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Certain Women: A Novel [Paperback]

By Madeleine L'Engle (Author)
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Item description for Certain Women: A Novel by Madeleine L'Engle...

L'Engle's first adult novel in 10 years is a deftly woven drama that brings together elements of the theater, biblical narrative, and unconventional family life. "The gentle, rhythmic quality of L'Engle's prose is perfectly attuned to this fictional aquatic cruise. A memorable work".--Kirkus Reviews.

Publishers Description
L'Engle's first adult novel in 10 years is a deftly woven drama that brings together elements of the theater, biblical narrative, and unconventional family life. The gentle, rhythmic quality of L'Engle's prose is perfectly attuned to this fictional aquatic cruise. A memorable work.--Kirkus Reviews.

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Item Specifications...

Studio: HarperOne
Pages   368
Est. Packaging Dimensions:   Length: 0.75" Width: 5.25" Height: 8"
Weight:   0.6 lbs.
Binding  Softcover
Release Date   Oct 22, 1993
Publisher   HarperOne
ISBN  0060652071  
ISBN13  9780060652074  
UPC  099455013000  

Availability  1 units.
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More About Madeleine L'Engle

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Madeleine L'Engle (1918-2007) was the Newbery Medal-winning author of more than 60 books, including the much-loved A Wrinkle in Time. Born in 1918, L'Engle grew up in New York City, Switzerland, South Carolina and Massachusetts. Her father was a reporter and her mother had studied to be a pianist, and their house was always full of musicians and theater people. L'Engle graduated cum laude from Smith College, then returned to New York to work in the theater. While touring with a play, she wrote her first book, The Small Rain, originally published in 1945. She met her future husband, Hugh Franklin, when they both appeared in The Cherry Orchard.

Upon becoming Mrs. Franklin, L'Engle gave up the stage in favor of the typewriter. In the years her three children were growing up, she wrote four more novels. Hugh Franklin temporarily retired from the theater, and the family moved to western Connecticut and for ten years ran a general store. Her book Meet the Austins, an American Library Association Notable Children's Book of 1960, was based on this experience.

Her science fantasy classic A Wrinkle in Time was awarded the 1963 Newbery Medal. Two companion novels, A Wind in the Door and A Swiftly Tilting Planet (a Newbery Honor book), complete what has come to be known as The Time Trilogy, a series that continues to grow in popularity with a new generation of readers. Her 1980 book A Ring of Endless Light won the Newbery Honor. L'Engle passed away in 2007 in Litchfield, Connecticut.

Madeleine L'Engle lived in New York City, in the state of New York. Madeleine L'Engle was born in 1918 and died in 2007.

Madeleine L'Engle has published or released items in the following series...
  1. Austin Family
  2. Crosswicks Journal
  3. Crosswicks Journal
  4. Madeleine L'Engle's Time Quintet
  5. Wheaton Literary
  6. Writers' Palette Book

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Product Categories

1Books > Subjects > Literature & Fiction > General > Contemporary
2Books > Subjects > Literature & Fiction > General
3Books > Subjects > Literature & Fiction > World Literature > United States
4Books > Subjects > Religion & Spirituality > Christianity > Fiction & Poetry

Christian Product Categories
Books > Christian Living > Practical Life > Women

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Reviews - What do customers think about Certain Women: A Novel?

The Worst book by the Greatest Writer  Mar 8, 2008
C. S. Lewis and Tolkien would have loved to argue over this book. I will start by saying that I believe L'Engle to be the greatest female author of the 20th century in any language. That said, this is her worst book. So why am I reviewing it? I put the lack of quality in the writing...or more accurately in the the immense pressure put on L'Engle by the Spiritual/Christian community. This is not unlike what writers such as Anne Rice and Annie Lamott are facing these days. Once people discover that you share some of their belief system, they want to claim the rest of your writing as their own. So where do Lewis and Tolkien come into this? Lewis felt that a spiritual writer should be open about their beliefs in composing fiction. Tolkien felt that all beliefs should be underpinnings and never completely emerge into the story or affect the plot. They should always be able to be traced, but never delineated. I suspect that this book by L'Engle was her homage to the people who had heard she believed in God and wanted her to "out" herself. If you read the entire oeuvre of her work, you'll see her beliefs everywhere
Exploring the Gift  Nov 19, 2007
Madeleine L'Engle was a remarkably gifted writer, having written novels for both adults and children that explored serious issues with intelligence and fearlessness. "Certain Women" is one of her novels for adults, and it is full of L'Engle's trademark ponderings on love and faith, and how our actions shape our existence. While it can be tedious at parts, it is overall a rich and fulfilling story.

Emma Wheaton is a successful and talented stage actress, who inherited her acting skills from her father, the great actor David Wheaton. In the last summer of his life, Emma has taken time off from her career to be with him as he tries to make ammends with his past offenses and pass peacefully from this life. For David Wheaton was a vastly complicated man, who married and divorced ofen, spawning a brood of children as varied as they are talented. One of David's main regrets is that he never got to perform as the biblical King David upon the stage in a play that was never finished by Emma's husband. As father and daughter spend their summer together, they reread and rehash the play and the past, the father finally coming to understanding and forgiveness, and Emma finally coming to terms with the direction her life must take.

At times, L'Engle seems to stretch too much to make the stories of the two Davids intersect, and sections of the novel that focus on the unfinished play can be a trifle tedious. However, when the similarities work between the two stories, they unfold and intertwine flawlessly and effortlessly. Although the novel is set between th 1930s and the 1960s, one of the beauties of L'Engle's prose is a sense of timelessness. The trials of the Wheaton clan are real and still exist in the world today. As always, the questions that are raised about love and faith apply to all time, especially the questions regarding warfare, whether it be biblical or WWII or the present day. "Certain Women" is a richly rewarding read and a true testament to the artistry that Madeleine L'Engle wove every time her pen touched paper.
"Certain Women" made me astonished  Aug 23, 2007
The author Madeleine L'Engle is probably most familiar to readers for her acclaimed Time Quartet of science fiction books for children, including the Newbery award-winning A Wrinkle in Time. However, if you haven't picked up a L'Engle novel since you had your braces removed, you're missing out. Her books for adults, including 1992's Certain Women, contain the same lyrical prose and incisive characterization, combined with mature spiritual sensitivity, and have the same ability to transport the reader into her imagined world.
In this case, that world isn't a far-off planet, but the insular sphere of a dying man and his wives, children and friends. While L'Engle delves into this extended family's rich, tragic and messy history, she also sheds new light on another complex man and his "messy" family, this one familiar to readers of the Old Testament.
The aging actor David Wheaton, spending his last days on his beloved boat the Portia with his ninth wife and Emma, his grown daughter, wishes to gather his far-flung family, including his five surviving children and a couple of his former wives, before he takes his final curtain call. While those on the Portia wait for the others' arrival, David and Emma discuss the one stage role he always coveted and never got to play: the Biblical King David. The parallels between the two Davids' lives and families are striking, and in some instances the Biblical story hits painfully close to home for Emma and her father.
As Anita Diamant did in The Red Tent, in Certain Women L'Engle imagines the lives and personalities of characters barely mentioned in Scriptural accounts. Through Emma and David's discussions, as well as in the pages of an unfinished play based on King David's story, the children and especially the wives of the king spring vividly to life.
The title is an allusion to Luke 24:22, "Certain women made us astonished," and the insights L'Engle provides both into the fictional Wheaton family and the David saga are at times astonishing indeed. What is perhaps more astonishing are L'Engle's observations on the nature of sin, redemption, and the way God often chooses faulty, flawed and complicated human beings to do His greatest work. As L'Engle's characters put it, King David saw himself as an ordinary man who had sinned, and that's when he truly began to love God. Perhaps, they suggest, we have to sin, to know ourselves human, before there is any possibility of greatness.
I recommend Certain Women for its compelling family drama as well as for its thought-provoking discussions of spirituality and the human condition, but don't be surprised if these faulty, flawed and astonishing characters--both Davids and their loved ones--linger in your mind for years afterward. They certainly have in mine.
not her best work...  Jun 24, 2004
if i had to choose my least favorite madeleine l'engle book, certain women would merit that title. neither the plot nor the characters connect with the reader the same way in which most of ms. l'engle's books have the power to do. nor does the book move the reader to any deeper questionings as her other books often do. if you're like me and want to read any madeleine l'engle you can get your hands on, this book, of course, will not be a waste of your time. however, i suggest that others become more familiar with some of ms l'engle's other and, in my opinion, better work before reading certain women.
A rich read  May 12, 2001
L'Engle's story will draw you into warm, rich but complicated family relationships, as Emma, the main character tells the stories in a lyrical way. Emma tells of her father, a well-known actor, David Wheaton, whose life is oftentimes compared to the other famous David ~~ King David of the Biblical times. David Wheaton has as many if not less wives and 11 children. Emma narrates the stories as the one child who has always remained close to her father. It is also a wonderful and encompassing story about love and forgiveness as David nears the end of his life.

Emma's husband struggles with writing a play for David Wheaton ~~ he would have played the great Hebrew king ~~ and interspersed throughout the narration are the stories of David's wives. Despite what some critics have said about this book, it is a rich read. I don't mind reading about Biblical times ~~ in fact, I love it. I find it fascinating. And L'Engle does a wonderful job giving King David's wives a voice throughout the ages and in a way the reader can understand. And reading about David Wheaton's wives, Emma's grandparents who have provided her with a heritage of rich spiritual lives, and the acceptance of life and death at the end.

It is a book I highly recommend for daughters who enjoy a close relationship with their fathers ~~ as it does explore a man's regrets that he didn't live a better life for his children or make the time for them ~~ but Emma forgives him anyways because that is who he is.

If you have a few days to spare, pick this book up. Go off into a quiet place and read it. You will fall in love with the lyrical writing style if not with the characters. It is definitely one of my top 100 favorite books to read. It's well worth the time reading.


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