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Certain Women

Certain Women

4.0 4
by Madeleine L'Engle

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A deftly woven drama that brings together elements of the theater, biblical narrative and the goings-on in unconventional families.


A deftly woven drama that brings together elements of the theater, biblical narrative and the goings-on in unconventional families.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
``Marrying was a habit with me, a bad habit,'' David Wheaton declares from his deathbed in this disappointing novel by the Newbery Award-winning CK author of A Wrinkle in Time . As the 87-year-old actor's boat plies the waters of the Pacific Northwest, Wheaton looks back on his life with eight wives and 11 children. Also on board is his devoted daughter Emma, stunned by the imminence of her father's death and by the recent dissolution of her marriage to a playwright whose drama about King David and his wives provides the framework for L'Engle's relentless analogies between the Old Testament monarch and the modern-day actor. Recasting the biblical tale as a meditation on love and marriage, L'Engle piles on literary references: David met Emma's mother while making a film version of The Mill on the Floss , named their daughter after the heroine of Madame Bovary and calls his boat the Portia . But name-dropping does not a work of literature make. The epigraph from St. Luke--``Certain women made us astonished''--is not borne out by these two-dimensional characters, who don't astonish in the least as they speak and act by formula. The heavy-handed biblical subtext overwhelms rather than enhances the contemporary drama. ( Oct. )
Library Journal
In Certain Women , terminally ill David Wheaton, a prominent and much-married American actor, obsessively recalls an unfinished play about King David, a role he coveted. L'Engle explores Christian faith, love, and the nature of God by framing the delayed-maturation story of Emma, Wheaton's daughter, within three subplots: the Wheaton family saga, the story of King David, and the history of the play's development. The characterizations of both Davids are compelling, but the primary interest here is the community of women that surrounds each man. L'Engle describes complex truths very simply, pointing out, for instance, that ``Life hurts'' and that if there's ``no agony, there's no joy.'' Because she also details the emotional cost of discovering and accepting such concepts, many readers will find these observations memorable rather than simplistic. Appropriate for all but the smallest general collections. Previewed in Prepub Alert, LJ 6/15/92.-- Jane S. Bakerman, Indiana State Univ., Terre Haute

Product Details

HarperCollins Publishers
Publication date:
Edition description:
Product dimensions:
5.31(w) x 8.00(h) x 0.82(d)

Meet the Author

Madeline L'Engle, the popular author of many books for children and adults, has interspersed her writing and teaching career with raising three children, maintaining an apartment in New York and a farmhouse of charming confusion which is called "Crosswicks."

Brief Biography

Date of Birth:
January 12, 1918
Date of Death:
September 6, 2007
Place of Birth:
New York, NY
Place of Death:
Litchfield, CT
Smith College, 1941

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Certain Women 4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 4 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
tpweisrx More than 1 year ago
You may have read Madeleine L'Engle's stories from the children or young reader section of the library or book store but she also wrote some very good adult fiction. If you enjoyed the Noah allegory in "Many Waters" I believe you will also enjoy Certain Women. This is a story about the wives of David, the King and the actor. Sadly, Ms L'Engle is gone now. Our loss.
Guest More than 1 year ago
It was a very enjoyable book! I got very drawn into it and the characters were all very well portrayed, so we could feel with them and for them!
Guest More than 1 year ago
This book bored me beyond belief. The characters were lacking personality and the story line, which was meant to be deep, seemed trite and all to predictable. A disaster and a pity, from a talented and wonderfully imaginative author. Ho Hum.