This is one of my favorite books and I remember reading it in 8th grade in the fall of 1981, a year when I was discovering a lot of science fiction and fantasy for the first time. I recently read THE CHRONICLES OF NARNIA by C. S. Lewis and THE HOBBIT by J. R. R. Tolkien and just started THE LORD OF THE RINGS. So, A WRINKLE IN TIME has that similar nostalgia for me. It still has a certain charm when I reread it now in adulthood, even though it blends spirituality and science fiction and I'm an atheist, I still like the main theme of children who feel like outsiders coming together to have an adventure with love prevailing over tyrrany (I still haven't seen the 2018 movie, so have no comment on that). Rereading it prompted me to want to read the rest of the "Time Quintet" which includes the sequels to A WRINKLE IN TIME written in the 1970's and 1980's. I'm up to the fourth one, MANY WATERS, and I have to say the sequels just aren't as good. They lack the charm and magic of the original. I like the idea of a universe with many beings and truths "hidden in plain view" if only we had the wisdom and enlightenment to perceive them, but other than that I'm just not feeling an overall theme to the series.
Last Edit: Jun 25, 2020 10:05:22 GMT -5 by GRWelsh
I finished MANY WATERS (1986) over the weekend. It ended better than it started, and in the middle it sort of dragged on without much happening. It isn't worth a detailed critique, yet I enjoyed her portrayal of unicorns that are only there when you believe in them, and her take on manticores, griffins and the nephilim (fallen angels) and seraphim (loyal angels). Some reviewer described this book as "Bible fan fiction" and that is ungenerous but accurate... I'd say well-written Bible fan fiction. That highlights one of the many differences between this book and the first book in the series: A WRINKLE IN TIME (1962). The first book wasn't dogmatic about one religion or earthly worldview being true, and in fact it hinted at us not having the whole picture and enlightenment and moral exemplars arising from multiple points of view (pp. 88-89):
"And we're not alone, you know, children," came Mrs. Whatsit, the comforter. "All through the universe it's being fought, all through the cosmos, and my, but it's a grand and exciting battle. I know it's hard for you to understand about size, how there's very little difference in the size of the tiniest microbe and the greatest galaxy. You think about that, and maybe it won't seem strange to you that some of our very best fighters have come right from your own planet, and it's a little planet, dears, out on the edge of a little galaxy. You can be proud that it's done so well."
"Who have our fighters been?" Calvin asked.
"Oh, you must know them, dear," Mrs. Whatsit said.
Mrs. Who's spectacles shone out at them triumphantly, "And the light shineth in the darkness; and the darkness comprehended it not."
"Jesus!" Charles Wallace said. "Why of course, Jesus!"
"Of course!" Mrs. Whatsit said. "Go on, Charles, love. There were others. All your great artists. They've been lights for us to see by."
"Leonardo da Vinci?" Calvin suggested tentatively. "And Michelangelo?"
"And Shakespeare," Charles Wallace called out, "and Bach! And Pasteur and Madame Curie and Einstein!"
Now Calvin's voice rang with confidence. "And Schweitzer and Gandhi and Buddha and Beethoven and Rembrandt and St. Francis!"
"Now you, Meg," Mrs. Whatsit ordered.
"Oh Euclid, I suppose." Meg was in such an agony of impatience that her voice grated irritably. "And Copernicus. But what about Father? Please, what about Father?"
Notice how Gandhi and Buddha got slipped in there? Also, in A WRINKLE IN TIME, the status of higher beings like Mrs. Whatsit, Mrs. Who and Mrs. Which is much more ambiguous... They are like angels, but not called such. Mrs. Whatsit said she was a star who lost her life fighting the darkness, but what does that mean, exactly? By contrast, in MANY WATERS, the higher beings are simply identified as seraphim and nephilim -- no mystery at all. Also, the first book seemed to care more about having some grounding in science fiction, but MANY WATERS just ignores science by treating the flood myth as a historical event and young earth creationism as true... This series has trended to go more in the direction of Christian fantasy rather than ambiguously spiritual science fiction. Also, it's gotten less creative... Having the twins sent back to Noah's time just before the Flood sounds like a lack of original ideas.
I started on the final book, AN ACCEPTABLE TIME (1989), and it is much better so far. More of the action takes place in and around the Connecticut farm house where all of the adventures started back in A WRINKLE IN TIME. I think the author is at her best when describing the New England autumn and the comforts of home and interaction of the family members and friends. I've always wanted to see the characters discussing what happened to them previously, and building on that. For example, once they learn to tesser, that should open up all sorts of possibilities. But that sort of gets dropped in later books. In this book, she's also making more references to past books in what seems to be a self-conscious effort to tie it all together and end it. So, I'm hoping for a strong finish. Mrs. Whatsit, Mrs. Who and Mrs Which were such great characters -- I'd love to see them make a return!
Last Edit: Jun 30, 2020 11:58:55 GMT -5 by GRWelsh
I finished AN ACCEPTABLE TIME and I'm glad I did but none of the sequels lived up to the original so I can't really recommend the series. These are young adult fantasy, so there really wasn't much to recommend other than the first one being so exceptional and iconic. In this latest book, I ended up liking Polly's visit to her grandparents in New England better than her adventure across time. The parts describing the New England autumn, and interactions with the grandparents, the bishop and Louise were all better than the time travel stuff that just wasn't that exciting or well thought out. British druids living among Native Americans three thousand years ago didn't make much sense. Neither did the low mountains of Connecticut being high, jagged, snow covered peaks. If there were some main themes, I'd say they were the redemptive power of God's love, and the theological question of how Christ existed and interacted with reality as the second person of the Trinity prior to the birth of Jesus, and sacrifice -- blood versus love. It felt like L'Engle was working out her own theological questions and problems moreso than building on the interesting universe we were introduced to in the first book -- which is a shame.
Last Edit: Jul 10, 2020 14:35:02 GMT -5 by GRWelsh