My tour of the 70's continues with Madeleine l'Engle's work, but to get there, we have to go back into the 1962 with A Wrinkle in Time. This is one of those series that I never quite got around to reading way back when, so here at 48 years old, I'm reading Madeleine's work for the first time. This is no childhood book for me.
A Wrinkle In Time is a Christian allegory involving Meg, her father, three seeming witches, and a few other people. By Christian, I don't mean the modern usage of the word where Christian = Evangelical. Instead, this is the Christianity of mainstream Protestantism and Catholicism. This is a realm where the theological matters more than the salvational.
The writing in this book is absolutely charming, and if you are at all interested in writing for older children, this is a wonderful book to study. The sentences are clear. The paragraphs and comfortable. The characters are well formed. The story is neither padded nor sparse. At 50k, it's a short book by modern standards, but quite comfortably within the range of historical children's books. With an economical use of words and no random deaths, Madeleine builds a world both horrifying and evil, one that leaves you colder and lonelier, and a villain that makes Voldemort look like a playground bully.
The plot itself is linear, having a few twists and turns, little of which is unexpected. There is some tension, but not from the usual places. The story carries its share of tropes, but as its a children's story, these tropes all seem perfectly in place, able to support the story that they form. Yet by the end, all of this seeming simplicity doesn't seem so simple, for fear and intimidation, presented so simply, feel sharper and more threatening.
As I alluded to earlier, this is not a book born of violence. There's a few punches and tackles in there, but no violence leads to any sort of solution to this story. This is a Christian allegory, with no problems being solved through violence. Violence does not lay close to the heart.
Overall, the book tickled me pink. I enjoyed it immensely, and I look forward to more of this series.