I have been a Madeleine L’Engle fan for quite some time. I’m not sure how it started. I think many people get their first introduction to her writing through A Wrinkle in Time, but I honestly don’t remember if that was the first book of hers that I read. (According to today’s review that I wrote a year or so ago, it’s not, but I can’t be sure that I knew what I was talking about then.) I have read A Wrinkle in Time more than once, and I enjoy it, but it’s not my favorite.
I haven’t read any L’Engle books recently. (It’s getting to be about that time, though.) I wanted to share another previously-written review because I’m in the middle of something else, which may take me another couple of days, and I wanted to get a post up since it’s the beginning of the week. I decided that today’s review ought to be an enthusiastic one, to counteract the fact that my two most recent posts have not exactly been shining recommendations.
(In case you’re wondering, I’m currently reading The Gargoyle, which is intense and addictive. It’s another recommendation from my friend’s father who seems to be quite adept at recommending books. I think I’ll have a lot to say about it when I’m finished.)
Madeleine L’Engle’s Austin family series is billed as ‘young adult,’ but I would argue that they are at a more mature reading level than the Time series, at least emotionally, and are perfectly appropriate for adults to read. (It’s important for me to believe that, so I can maintain an image of myself as a serious reader.) Meet The Austins gave me a case of the intellectually-satisfied warm fuzzies, and it’s the first in the series, so I thought I’d share my review of it with you today:
This is a novel about a family whose members share their experiences with one another, and who accept each member with love, trusting each other enough to not feel the need to hide things. We could all learn a thing or two from them.
I’ve read other books in the Austin family series before this one; out of order, too. I love A Ring of Endless Light so much, my copy of it is literally falling apart. Recently I decided I really ought to start at the beginning.
I was very glad I did. I can’t get enough of these Austin folks. I would just love to step into one of the books and sit down at their dinner table for some discussion of philosophy, religion, art, music, science, and life in general.
Once in a while a book comes along that talks about life and God and the way things are, and it makes you think about your own views, challenging you, without making you feel threatened or as though you’re being preached at.
This is very much one of those books. The characters get up on soap boxes occasionally, sometimes finding out they are wrong, and sometimes teaching each other. They all grow and learn throughout the book, parents included, and you almost feel as though you are a part of the family along the way.
Vicky Austin is probably one of my favorite heroines, possibly because she is rather modest and unassuming as heroines go. There is no sugar-coating of adolescence on the author’s part – you read about the good moments as well as the moody behavior, and it’s all very real.
I wish I had found these books earlier in my life. This series would have been a great comfort to me during my own angst-ridden teenage years.
As it was, when I did discover A Ring of Endless Light, which was my first L’Engle experience, I clutched at it and held onto it for dear life. Reading about this family remains, years later, a soothing experience that I can always turn to when the seas get a bit rough.
…So thank you, Ms. L’Engle, for the Austin family novels.