of all that comfort and warmth without sight appeals to me. We depend on sight so much of the time and feel very vulnerable without it.
I'm quoting from page 179 of my little Dell edition"
"If we knew ahead of time what was going to happen we'd be--we'd be like the people on Camazotz, with no lives of our own, with everything all planned and done for us. How can I explain it to you? Oh, I know. In your language you have a form of poetry called the sonnet.'
...'It is a very strict form of poetry, is it not?'
'But within this strict form the poet has complete freedom to say whatever he wants, doesn't he?'
'You mean you're comparing our lives to a sonnet? A strict form, but freedom within it?'
'Yes.' Mrs. Whatsit said. 'You're given the form, but you have to write the sonnet yourself. What you say is completely up to you.'"
This is the same reasoning my mormon sister uses to explain free will and why god doesn't prevent things like the holocaust. I found it very preachy and off putting.
hmmm... well considering that at 12 or 14 years old (when I first read the book), I didn't even know what a Mormon was; and much later when I reread the book, I still really wasn't that familiar with the Mormon arguments about free-will etc. I can see why I didn't make those connections. I'm with Mrs.Lee on this... I think we see what we want to see.
I know I read this as a kid, maybe in junior high, but I didn't remember any of it at all. I know I didn't like it much as a kid and I didn't go on to read the other books. This time, I thought it was okay. I'll go on to read the others. But I don't think the Christian leanings are overt. I think the reflections on love and good and evil in the book you could find in most stories and various religious teachings, just as MrsLee writes above. It's a popular theme.
I think because it was written for a younger audience it didn't grab me as it could have. It was rather 'lite' and I would have enjoyed something 'meatier'.
ETA: I like how stars are sentient beings, but on such a grand scale that we find it hard to understand. The galaxies are to us as we are to our mitochondria. L'Engle elaborates on this in A Wind in the Door, which I just finished. There is so much out there we don't know or understand, but it doesn't mean it doesn't exist, whether from a scientific of theological point of view.
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