Barbara L. Talcroft
A Wrinkle in Time: 50th Anniversary Commemorative Editionby Madeleine L'Engle
Fifty years ago, Madeleine L'Engle introduced the world to A Wrinkle in Time and the wonderful and unforgettable characters Meg and Charles Wallace Murry, and their friend Calvin O'Keefe. When the children learn that Mr. Murry has been captured by the Dark Thing, they time travel to Camazotz, where they must face the leader IT in the ultimate battle between/i>… See more details below
Fifty years ago, Madeleine L'Engle introduced the world to A Wrinkle in Time and the wonderful and unforgettable characters Meg and Charles Wallace Murry, and their friend Calvin O'Keefe. When the children learn that Mr. Murry has been captured by the Dark Thing, they time travel to Camazotz, where they must face the leader IT in the ultimate battle between good and evila journey that threatens their lives and our universe. A Newbery Award winner, A Wrinkle in Time is an iconic novel that continues to inspire millions of fans around the world. This special edition has been redesigned and includes an introduction by Katherine Paterson, an afterword by Madeleine L'Engle's granddaughter Charlotte Jones Voiklis that includes photographs and memorabilia, the author's Newbery Medal acceptance speech, and other bonus materials.
Barbara L. Talcroft
How does a work of fiction become beloved by generations of readers? Not merely admired but positively embraced like an intimate relative or friend?
Plainly, mere perfection of composition, while hardly a detriment, is not sufficient: many flawlessly written books do not excite this bond. A work that triggers primal emotions, is suspenseful and surprising, and juggles meaningful archetypes in an eternal pattern will stand a better chance at becoming cherished than one that only stimulates the intellect though, paradoxically, it's intellectual heft that gives a great story longevity in the imagination. The tale's characters, of whatever morality, must resonate in a lifelike manner and appeal to our sympathies. And of course, if a particular story vibrates with the zeitgeist, it gets taken up more instinctively, however much it risks falling out of favor when times change.
But above all, to become loved a book has to first offer love: Openeness, affection for the reader, a sense that its universe exists on a substrate of agape. Ray Bradbury perhaps the paradigmatic writer of this school identified the phenomenon in his essay "Zen & the Art of Writing," where he urges an outpouring of the heart upon the page to win over readers. The romance between book and person is no different than that between two people. "And in the end, the love you take is equal to the love you make," to quote a bunch of lads just starting out fifty years ago, when Madeleine L'Engle's A Wrinkle in Time first appeared. And if ever a book offered love and received love in return, Wrinkle qualifies.
Appearing in 1962 after a host of rejections nearly scuttled its publication, this Young Adult science fiction novel immediately began to captivate readers of all ages and critics as well, picking up a Newbery Award the very next year. Its popularity has never since waned, and the handsome new hardcover edition from its original publisher, Farrar Straus and Giroux, celebrates the occasion with class and verve, offering plenty of ancillary material. But that's only the wrapping around the original gift from author to readers, one whose sturdy and inspired and affectionate lineaments still shine forth.
For the few who don't know its story well or for those whose memory of it has dimmed A Wrinke in Time follows the otherworldly exploits of the tightly knit and quirky Murry family. Kate and Alex Murry, a pair of married scientists, are parents to a pair of well-adjusted twins and two quite different children: five-year-old prodigy Charles Wallace and Margaret, or Meg, a drama-derailed brainy adolescent whose slow-blooming talents will eventually manifest themselves when most in need. At book's outset, Mr. Murry has been absent from home for a full year, whereabouts unknown, putting the family dynamics under dark strain.
Quickly and almost simultaneously, some outsiders enter the picture: a likable neighbor boy named Calvin O'Keefe and three aliens dubbed Mrs. Whatsit, Mrs. Who, and Mrs. Which. The Murry kids and Calvin quickly find themselves swept up in a galactic-scale battle against an evil force known as IT, an entity who has already ensnared Mr. Murry and soon entrains Charles Wallace as well. Ultimately, IT is conquered by nothing more nor less than the sheer force of Meg's pure love, and once again baby- boomer readers the cohort that first clutched Wrinkle to its bosom might hear strains of the Beatles, this time harmonizing on "All You Need Is Love."
Its virtues, of course, far exceed the sketch of its main action. Perhaps most appealing to young readers is the tender and clear-eyed depiction of a real family dynamic, an ensemble of varying personalities who all love each other intensely but whose strong, genius egos sometimes raise conflicts. As the focal character, imperfect Meg is inhabited with great intimacy by the author, and her emotional roller coaster is both exciting and deeply familiar. But the love between the adult Murrys emerges fully as well, as does the touching nascent romance between Meg and Calvin, and the social isolation of Charles Wallace. By allowing us into the normally hidden labyrinths of any family's mutual existence, L'Engle ensures readerly solidarity.
In the line of archetypical storytelling, L'Engle is no slouch either. Her fairy- tale tropes abducted parent; arrival of the Gandalfian stranger(s) initiating a quest; far-voyaging; realms under a spell; well-met comrades; exotic vistas are superbly arrayed yet never programmatic. Everything feels organic. One underplayed aspect of the telling is L'Engle's real sense of humor: the meeting between Meg and Calvin owes more than a little to Grant and Hepburn in Bringing Up Baby. Satirical touches abound as well, and a line such as "IT sometimes calls ITself the Happiest Sadist" comes across as pure Lenny Bruce. But none of this undercuts the high stakes and suspense.
That L'Engle casts her tale as hard-edged science fiction rather than fantasy is another plus. SF has always been the underdog in YA novels of fantastika, appearing less often and selling in smaller numbers at least till the triumph of The Hunger Games. And yet there's a power to well-done SF that fantasy just can't match. Narnia is captivating but arbitrary and unlikely of attainment. Heinlein's Have Space Suit Will Travel is a map of a youngster's reachable or aspirational future.
I bring up Heinlein deliberately at this juncture to examine an issue that intrigues me: Madeleine L'Engle's possible familiarity with genre SF. I postulate that she was well acquainted with the major works in the field prior to her book. Her fluid use of genre tropes and conventions is just too powerful and assured. Had she not read anything prior, Wrinkle would have been the most miraculous ex nihilo reinvention of the wheel in literature. The Heinlein book had to be on her mind. In that 1958 novel, a young lad named Kip (with quirky Dad) is swept up in outer-space intrigue, adopted by a benevolent alien named the "Mother Thing" to fight an evil being dubbed "Wormface." The Heinlein model is too precisely followed with unique changes, true to be the product of chance.
Of course, one of L'Engle's key innovations lacking in Heinlein was the metaphysical angle, not precisely doctrinal Christianity but a kind of ecstatic theology of cosmic consciousness fully in tune with and foreshadowing the era of the High Sixties. In this mash-up of science and religion I see a deliberate echo of C. S. Lewis's great Ransom Trilogy, in which similar spiritual dimensions overlay conventional space travel.
Two other outstanding motifs recall another pair of genre writers. The whole Homo superior riff involving the Murry kids (L'Engle actually used the word mutant in the text before excising it) recalls Wilmar Shiras's Children of the Atom and a host of allied titles. And the monolithic establishment of "CENTRAL Central Intelligence" on Camazotz could be straight out of half a dozen A. E. van Vogt novels. Finally, L'Engle's allegorical layerings is the totalitarian IT regime an analogue of communism or even of suburban USA ticky-tacky conformity? are pure Galaxy magazine stylings.
But in any case, L'Engle marvelously altered and adapted a host of precedents and her own inventions and emotions to create a novel that tugged at the heartstrings, intrigued the imagination, and rode the wave of a generational sea change to a permanent place on the shelf. When at her moment of testing Meg is told, "We want nothing from you that you do without grace?or that you do without understanding," the young reader is given the honor of being treated as an adult with free agency and the capacity to plummet or soar.
Proud and self-sufficient, Wrinkle stood alone for eleven years before a direct sequel arrived. But L'Engle did make a lateral, second- generation excursion almost immediately. In 1965 came The Arm of the Starfish. Meg and Calvin were married, and parents to a new heroine, twelve-year-old Polly O'Keefe, one of seven siblings. (Polly would subsequently star in Dragons in the Waters from 1976 and A House like a Lotus from 1984.)
But it probably would have been impossible for any writer to resist creating further adventures for Charles Wallace and Meg. Eventually, by 1989, discounting the three Polly O'Keefe books, A Wrinkle in Time emerged as the foundation of a quintet. And while the four follow-ups are eminently readable, they lack the majesty and integral essentialness and lovability of the first. They're simply well done and fun and even illuminating, without being endearing.
Wrinkle ends with the line "[T]here was a gust of wind, and they were gone." So it's fitting that another wind brings adventure back into the life of Meg Murry and her posse. When A Wind in the Door opens, a year or so has passed for the characters. It's autumn again L'Engle's avowed favorite season and indeed all the volumes of the quintet take place either in that season or in winter. Charles Wallace has started school and is being bullied. Mr. Murry is gone on assignment (the missing-father motif without quite the same urgency), Meg and Calvin are trying to define their relationship, and suddenly a "dragon" manifests. The dragon turns out to be an alien (or an angel a distinction always carefully elided in L?Engle?s books) called ?a cherubim? and named Proginoskes, accompanied by a Teacher alien named Blajeny. They bring news of another quest for Meg, against the evil Echthroi and to save the life of a sickened Charles Wallace.
While the story is enthralling, it's a bit more diffuse, slow-paced, and nebulous than Wrinkle?s interstellar rescue mission. Having much of the action occur within a metaphysical structure known as "the postulatom Metron Ariston" is akin to staging a tale in virtual reality: one loses tangibility and physicality, and anything seems possible, perceptually anyhow. Moreover, with Charles Wallace out of commission, dying in bed, we lose his active presence. Likewise, Calvin seems underutilized to me. Lastly, a curious instance of retconning: Wrinkle firmly inhabited the New Frontier, Cold War reality of 1962, but all of a sudden in Wind, just "one year later," we're living in post–Richard Nixon Eco-doom 1973. It's a tad jarring, as when current Batman comics have him growing up in the 1980s rather than the 1930s of his first origins.
A cousin wind flows through A Swiftly Tilting Planet, but it's the wind of time. Some ten years have gone by for Meg. She's married to Calvin (lamentably offstage for the whole book) and pregnant with unborn Polly. Thanksgiving finds the whole clan reunited, along with Calvin's irascible mother. A geopolitical crisis is brewing (courtesy of the distantly plotting Echthroi), and Charles Wallace is tasked with solving it. His voyage of comprehending involves astral time travel via corporeal possession of past residents of their New England village, courtesy of a unicorn guide named Gaudior. Meg stays mentally bonded to her brother during the whole chrono-odyssey, thanks to the skill of "kything" she learned in the prior book. Charles Wallace's tinkering with the continuum resets the timeline, and all is well. L'Engle achieves a nice frisson by equating years of subjective time-travel with a single night in Meg's perceptions, but Meg's role as passive observer and support are disappointing, and Charles Wallace's adventures in historical time hardly rival the trip to Camazotz.
The fourth volume, Many Waters, is surely the most anomalous and least satisfying. First, it's an interstitial adventure, set at the period when Meg was still a college student. And it stars the twin brothers of the Murry family, Sandy and Dennys, figures I've failed to mention before due to their utter normality and prior employment as spear carriers. Not precisely banal, they now carry the entire weight of the novel, as we are bereft of Meg, Charles Wallace, and all the others. Tampering with Mr. Murry's equipment, the boys end up back in the biblical Middle East and discover a supernatural domain true to Scripture. Seraphim and nephilim exist, as do a host of other mystical creatures, and humans live for centuries like Methuselah. As physical castaways in time, the boys do not have Charles Wallace's astral protection, and they face rigors and challenges that do contribute to a new maturity on their part. As well, parallels are drawn between biblical legends and quantum physics. But the James Michener ambiance of this outing I'm thinking of The Source is not in the same league with the cosmic adventures of the previous books.
The quintet concludes with An Acceptable Time, an installment that also brings Polly's spinoff solo adventures to a close. Polly, now seventeen, is visiting her grandparents at the ancestral New England home. She discovers a time gate she is able to use by her inherent ability to "tesser," the same skill her grandfather developed in the first book. She and a family friend, Bishop Colubra, as well as a boy her own age, Zach, journey back 3,000 years to an era when the People of the Wind inhabited the land. A Goddess-worshipping society, hybridized with Druid visitors from across the Atlantic, they welcome Polly as a celestial being of power. But she almost ends up as a human sacrifice before all is resolved.
This final volume features a passage that addresses Meg Murry's offstage domesticity and apparent lack of a more glorious destiny, with Mrs. Murry and Polly having a talk about Meg. Mrs. Murry blames Meg's lack of self- confidence and lowered career expectations on herself, to some degree, but she ultimately affirms Meg's lot as a satisfying and worthy one. This alibi is not a patch on having Meg present as her feisty teenage self, but it's something. L'Engle reaffirms her vision of love as central (Dr. Louise Colubra: "Whatever we give, we have to give out of love. That, I believe, is the nature of God.") and the only real bad guy in the book, Zach, exhibits the fatal flaw of being unable to love anyone but himself.
Ultimately, A Wind in the Door comes closest to replicating the joys and vistas of Wrinkle: the subsequent three books in the series seem constricted and limited by comparison, taking place in smaller, Earthbound arenas and bereft of the same compelling family dynamics. Moreover, despite some scientific rationalizations, none achieve the amalgam of space opera and theurgy that saturates the chapters of Wrinkle. Madeleine L'Engle channeled a burst of agape-rich storytelling when she wrote Wrinkle, a work that has gloriously endured. Her follow-up tales are a saint's attempts to recapture and recount the epiphany that is no longer immanent.
Author of several acclaimed novels and story collections, including Fractal Paisleys, Little Doors, and Neutrino Drag, Paul Di Filippo was nominated for a Sturgeon Award, a Hugo Award, and a World Fantasy Award all in a single year. William Gibson has called his work "spooky, haunting, and hilarious." His reviews have appeared in The Washington Post, Science Fiction Weekly, Asimov's Magazine, andThe San Francisco Chronicle.
Reviewer: Paul Di Filippo
Read an Excerpt
A Wrinkle in Time: 50th Anniversary Edition
IT WAS A DARK AND STORMY NIGHT.
In her attic bedroom Margaret Murry, wrapped in an old patchwork quilt, sat on the foot of her bed and watched the trees tossing in the frenzied lashing of the wind. Behind the trees clouds scudded frantically across the sky. Every few moments the moon ripped through them, creating wraithlike shadows that raced along the ground.
The house shook.
Wrapped in her quilt, Meg shook.
She wasn't usually afraid of weather.It's not just the weather, she thought.It's the weather on top of everything else. On top of me. On top of Meg Murry doing everything wrong.
School. School was all wrong. She'd been dropped down to the lowest section in her grade. That morning one of her teachers had said crossly, "Really, Meg, I don't understand how a childwith parents as brilliant as yours are supposed to be can be such a poor student. If you don't manage to do a little better you'll have to stay back next year."
During lunch she'd roughhoused a little to try to make herself feel better, and one of the girls said scornfully, "After all, Meg, we aren't grade-school kids anymore. Why do you always act like such a baby?"
And on the way home from school, as she walked up the road with her arms full of books, one of the boys had said something about her "dumb baby brother." At this she'd thrown the books on the side of the road and tackled him with every ounce of strength she had, and arrived home with her blouse torn and a big bruise under one eye.
Sandy and Dennys, her ten-year-old twin brothers, who got home from school an hour earlier than she did, were disgusted. "Let us do the fighting when it's necessary," they told her.
A delinquent, that's what I am, she thought grimly. That's what they'll be saying next. Not Mother. But Them. Everybody Else. I wish Father
But it was still not possible to think about her father without the danger of tears. Only her mother could talk about him in a natural way, saying, "When your father gets back"
Gets back from where? And when? Surely her mother must know what people were saying, must be aware of the smugly vicious gossip. Surely it must hurt her as it did Meg. But if it did she gave no outward sign. Nothing ruffled the serenity of her expression.
Why can't I hide it, too? Meg thought. Why do I always have to show everything?
The window rattled madly in the wind, and she pulled the quilt close about her. Curled up on one of her pillows, a gray fluff of kitten yawned, showing its pink tongue, tucked its head under again, and went back to sleep.
Everybody was asleep. Everybody except Meg. Even Charles Wallace, the "dumb baby brother," who had an uncanny way of knowing when she was awake and unhappy, and who would come, so many nights, tiptoeing up the attic stairs to hereven Charles Wallace was asleep.
How could they sleep? All day on the radio there had been hurricane warnings. How could they leave her up in the attic in the rickety brass bed, knowing that the roof might be blown right off the house and she tossed out into the wild night sky to land who knows where?
Her shivering grew uncontrollable.
You asked to have the attic bedroom, she told herself savagely.Mother let you have it because you're the oldest. It's a privilege, not a punishment.
"Not during a hurricane, it isn't a privilege," she said aloud. She tossed the quilt down on the foot of the bed, and stood up. The kitten stretched luxuriously, and looked up at her with huge, innocent eyes.
"Go back to sleep," Meg said. "Just be glad you're a kitten and not a monster like me." She looked at herself in the wardrobe mirror and made a horrible face, baring a mouthful of teethcovered with braces. Automatically she pushed her glasses into position, ran her fingers through her mouse-brown hair, so that it stood wildly on end, and let out a sigh almost as noisy as the wind.
The wide wooden floorboards were cold against her feet. Wind blew in the crevices about the window frame, in spite of the protection the storm sash was supposed to offer. She could hear wind howling in the chimneys. From all the way downstairs she could hear Fortinbras, the big black dog, starting to bark. He must be frightened, too. What was he barking at? Fortinbras never barked without reason.
Suddenly she remembered that when she had gone to the post office to pick up the mail she'd heard about a tramp who was supposed to have stolen twelve sheets from Mrs. Buncombe, the constable's wife. They hadn't caught him, and maybe he was heading for the Murrys' house right now, isolated on a back road as it was; and this time maybe he'd be after more than sheets. Meg hadn't paid much attention to the talk about the tramp at the time, because the postmistress, with a sugary smile, had asked if she'd heard from her father lately.
She left her little room and made her way through the shadows of the main attic, bumping against the ping-pong table. Now I'll have a bruise on my hip on top of everything else, she thought.
Next she walked into her old dolls' house, Charles Wallace's rocking horse, the twins' electric trains. "Why must everything happen to me?" she demanded of a large teddy bear.
At the foot of the attic stairs she stood still and listened. Nota sound from Charles Wallace's room on the right. On the left, in her parents' room, not a rustle from her mother sleeping alone in the great double bed. She tiptoed down the hall and into the twins' room, pushing again at her glasses as though they could help her to see better in the dark. Dennys was snoring. Sandy murmured something about baseball and subsided. The twins didn't have any problems. They weren't great students, but they weren't bad ones, either. They were perfectly content with a succession of B's and an occasional A or C. They were strong and fast runners and good at games, and when cracks were made about anybody in the Murry family, they weren't made about Sandy and Dennys.
She left the twins' room and went on downstairs, avoiding the creaking seventh step. Fortinbras had stopped barking. It wasn't the tramp this time, then. Fort would go on barking if anybody was around.
But suppose the tramp does come? Suppose he has a knife? Nobody lives near enough to hear if we screamed and screamed and screamed. Nobody'd care, anyhow.
I'll make myself some cocoa, she decided.That'll cheer me up, and if the roof blows off, at least I won't go off with it.
In the kitchen a light was already on, and Charles Wallace was sitting at the table drinking milk and eating bread and jam. He looked very small and vulnerable sitting there alone in the big old-fashioned kitchen, a blond little boy in faded blue Dr. Dentons, his feet swinging a good six inches above the floor.
"Hi," he said cheerfully. "I've been waiting for you."
From under the table where he was lying at Charles Wallace'sfeet, hoping for a crumb or two, Fortinbras raised his slender dark head in greeting to Meg, and his tail thumped against the floor. Fortinbras had arrived on their doorstep, a half-grown puppy, scrawny and abandoned, one winter night. He was, Meg's father had decided, part Llewellyn setter and part greyhound, and he had a slender, dark beauty that was all his own.
"Why didn't you come up to the attic?" Meg asked her brother, speaking as though he were at least her own age. "I've been scared stiff."
"Too windy up in that attic of yours," the little boy said. "I knew you'd be down. I put some milk on the stove for you. It ought to be hot by now."
How did Charles Wallace always know about her? How could he always tell? He never knewor seemed to carewhat Dennys or Sandy were thinking. It was his mother's mind, and Meg's, that he probed with frightening accuracy.
Was it because people were a little afraid of him that they whispered about the Murrys' youngest child, who was rumored to be not quite bright? "I've heard that clever people often have subnormal children," Meg had once overheard. "The two boys seem to be nice, regular children, but that unattractive girl and the baby boy certainly aren't all there."
It was true that Charles Wallace seldom spoke when anybody was around, so that many people thought he'd never learned to talk. And it was true that he hadn't talked at all until he was almost four. Meg would turn white with fury when people looked at him and clucked, shaking their heads sadly.
"Don't worry about Charles Wallace, Meg," her father hadonce told her. Meg remembered it very clearly because it was shortly before he went away. "There's nothing the matter with his mind. He just does things in his own way and in his own time."
"I don't want him to grow up to be dumb like me," Meg had said.
"Oh, my darling, you're not dumb," her father answered. "You're like Charles Wallace. Your development has to go at its own pace. It just doesn't happen to be the usual pace."
"How do you know?" Meg had demanded. "How do you know I'm not dumb? Isn't it just because you love me?"
"I love you, but that's not what tells me. Mother and I've given you a number of tests, you know."
Yes, that was true. Meg had realized that some of the "games" her parents played with her were tests of some kind, and that there had been more for her and Charles Wallace than for the twins. "IQ tests, you mean?"
"Yes, some of them."
"Is my IQ okay?"
"More than okay."
"What is it?"
"That I'm not going to tell you. But it assures me that both you and Charles Wallace will be able to do pretty much whatever you like when you grow up yourselves. You just wait till Charles Wallace starts to talk. You'll see."
How right he had been about that, though he himself had left before Charles Wallace began to speak, suddenly, with none of the usual baby preliminaries, using entire sentences. How proud he would have been!
"You'd better check the milk," Charles Wallace said to Meg now, his diction clearer and cleaner than that of most five-year-olds. "You know you don't like it when it gets a skin on top."
"You put in more than twice enough milk." Meg peered into the saucepan.
Charles Wallace nodded serenely. "I thought Mother might like some."
"I might like what?" a voice said, and there was their mother standing in the doorway.
"Cocoa," Charles Wallace said. "Would you like a liverwurst-and-cream-cheese sandwich? I'll be happy to make you one."
"That would be lovely," Mrs. Murry said, "but I can make it myself if you're busy."
"No trouble at all." Charles Wallace slid down from his chair and trotted over to the refrigerator, his pajamaed feet padding softly as a kitten's. "How about you, Meg?" he asked. "Sandwich?"
"Yes, please," she said. "But not liverwurst. Do we have any tomatoes?"
Charles Wallace peered into the crisper. "One. All right if I use it on Meg, Mother?"
"To what better use could it be put?" Mrs. Murry smiled. "But not so loud, please, Charles. That is, unless you want the twins downstairs, too."
"Let's be exclusive," Charles Wallace said. "That's my new word for the day. Impressive, isn't it?"
"Prodigious," Mrs. Murry said. "Meg, come let me look at that bruise."
Meg knelt at her mother's feet. The warmth and light ofthe kitchen had relaxed her so that her attic fears were gone. The cocoa steamed fragrantly in the saucepan; geraniums bloomed on the windowsills and there was a bouquet of tiny yellow chrysanthemums in the center of the table. The curtains, red, with a blue-and-green geometrical pattern, were drawn, and seemed to reflect their cheerfulness throughout the room. The furnace purred like a great, sleepy animal; the lights glowed with steady radiance; outside, alone in the dark, the wind still battered against the house, but the angry power that had frightened Meg while she was alone in the attic was subdued by the familiar comfort of the kitchen. Underneath Mrs. Murry's chair Fortinbras let out a contented sigh.
Mrs. Murry gently touched Meg's bruised cheek. Meg looked up at her mother, half in loving admiration, half in sullen resentment. It was not an advantage to have a mother who was a scientist and a beauty as well. Mrs. Murry's flaming red hair, creamy skin, and violet eyes with long dark lashes, seemed even more spectacular in comparison with Meg's outrageous plainness. Meg's hair had been passable as long as she wore it tidily in braids. When she went into high school it was cut, and now she and her mother struggled with putting it up, but one side would come out curly and the other straight, so that she looked even plainer than before.
"You don't know the meaning of moderation, do you, my darling?" Mrs. Murry asked. "A happy medium is something I wonder if you'll ever learn. That's a nasty bruise the Henderson boy gave you. By the way, shortly after you'd gone to bed his mother called up to complain about how badly you'd hurt him.I told her that since he's a year older and at least twenty-five pounds heavier than you are, I thought I was the one who ought to be doing the complaining. But she seemed to think it was all your fault."
"I suppose that depends on how you look at it," Meg said. "Usually, no matter what happens, people think it's my fault, even if I have nothing to do with it at all. But I'm sorry I tried to fight him. It's just been an awful week. And I'm full of bad feeling."
Mrs. Murry stroked Meg's shaggy head. "Do you know why?"
"I hate being an oddball," Meg said. "It's hard on Sandy and Dennys, too. I don't know if they're really like everybody else, or if they're just able to pretend they are. I try to pretend, but it isn't any help."
"You're much too straightforward to be able to pretend to be what you aren't," Mrs. Murry said. "I'm sorry, Meglet. Maybe if Father were here he could help you, but I don't think I can do anything till you've managed to plow through some more time. Then things will be easier for you. But that isn't much help right now, is it?"
"Maybe if I weren't so repulsive-lookingmaybe if I were pretty like you"
"Mother's not a bit pretty; she's beautiful," Charles Wallace announced, slicing liverwurst. "Therefore I bet she was awful at your age."
"How right you are," Mrs. Murry said. "Just give yourself time, Meg."
"Lettuce on your sandwich, Mother?" Charles Wallace asked.
He cut the sandwich into sections, put it on a plate, and set it in front of his mother. "Yours'll be along in just a minute, Meg. I think I'll talk to Mrs Whatsit about you."
"Who's Mrs Whatsit?" Meg asked.
"I think I want to be exclusive about her for a while," Charles Wallace said. "Onion salt?"
"What's Mrs Whatsit stand for?" Mrs. Murry asked.
"That's her name," Charles Wallace answered. "You know the old shingled house back in the woods that the kids won't go near because they say it's haunted? That's where they live."
"Mrs Whatsit and her two friends. I was out with Fortinbras a couple of days agoyou and the twins were at school, Meg. We like to walk in the woods, and suddenly he took off after a squirrel and I took off after him and we ended up by the haunted house, so I met them by accident, as you might say."
"But nobody lives there," Meg said.
"Mrs Whatsit and her friends do. They're very enjoyable."
"Why didn't you tell me about it before?" Mrs. Murry asked. "And you know you're not supposed to go off our property without permission, Charles."
"I know," Charles said. "That's one reason I didn't tell you. I just rushed off after Fortinbras without thinking. And then I decided, well, I'd better save them for an emergency, anyhow."
A fresh gust of wind took the house and shook it, and suddenly the rain began to lash against the windows.
"I don't think I like this wind," Meg said nervously.
"We'll lose some shingles off the roof, that's certain," Mrs. Murry said. "But this house has stood for almost two hundred years and I think it will last a little longer, Meg. There's been many a high wind up on this hill."
"But this is a hurricane!" Meg wailed. "The radio kept saying it was a hurricane!"
"It's October," Mrs. Murry told her. "There've been storms in October before."
As Charles Wallace gave Meg her sandwich Fortinbras came out from under the table. He gave a long, low growl, and they could see the dark fur slowly rising on his back. Meg felt her own skin prickle.
"What's wrong?" she asked anxiously.
Fortinbras stared at the door that opened into Mrs. Murry's laboratory, which was in the old stone dairy right off the kitchen. Beyond the lab a pantry led outdoors, though Mrs. Murry had done her best to train the family to come into the house through the garage door or the front door and not through her lab. But it was the lab door and not the garage door toward which Fortinbras was growling.
"You didn't leave any nasty-smelling chemicals cooking over a Bunsen burner, did you, Mother?" Charles Wallace asked.
Mrs. Murry stood up. "No. But I think I'd better go see what's upsetting Fort, anyhow."
"It's the tramp, I'm sure it's the tramp," Meg said nervously.
"What tramp?" Charles Wallace asked.
"They were saying at the post office this afternoon that a tramp stole all Mrs. Buncombe's sheets."
"We'd better sit on the pillowcases, then," Mrs. Murry said lightly. "I don't think even a tramp would be out on a night like this, Meg."
"But that's probably why he is out," Meg wailed, "trying to find a place not to be out."
"In which case I'll offer him the barn till morning." Mrs. Murry went briskly to the door.
"I'll go with you." Meg's voice was shrill.
"No, Meg, you stay with Charles and eat your sandwich."
"Eat!" Meg exclaimed as Mrs. Murry went out through the lab. "How does she expect me to eat?"
"Mother can take care of herself," Charles said. "Physically, that is." But he sat in his father's chair at the table and his legs kicked at the rungs; and Charles Wallace, unlike most small children, had the ability to sit still.
After a few moments that seemed like forever to Meg, Mrs. Murry came back in, holding the door open forwas it the tramp? It seemed small for Meg's idea of a tramp. The age or sex was impossible to tell, for it was completely bundled up in clothes. Several scarves of assorted colors were tied about the head, and a man's felt hat perched atop. A shocking-pink stole was knotted about a rough overcoat, and black rubber boots covered the feet.
"Mrs Whatsit," Charles said suspiciously, "what are you doing here? And at this time of night, too?"
"Now, don't you be worried, my honey." A voice emerged fromamong turned-up coat collar, stole, scarves, and hat, a voice like an unoiled gate, but somehow not unpleasant.
"MrsuhWhatsitsays she lost her way," Mrs. Murry said. "Would you care for some hot chocolate, Mrs Whatsit?"
"Charmed, I'm sure," Mrs Whatsit answered, taking off the hat and the stole. "It isn't so much that I lost my way as that I got blown off course. And when I realized that I was at little Charles Wallace's house I thought I'd just come in and rest a bit before proceeding on my way."
"How did you know this was Charles Wallace's house?" Meg asked.
"By the smell." Mrs Whatsit untied a blue-and-green paisley scarf, a red-and-yellow flowered print, a gold Liberty print, a red-and-black bandanna. Under all this a sparse quantity of grayish hair was tied in a small but tidy knot on top of her head. Her eyes were bright, her nose a round, soft blob, her mouth puckered like an autumn apple. "My, but it's lovely and warm in here," she said.
"Do sit down." Mrs. Murry indicated a chair. "Would you like a sandwich, Mrs Whatsit? I've had liverwurst and cream cheese; Charles has had bread and jam; and Meg, lettuce and tomato."
"Now, let me see," Mrs Whatsit pondered. "I'm passionately fond of Russian caviar."
"You peeked!" Charles cried indignantly. "We're saving that for Mother's birthday and you can't have any!"
Mrs Whatsit gave a deep and pathetic sigh.
"No," Charles said. "Now, you mustn't give in to her, Mother, or I shall be very angry. How about tuna-fish salad?"
"All right," Mrs Whatsit said meekly.
"I'll fix it," Meg offered, going to the pantry for a can of tuna fish.
For crying out loud, she thought,this old woman comes barging in on us in the middle of the night and Mother takes it as though there weren't anything peculiar about it at all. I'll bet she is the tramp. I'll bet she did steal those sheets. And she's certainly no one Charles Wallace ought to be friends with, especially when he won't even talk to ordinary people.
"I've only been in the neighborhood a short time," Mrs Whatsit was saying as Meg switched off the pantry light and came back into the kitchen with the tuna fish, "and I didn't think I was going to like the neighbors at all until dear little Charles came over with his dog."
"Mrs Whatsit," Charles Wallace demanded severely, "why did you take Mrs. Buncombe's sheets?"
"Well, I needed them, Charles dear."
"You must return them at once."
"But Charles, dear, I can't. I've used them."
"It was very wrong of you," Charles Wallace scolded. "If you needed sheets that badly, you should have asked me."
Mrs Whatsit shook her head and clucked. "You can't spare any sheets. Mrs. Buncombe can."
Meg cut up some celery and mixed it in with the tuna. After a moment's hesitation she opened the refrigerator door and brought out ajar of little sweet pickles.Though why I'm doing it for her I don't know, she thought, as she cut them up.I don't trust her one bit.
"Tell your sister I'm all right," Mrs Whatsit said to Charles. "Tell her my intentions are good."
"The road to hell is paved with good intentions," Charles intoned.
"My, but isn't he cunning." Mrs Whatsit beamed at him fondly. "It's lucky he has someone to understand him."
"But I'm afraid he doesn't," Mrs. Murry said. "None of us is quite up to Charles."
"But at least you aren't trying to squash him down." Mrs Whatsit nodded her head vigorously. "You're letting him be himself."
"Here's your sandwich," Meg said, bringing it to Mrs Whatsit.
"Do you mind if I take off my boots before I eat?" Mrs Whatsit asked, picking up the sandwich nevertheless. "Listen." She moved her feet up and down in her boots, and they could hear water squelching. "My toes are ever so damp. The trouble is that these boots are a mite too tight for me, and I never can take them off by myself."
"I'll help you," Charles offered.
"Not you. You're not strong enough."
"I'll help." Mrs. Murry squatted at Mrs Whatsit's feet, yanking on one slick boot. When the boot came off, it came suddenly. Mrs. Murry sat down with a thump. Mrs Whatsit went tumbling backward with the chair onto the floor, sandwich held high in one old claw. Water poured out of the boot and ran over the floor and the big braided rug.
"Oh, dearie me," Mrs Whatsit said, lying on her back in theoverturned chair, her feet in the air, one in a red-and-white striped sock, the other still booted.
Mrs. Murry got to her feet. "Are you all right, Mrs Whatsit?"
"If you have some liniment I'll put it on my dignity," Mrs Whatsit said, still supine. "I think it's sprained. A little oil of cloves mixed well with garlic is rather good." And she took a large bite of sandwich.
"Do please get up," Charles said. "I don't like to see you lying there that way. You're carrying things too far."
"Have you ever tried to get to your feet with a sprained dignity?" But Mrs Whatsit scrambled up, righted the chair, and then sat back down on the floor, the booted foot stuck out in front of her, and took another bite. She moved with great agility for such an old woman. At least Meg was reasonably sure that she was an old woman, and a very old woman at that.
Mrs Whatsit, her mouth full, ordered Mrs. Murry, "Now pull while I'm already down."
Quite calmly, as though this old woman and her boots were nothing out of the ordinary, Mrs. Murry pulled until the second boot relinquished the foot. This foot was covered with a blue-and-gray Argyle sock, and Mrs Whatsit sat there, wriggling her toes, contentedly finishing her sandwich before scrambling to her feet. "Ah," she said, "that's ever so much better," and took both boots and shook them out over the sink. "My stomach is full and I'm warm inside and out and it's time I went home."
"Don't you think you'd better stay till morning?" Mrs. Murry asked.
"Oh, thank you, dearie, but there's so much to do I just can't waste time sitting around frivoling."
"It's much too wild a night to travel in."
"Wild nights are my glory," Mrs Whatsit said. "I just got caught in a downdraft and blown off course."
"Well, at least till your socks are dry"
"Wet socks don't bother me. I just didn't like the water squishing around in my boots. Now, don't worry about me, lamb." ("Lamb" was not a word one would ordinarily think of calling Mrs. Murry.) "I shall just sit down for a moment and pop on my boots and then I'll be on my way. Speaking of ways, pet, by the way, there is such a thing as a tesseract."
Mrs. Murry went very white and with one hand reached backward and clutched at a chair for support. Her voice trembled. "What did you say?"
Mrs Whatsit tugged at her second boot. "I said," she grunted, shoving her foot down in, "that there is"shove"such a thing"shove"as a tesseract." Her foot went down into the boot, and grabbing shawls, scarves, and hat, she hustled out the door. Mrs. Murry stayed very still, making no move to help the old woman. As the door opened, Fortinbras streaked in, panting, wet and shiny as a seal. He looked at Mrs. Murry and whined.
The door slammed.
"Mother, what's the matter!" Meg cried. "What did she say? What is it?"
"The tesseract" Mrs. Murry whispered. "What did she mean? How could she have known?"
A WRINKLE IN TIME. Text copyright © 1962 by Crosswicks, Ltd. Introduction copyright © 2012 by Katherine Paterson. Afterword copyright © 2012 by Charlotte Jones.
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this book is soo good. its such a heartwarming story and i just LOVE the ending. i can read this book over and over again for sure
I purchased this book for my granddaughter to read. She and I took turns reading the book to one another. We found it most delightful. We were able to vocalize the various parts and it was great fun. Great reading for all ages.
This classic tale of Meg and her brother Charles Wallace has been in my subconscious ever since I read it when I was a child. The themes of good versus evil, the hero being a young misfit girl who I could readily identify with, all gave me hope that I would one day be someone who could make a difference (although I didn't see how). This book is more than just a book - it is a message that "everything is going to be all right" without sugarcoating the evil that lurks outside and without hiding the fact that you, the next generation, is what has to fight it. A MUST READ for every YA reader. If it wasn't on my Nook, I'd sleep with it under my pillow.
I have read the entire series. It is so creative, well paced, adventurous, and absolutly AMAZING! Please buy it! You will be enthralled with it!
This book is truely unique, I must say. Reading the other reviews, I see it aint everyone's cup 'o tea. And that's completely acceptable! People have different tastes and intrests and I respect that. You cant judge this book by its covor, nor can you take one's word for it. This book took me to Meg's house and the planet Uri in surprising, beautiful detail. , its 100% Kid friendly, (For the moms reading this that are looking for appropriate books for their children to read) and very good Christain qualities. I wont give any of the bool away, but if you have your spiritual eyes open you can see those quallities right away. In other words, I personally loved it and I reccomend that one would at least give it a chance.
Just kidding; I still like Harry Potter. But Madeleine L'Engle is definately supieror when it comes to character development. Meg - the protagonist - is really likeable, and I also enjoy the evident closeness displayed between her and her brother Charles Wallace. I rmember reading this just barely out of Elementary - I loved it! I'm 20 now and have read it twice more since then and still enjoy it. Great for all ages and a perfect 5 stars!
This book was one of my favorites as a child and I re-read it as an adult as well as reading all of the companion books (A Wind in the Door, Swiftly Tilting Planet, etc.) I loved them both as a child and an adult. The characters show a whole range of personalities and struggles as well as character traits such as bravery and kindness.
I read "A Wrinkle in Time" first when i was in grade school...i loved it then..Now, almost 30 years later barnes&noble has a new edition on nook..bought it..still love it as much now as i did when i was a kid!
4th grade and up, all should read it, then re-read it every 10 years so you don't forget the importance of imagination in our lives to help us find new and better ways to use our gifts to serve others and create our own lives.
I loved the book when I read it. But its not a book that sticks in your mind. I watched the movie and I remember more but before the movie I only remember the basic and the parts that the kids in my class highlighted.
This book was ok, but the author had a whole bunch of confusing made-up words that were not in the dictionary, there were no pictures to show what was going on, and so much talking with nonsense words that it made it pretty boring. Don't waste your time and money and just don't buy it. You will probably not like it. I suggest spending your money on books that have real, understandable words.
I truely hated this and trust me im very open about books and try to find something ok with them but i couldn't with this book it is really boring i froced myself to read to the end if this is someones favortive it must only book they've ever read. PLEASE don't waste your time reading this book
this book is amazing. It's one of my favourites. would recommend to everyone.
This book made me think so much. My imagination ran wild!
I was so engrossed by this book and so empathized with the character of Meg that I think it really affected me for the rest of my life. The science-fiction fantasy element and the emotional heart of the book make it winning for readers who love adventure, and those looking for a warm-hearted family story. I must have read the book a dozen times as a child- and even as an adult, I'd love to curl up with it again. L'engle's imagination is nothing short of inspiring, and her characters win your heart.
The greatest part about this story is the lesson,be careful what you wish for,I don't want to ruin anything so I won't go into detail, but that is what I got out of the story.
I read this book for a project in school and it is wonderful. It has so many adventures and it is so exciting!
I enjoyed this book very much. It tells a story of three children, Meg and Charles Wallace are siblings, and their friend Calvin, who go on an adventure to find Meg's missing father. They are helped by three mysterious, though lovable characters, Mrs. Whatsit, Mrs. Who, and Mrs. Which, who turn out to be much more than they appear. I especially liked the quotations from famous figures from around the world that are frequently elucidated by the mysterious ladies. The story has an underlying theme of the power of love and the strength it gives us all to face the world around us.
I first read this book when I was 11 or 12 years old. From that moment I was hooked on science fiction. The science ideas touched on in this book were way ahead of their time and are still cutting-edge today.
My son brought the book home as required reading and it looked like a great read. And so it is! A very interesting, well spun story. However, the author purposely dethrones Jesus as the Son of God by mentioning him as a mere man just like other great men who have lived on this earth. We need to be careful to know what our children are being 'taught' even in fun and intriguing literature.
I read this book for the first time when I was ten, and it was one of the very first books I remember enjoying. Ten years later, I picked it up again, and while it brought me back to my childhood experience, re-reading also allowed me to see deeper into this book's themes, like the commentary it offers on communism. A Wrinkle in Time is a must-read for people of every age!
I LOVE this book. The plot's wonderful (I won't go into it because I destroy things when I try to summarize them and anyway you probably already know what it is). But I like the characters. Meg isn't quite accepted at her school. She's sort of an outcast, and I especially like that because I can relate to that. Much as I like Meg, though, I think my favorite character (at least of L'engle's works, if not in all the works I've read) is Calvin. He sort of masquerades as a 'beautiful person' - in with the popular crowd, basketball star, etc. But once we get to know him, he fits in more with the Murrys, who (for a lack of suitable words) just plain care more. Well, I may have ruined this attempt at a review...oh, well. It's a great book! Read it!
Do you know those books where you accidentally yell out loud to a character to run or hide because you are so tied into the book? The book, A Wrinkle In Time, is one of those books. The book started out with an unearthly stranger coming to visit the Wallaces house at midnight. The visitor was Mrs. Which. Most people thought she was a ghost who haunted the black house deep in the wood. She wanted to help Meg and Charles Wallaces find their missing father. The author, Madeleine L¿Engle, described setting, characters, and plot very detailed. It gave me a feeling that I was right there with them the whole time. Somehow it had the power to keep me reading the book rather than giving it up. At first, I agreed with what Meg and Charles were doing. But then I realized it was also a book with two endings. It all depends on what kind of personality you have. Some people choose one ending while others choose another. I did expect some surprising events toward the end. But it turned out to be a usual ending. The ending was just like those of other books.
My mom doesn't really like it when I write reviews about bad products but I will tell you the truth: this book was a disappointment. this is the first book by madeline l'engle i've read and because of this horrible book, I can assure you I won't read any more of her books. the books is plain stupid and confusing. I would never read a book like this. this book is insanely creepy and not good for young readers and too lame for older readers.
I WAS 8 WHEN I READ THIS WITH MY DAD! AND I MADE HIM READ IT AGAIN!