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And Both Were Young by Madeleine L'Engle
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And Both Were Young (1949)

by Madeleine L'Engle

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6181815,758 (3.87)26
  1. 00
    The Small Rain by Madeleine L'Engle (elenashek)
    elenashek: Both books are very similar in tone and plot. That is not to say if you've read the one, you've read the other. Rather, L'engle, as a character writer layers meaning on top of meaning with the stories of these two girls. L'engle writes with such feeling on adolescence and its accompanying loneliness and pain. Small triumphs are huge at that age and L'engle is a master at capturing those meaningful rites of passage.… (more)
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I've been doing a L'Engle read for the last year or so & decided to read this standalone in connection with a genre reading challenge - February is romance month. I previously read this book back when I was in junior high/early high school. It was originally published in 1949, which makes it one of her very early novels (it appears this was 3rd), and I probably read it around 1978.

It is quite dated, but that doesn't mean it isn't also enjoyable. It is set in a Swiss boarding school, which was one of the things that fascinated me when I read it as a public school student growing up in Boise, Idaho. A Swiss boarding school seemed like one of the most exotic, interesting things ever and I frankly envied Philippa for what I perceived as a wonderful opportunity.

This time around, I enjoyed the fact that Flip was obviously an introvert, and I was interested in how L'Engle approached her introversion. Being an introvert in a boarding school would be tough - it's not a place where solitude is easily accessed. Being an introvert myself, I felt for Flip and understood her hunger to spend time alone, and didn't like the way the various characters approached her need for quiet. No one really seemed to understand, much less respect, the fact that a young woman might need to spend time alone to recharge her batteries. This rings really true, even today. Flip didn't always handle herself well, but her peers also really didn't understand her, and they seemed to expect that she would change to suit their expectations, rather than suiting their expectations to her character, which was frustrating.

The romance is extremely chaste, with some mild kissing between Flip and Paul. I also grew up skiing, which might have been another reason that this book made such an impression on me as a young woman, since a ski meet represented a major plot point in the book.

There is apparently an updated edition of the book which restored some of L'Engle's original manuscript which had been cut by her publishers because it either referenced death or was "sexually suggestive." Set in Europe in 1946, many of the various characters are dealing with the aftermath of WWII and the Jewish genocide. More than one character has family that was murdered in the concentration camps. It is sort of astonishing to me that, given the time and the subject matter, it was considered appropriate to sanitize that topic. And, having read it, I can't actually imagine how the words "sexually suggestive" could've been applied to this book. All of the adult characters appear to be celibate, and Paul and Flip share a couple of kisses.

I don't think it has worn quite as well as some of L'Engle's other work, but I still enjoyed it. Philippa Hunter apparently makes a cameo appearance in one of the later works, [b:A Severed Wasp|2816|A Severed Wasp|Madeleine L'Engle|https://d.gr-assets.com/books/1438987884s/2816.jpg|2268193], published in 1983. ( )
1 vote moonlight_reads | Dec 11, 2016 |
The author's foreword explains that when the book was originally published the world was not as comfortable talking about death and sex with young people. This 1983 version restores the story to what she originally wrote; she has not made any changes to reflect her own growth as a writer and person. She concludes the foreword by noting that the main character becomes a successful artist: one of her portraits is important in another of Ms. L'Engle's books.
While the book deals with important topics, some very personal and some about global events (World War II), its happy ending feels too much like wish fulfillment. Especially the lovely quote by a teacher who not only admits that she misjudged the heroine but also tells her that she is happy that she was wrong. ( )
  raizel | Nov 27, 2016 |
Narrated by Ann Marie Lee. As the new girl at a French boarding school, shy, awkward, unremarkable Filippa finds it difficult to fit in among the more seemingly poised and glamorous girls. She eventually finds comfort and selfl-confidence through her blossoming romance with Paul, a boy with a tragic past, and through the support of Madame Percy, a friendly art teacher at the school. Narrator Lee expresses Filippa's loneliness and shy manner, and her careful pacing suits this quiet story. ( )
  Salsabrarian | Feb 2, 2016 |
Just a wonderful story, set shortly after World War II.

Philippa Hunter, a timid, artistic teenager, must attend a Swiss boarding school while her father, a professional painter, travels Europe. Philippa ("Flip" to her family) knows this year is going to be horrible. She's never been able to make friends – she's awkward both socially and physically, more so than ever thanks to a kneecap shattered in the car accident that killed her mother the year before. She's always clung to her family, and now she's going to be on her own for the first time in her life.

Spoiler alert: The girl who's convinced she has no courage at all finds enough to perform a truly heroic act for the sake of someone she cares about. The unpopular girl becomes one of the best-liked kids in her class, not by getting a spiffy new haircut and attitude but by sharing her artistic gifts. The klutz finds a sport she can enjoy and excel in. The motherless girl who's never talked to a boy in her life finds friendship and more in a young man who teaches her that being able to remember a lost loved one is a precious gift.

The prose here isn't as luminous as that in L'Engle's Camilla, but there's also no horrifying sexism. The love story makes you want to cheer. And the dialogue is terrifically funny. Also, Flip's relationship with a particular teacher reminds me a great deal of some scenes in Jane Eyre.

If you like the sound of a good old-fashioned young adult novel that stands up perfectly to the test of time, read this book.
( )
1 vote Deborah_Markus | Aug 8, 2015 |
When Philippa's father leaves her at a Swiss boarding school, she feels a bit as if her life is over. Philippa, or Flip, as she likes to be called, is an introverted, artistic girl, fiercely devoted to her father and still mourning the fairly recent death of her mother. Boarding school, with its points and sports and complete lack of privacy, is a nightmare for her -- and since she spends her time feeling sulky and sorry for herself, she doesn't make friends among her fellow students, who take to calling her "Pill." Flip befriends the art teacher, a woman who is sympathetic to Flip but also not afraid to call her out on her self-pitying behavior. But apart from art classes, Flip's only recourse is to escape the school on free afternoons -- and it's during those free times that she meets Paul, a boy of her own age, who lives in a nearby chateau. Paul has seen his own share of tragedy, and the two teens bond over their similar experiences and dispositions. But Paul also has a mysterious past, one that even he doesn't fully understand. Will Flip and Paul's friendship help both teens to blossom?

This was a favorite of mine from my early teen years. I actually liked it better than a lot of Madeleine L'Engle's more well-known works, possibly because it's a simpler, more straightforward story, but more likely because I saw myself in Flip's introversion and social awkwardness. Now, encountering it as an adult, it remains a gentle, enjoyable read. Flip and Paul both undergo some painful, realistic character development, and the alpine setting is as lovely as I recall from those first times reading it. The romance angle is very slight, compared to what you see in more recent young adult literature, making this book perfect for young or conservative teens. ( )
1 vote foggidawn | Apr 28, 2015 |
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Epigraph
I saw two beings in the hues of youth
Standing upon a hill, a gentle hill...
And both were young - and one was beautiful.
--The Dream, Canto II
Lord Byron
Dedication
To Jo
First words
"Where are you going, Philippa?" Mrs. Jackman asked sharply as Flip turned away from the group of tourists standing about in the cold hall of the Chateau of Chillon
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0440902290, Paperback)

Flip doesn't think shell ever fit in at the Swiss boarding school.  Besides being homesick for her father and Connecticut, she isn't sophisticated like the other girls, and discussions about boys leave her tongue-tied.  Her happiest times are spent apart from the others, sketching or wandering in the mountains.



But the day she's out walking alone and meets a French boy, Paul, things change for Flip.  As their relationship grows, so does her self-confidence.  Despite her newfound happiness, there are times when Paul seems a stranger to her.  And since dating is forbidden except to seniors, their romance must remain a secret.  With so many new feelings and obstacles to overcome in her present, can Flip help Paul to confront his troubled past and find a future?

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:13:52 -0400)

(see all 5 descriptions)

Philippa is miserable at an all girls' boarding school in Switzerland until she forms a supportive friendship with the mysterious Paul.

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