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And Both Were Young by Madeleine L'Engle

And Both Were Young (1949)

by Madeleine L'Engle

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5791517,082 (3.83)24
  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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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.
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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 |
I picked this audio book up at a library sale to listen to while I sew. Not a normal choice for me but an entertaining story that kept my attention for the 2 days I spent in my sewing room. I had no prior knowledge of Madeleine L'Engle and did not know what to expect but since I have been choosing books that were written at least 30 years ago I have been founding them an enjoyable experience. ( )
  theeccentriclady | Apr 4, 2015 |
And Both Were Young is the tale of Philippa, a rather unhappy girl whose mother died tragically in a car accident a year earlier and whose father is being perused (in Philippa's mind at least) by Mrs. Jackman, who would really like Philippa out of the way. The result is that Philippa is sent to a Swiss boarding school while her father travels to work on illustrations for a book (he's an artist). She immediately finds herself out of her depth and having no tolerance for the teasing of her schoolmates, self-ostracizes herself. Her only joy is her illegal friendship of Paul, a French boy who is living nearby with his father. But gradually, with a little luck and a few shoves from a favorite teacher, she comes into her own to find her place at school and in the process finds herself as well.

This is one of my favorite novels. For whatever reason, it always leaves me feeling warm and happy inside. Originally published in a rather bowdlerized version in 1949, it was rewritten and republished in a form closer to the original manuscript in 1983. The novel is set in the late 1940s, so there are lots of interesting references to life in postwar Europe. Highly recommended who loves a good story, boarding school fiction, or Madeleine L'Engle. ( )
2 vote inge87 | Oct 7, 2014 |
I enjoyed this story as an audiobook and quickly fell in love with both the character and the reader. According to the introduction to this book by Ms. L'Engle's granddaughter, this later published version more closely follows the original manuscript, which was thought when initially published, to deal with ideas too adult for the times. By today's measures, it is quite tame. It was a joy to read a coming of age story with strong characters, and a romance built on a real friendship rather than sort of conjured out of thin air as so many young adult stories seem to do lately.
Flip, our main character, isn't the most likeable girl when the story opens. She is rather lost; her mother recently died and her artist father has chosen to install her in a Swiss boarding school while he travels for his latest project. At first, Flip is sullen and withdrawn. She is an awkward girl who has difficulty in communicating with her peers and making friends. Despite these character flaws, the reader is drawn to her, perhaps feeling sorry for the motherless child. As the story unfolds we are treated to real character growth, a great set of supporting (and supportive) characters, and a lovely sense of contentment as Flip finds her place in the world. I would recommend this to readers of any age. ( )
  amielisa | Jul 16, 2013 |
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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
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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