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Friday, December 28, 2007

Madeleine L'Engle's The Other Side of the Sun

The late Madeleine L'Engle was the author of more than one kind of book. I first met her as the author of Newbery winner A Wrinkle in Time. She has also written devotional books, and novels more realistic than Wrinkle.

The Other Side of the Sun (New York: Ballantine, 1971) is set in a fictional area near Charleston, South Carolina, early in the twentieth century. It is told through the eyes of Stella, an English girl who has just married into an aristocratic family from the area. I won't give away the plot, but it's about race, faith, love and hate, and makes a compelling read.

Here's a quotation, on angels, supposedly, but really about us:
"Do you suppose it ever occurs to an angel to worry because he is not an archangel? or to think that if he works a little harder or makes the right angelic friends he'll get elevated in the heavenly hierarchy? That's nonsense. My guardian angel is equal, as far as rank goes, to any archangel. It's we earthlings who've lost sight of the fact that it's a difference in kind, not in degree. And anyhow it doesn't matter, because my guardian angel is fully what he is, performing wholly the function for which God has created him. At the moment, this function is to watch over me. After I die, he might be assigned to sweeping stardust out of a corner of the sky. But because he is doing what he is created to do, radiantly, joyfully, no matter how difficult I make it for him, I can catch some of his joy. Without my angel's joy, where would I be?" p. 65.

And another one, on prayer:
But now for the first time I witnessed the prayer of utter desperation, of abandonment. Honoria was putting herself, and whatever it was that she had seen, entirely into God's hands. p. 259.

Thanks for reading!


Keetha said...

Thanks for posting about this book, I'm currently looking for a new author to read - - - I'll check this book out at the library and see what I think - - -

Martin LaBar said...

And thanks for your comment. L'Engle wrote several volumes of fantasy, aimed more or less at young teens (although they read well to me and other adults) and also wrote novels about life in the Charleston, SC, area in earlier times. I believe she had lived there some. Check the Wikipedia article on her for more information. (The L'Engle link in this post goes to a previous post of mine on her. That post has such a link.)

Thanks for your comment.

Keetha said...

I did read "Wrinkle" AND "The Lord of the Rings" back in the day when I was a teen or young adult, and enjoyed it then. However, now that I have a son and husband who LIVE on fantasy stuff, I find I don't enjoy it much any more. Her historical novels sound much more to my liking.

Oh, and I do realized I mixed two different authors in my fist sentence - - -

Martin LaBar said...

That's OK. I try to ignore usage errors, including some of my own. . .

Jorge A Garcia said...

I read the book and upon arriving to the "guardian angels" paragraph, I had to stop and take in all of its significance, as it spoke to me in a very personal way. The text is first presented in French, which by the way reads far more beautifully than its translation to Envlish.

Martin LaBar said...

Thanks, Jorge A Garcia.

Yes, I guess French (which I really don't read) is more beautiful than English.