I hated to hear the news that Madeleine L’Engle passed away. Many of us have good memories of L’Engles books and somehow, without having ever met her, consider her and her characters as friends. I’ve even read that some medical students enrolled Polly O’Keefe in their class.What an accomplishment for a fictional character!
Ms. L’Engle published more than sixty books in her 88 years. She’s probably best known for “The Wrinkle in Time”. A lot of people don’t realize that this Newberry Medal winning book was originally rejected by 26 publishers.
L’Engle wrote about that time of rejections, about wondering if she should be writing at all in her Crosswick Journals. I love those journals. I love reading about her struggles with writing and raising a family, her explorations of faith, and her family relationships. Her busy life, full of family and friends, comes across through the pages.
I also loved the books about the O’Keefes and the Austins, especially Ring of Endless Light. Her characters are brave, intelligent, and not afraid to question. Most of her books ask big questions in entertaining ways. Her works ask about death, after life, questions of ethics, prayer, and the courage to be ourselves. Her books expose us to scientific theories, works of art, and great literature.
L’Engle also wrote poetry, prayer books, thoughts on faith. Ive learned a lot from “Madeleine L’Engle: Herself: Reflections on a Writing Life”. The book is a compilation of speeches, classes, journals, papers and sermons. She talks about truth, the need for myths, courage, narration, rejection, and where characters come from.
Thank you Madeleine L’Engle for the courage to keep writing, and for sparking our imaginations and our senses of wonder. Thank you for asking those big questions. You will be missed.