Certain Women

( 4 )

Overview

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

Emma Wheaton has interrupted her successful stage career to attend her dying father, David Wheaton, a legendary actor who is obsessed with an unfinished play about the Old Testament King David written by Emma's estranged husband. As his immense family gathers, the stories of both Davids and their women...

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Overview

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

Emma Wheaton has interrupted her successful stage career to attend her dying father, David Wheaton, a legendary actor who is obsessed with an unfinished play about the Old Testament King David written by Emma's estranged husband. As his immense family gathers, the stories of both Davids and their women are simultaneously woven together and unraveled.

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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
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780060652074
  • Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
  • Publication date: 10/28/1993
  • Edition description: Reprint
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 368
  • Sales rank: 1,254,555
  • Product dimensions: 5.31 (w) x 8.00 (h) x 0.82 (d)

Meet the Author

Madeleine L'Engle

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."

Biography

Madeleine L'Engle Camp was born in New York City and educated in boarding schools in Switzerland and across the United States. A shy, withdrawn child with few friends, she retreated into writing at an early age. She attended Smith College, graduating summa cum laude in 1941. After college, she worked in the New York theatre, where she met her future husband, Hugh Franklin. (Later she would say that they "met in The Cherry Orchard and married during The Joyous Season.") Her first book, The Small Rain (1945), was completed while she was still working as an actress.

After the birth of their first child, Madeleine and her husband moved to rural Connecticut to run a small general store; but in 1959, they returned to New York City with their three children so Hugh Franklin could resume his acting career (For many years, he played Dr. Charles Tyler on the popular television soap opera All My Children.) Although Madeleine wrote steadily during this period, few of her books were published. Then, in 1960, she released her first children's story, Meet the Austins. An affectionate portrait of a close-knit family, the book was named an ALA Notable Children's Book of the year and spawned several bestselling sequels.

Completed in 1960, L'Engle's science fiction YA classic A Wrinkle in Time was rejected by more than two dozen publishers before Farrar, Straus and Giroux finally released it in 1962. Elegant, imaginative, and filled with complex moral themes, the acclaimed Newbery Medal winner tells the story of Meg Murry, a young girl who travels through time with her psychically gifted younger brother to rescue their scientist father from a planet controlled by an evil entity known as the Dark Thing. Throughout her career, L'Engle would return to the Murry family three more times, in A Wind in the Door (1973), A Swiftly Tilting Planet (1978), and Many Waters (1986). The Time Quartet, as these four books have come to be called, weaves together elements of theology and quantum physics often assumed to be far too esoteric for children to understand. Yet, it became a true classic of juvenalia. L'Engle explained once, "You have to write the book that wants to be written. And if the book will be too difficult for grown-ups, then you write it for children."

In addition to her YA novels, the prolific writer also penned adult fiction, poems, plays, memoirs, and religious meditations. She served as the longtime librarian and writer-in-residence for the Cathedral Church of St. John the Divine. Madeleine L'Engle passed away at a nursing home in Connecticut in 2007.

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    1. Date of Birth:
      1918112
    2. Place of Birth:
      New York, NY
    1. Date of Death:
      September 6, 2007
    2. Place of Death:
      Litchfield, CT
    1. Education:
      Smith College, 1941

Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4
( 4 )
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Sort by: Showing all of 4 Customer Reviews
  • Posted April 20, 2009

    I Also Recommend:

    Certain Women - Sadly missed Adieu Madeleine

    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.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 27, 2003

    Great Book!

    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!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 23, 2000

    Certain Women are not worth reading about!

    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.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 14, 2010

    No text was provided for this review.

Sort by: Showing all of 4 Customer Reviews

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