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The Small Rain (1945)

by Madeleine L'Engle

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingMentions
6911625,481 (3.92)7
"An unusual and beautiful book," the first novel by the bestselling author of A Wrinkle in Time explores the life of a young artist (Los Angeles Times). At only ten years old, Katherine Forrester has already experienced her fair share of upheaval. It has been three years since she last saw her mother, a concert pianist whose career was cut short by a terrible accident. After a brief reunion, tragedy strikes once more, forcing Katherine from the familiarity of New York City to a foreign Swiss boarding school.   Far from home, she struggles with the challenges of growing up. Stifled by her daily routine and the pettiness of her classmates, Katherine's piano lessons with a gifted young teacher provide an anchor in the storm. After graduation, she follows in her mother's footsteps, pursuing a career as a pianist in Greenwich Village. There, she must learn to reconcile her blossoming relationship with her fiancé with the one consistent and dominant force in her life: music.   Inspired by the author's time living among artists, The Small Rain follows Katherine's journey from a distraught girl to an exuberant and talented woman with the breadth and poignancy that defines Madeleine L'Engle's signature style.   This ebook features an illustrated biography of Madeleine L'Engle including rare images from the author's estate.  … (more)
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Showing 1-5 of 16 (next | show all)
Katherine is a great character and she is meant to be with Michael even if it is painful to watch her grow up enough to get there. This book is great and shows none of the darkness that will haunt her adult life. ( )
  KateKat11 | Sep 24, 2021 |
Every decade or two, I can't remember why I don't own this book (it's by Madeleine L'Engle! I must love it!) and acquire another copy. Then I discover that I'm not too enamoured of the book (again). The heroine is a bit gormless. The dialogue is oddly written. Some authors are able to vary the pace of dialogue by writing, say, "Katherine demurred" instead of "'No. Maybe.'", but apparently, when writing her first book, not L'Engle. Almost without exception, the dialogue is back and forth speech, with no stage business, people don't move around, don't murmur or mumble or use adverbs, they just put it out there in inverted commas. Since they obligingly speak in turn, they seldom even need their identity indicated. I almost laughed when I saw a page with its entire right side empty while the dialogue marched down the left side of the page in two- or three-word snippets. On the other hand, the heroine is capable of maundering on for an entire page without drawing breath. I lost patience. ( )
  muumi | Jan 1, 2019 |
This is so different from her YA novels. It's not the normal style I read (historical fiction), I didn't thoroughly connect with the characters, and the plot wasn't anything special. But, it was captivating nonetheless. The drama and characters were strong enough to keep you pulled in without yanking too hard. It takes no time at all to fall back into the time period and story, no matter where you last left off.

Such a departure but a successful novel. ( )
  mmaestiho | Sep 20, 2018 |
pretty ok. honest prose kind of refreshing. little heavy-handed / theme-fixed / formulaic here and there, but would've enjoyed it, a relaxing cathartic whine, only ending feels very incongruous. maybe just an "it was the 40s then" thing, but spending all that time building things up and then going a different direction entirely. reads like a forced attempt at symmetric wrap-up that really leaves hanging-feels (and potentially feels of betrayal) for a modern reader
  shmibs | Aug 19, 2017 |
Katherine is a serious, deep-thinking child who is determined to be a pianist like her mother. As the book opens, she's ten years old, appearing in a play with her famous aunt, with whom she lives; she has not seen her mother in three years. The novel spans the next eight or nine years of Katherine's life, including bereavement, boarding school, and her first romantic affairs.

Madeline L'Engle states in the introduction that it's not autobiographical, but some of Katherine's situations are hers; she sees her as a close sister. It was her first novel, started when she was in college; unlike her best-known 'Wrinkle in Time' series, this is intended for adults, and very much set in the real world. Written in 1945, the book feels quite up-to-date in its emotional impact, despite being obviously dated in some respects.

I felt that it was a bit long-winded in places, with conversation that didn't entirely flow. Some of the characters seemed a little flat, too. But overall I found it very readable, and finished it in just a couple of days. I look forward to reading the sequel, 'A Severed Wasp' at some point. ( )
  SueinCyprus | Jan 26, 2016 |
Showing 1-5 of 16 (next | show all)
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To my father,
Charles Wordsworth Camp
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Katherine knew, before the first act was half over, that something was wrong with Manya.
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"An unusual and beautiful book," the first novel by the bestselling author of A Wrinkle in Time explores the life of a young artist (Los Angeles Times). At only ten years old, Katherine Forrester has already experienced her fair share of upheaval. It has been three years since she last saw her mother, a concert pianist whose career was cut short by a terrible accident. After a brief reunion, tragedy strikes once more, forcing Katherine from the familiarity of New York City to a foreign Swiss boarding school.   Far from home, she struggles with the challenges of growing up. Stifled by her daily routine and the pettiness of her classmates, Katherine's piano lessons with a gifted young teacher provide an anchor in the storm. After graduation, she follows in her mother's footsteps, pursuing a career as a pianist in Greenwich Village. There, she must learn to reconcile her blossoming relationship with her fiancé with the one consistent and dominant force in her life: music.   Inspired by the author's time living among artists, The Small Rain follows Katherine's journey from a distraught girl to an exuberant and talented woman with the breadth and poignancy that defines Madeleine L'Engle's signature style.   This ebook features an illustrated biography of Madeleine L'Engle including rare images from the author's estate.  

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