Cover image for Becoming Madeleine : a biography of the author of A wrinkle in time by her granddaughters / Charlotte Jones Voiklis and Léna Roy.
Title:
Becoming Madeleine : a biography of the author of A wrinkle in time by her granddaughters / Charlotte Jones Voiklis and Léna Roy.
ISBN:
9780374307646
Edition:
First edition.
Publication Information:
New York : Farrar Straus Giroux, 2018.

©2018
Physical Description:
162 pages : illustrations, portraits ; 24 cm
Contents:
Before Madeleine -- A New York City childhood -- Trouble at school -- Switzerland -- From child to teen -- The Eustace affair -- Senior year -- The college years -- The best school for a writer -- Making a living -- Work and love -- Marriage and children -- Making the leap.
Abstract:
This elegant and insightful biography of Madeleine L'Engle (1918-2007) was written by her granddaughters, Charlotte Jones Voiklis and Léna Roy. Using never-before-seen archival materials that include photographs, poems, letters, and journal entries from when Madeleine was a child until just after the publication of her classic, A Wrinkle in Time, her granddaughters weave together an in-depth and unique view of the famous writer. It is a story of overcoming obstacles--a lonely childhood, financial insecurity, and countless rejections of her writing--and eventual triumph. Becoming Madeleine will speak not only to fans of the icon's work, but also to anyone interested in writing. --! From publisher's description.
Audience/Reading Level:
Middle school.
Added Author:
Holds:
Copies:

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1 Bob Harkins Branch 813.54 LEN VOI Book Junior Collection
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Summary

Summary

This middle-grade biography explores the life and works of Madeleine L'Engle --written by her granddaughters.

This elegant and insightful biography of Madeleine L'Engle (1918-2007) was written by her granddaughters, Charlotte Jones Voiklis and Léna Roy. Using never-before-seen archival materials that include photographs, poems, letters, and journal entries from when Madeleine was a child until just after the publication of her classic, A Wrinkle in Time , her granddaughters weave together an in-depth and unique view of the famous writer. It is a story of overcoming obstacles--a lonely childhood, financial insecurity, and countless rejections of her writing--and eventual triumph. Becoming Madeleine will speak not only to fans of the icon's work, but also to anyone interested in writing.


Author Notes

Charlotte Jones Voiklis has a Ph.D. in Comparative Literature and manages Madeleine L'Engle's literary legacy. She lives in New York City.

Léna Roy works with young writers in Westchester and Connecticut as the Regional Manager for Writopia Lab. She is also the author of the young adult novel, Edges. She lives in New York.


Reviews 3

Publisher's Weekly Review

L'Engle's granddaughters have produced a perceptive look at the prolific author's solitary childhood, gawky adolescence, and early adulthood, concluding in 1961 with FSG acquiring the manuscript of the book that would become A Wrinkle in Time. Making generous use of L'Engle's diary entries (starting when she was 14 and at a Swiss boarding school), correspondence, and memorabilia, the book will appeal to aspiring writers as well as L'Engle's admirers. The liveliest and most engrossing sections focus on L'Engle's young adulthood in New York City as she strove to make a career in the theater and as a novelist. Early successes in both arenas gave way to rejection and frustration, but L'Engle persisted, faithful to her need to write, regardless of publication. At 30, she reflected in her journal: "It is just a necessary function to me like breathing and eating and eliminating. And is one of my greatest joys. And one of my greatest agonies." A personal prologue and a moving epilogue that succinctly touches on L'Engle's later adulthood from her granddaughters' perspective are additional highlights, as are the many photos of the writer and her family. Ages 9-12. (Feb.) © Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.


New York Review of Books Review

WHEN THE CHILDREN'S NOVEL "A Wrinkle in Time" appeared more than 50 years ago, some thought it had a genre disorder. Science fiction? Family story? Social satire? Spiritual allegory? The book, which went on to win a Newbery Medal, is all this and more. I consider it essentially a tender rescue myth, an Orpheus and Eurydice-type story repurposed to feature familial instead of romantic love and made startling by a bravely happy ending. A new Hollywood film version came out earlier this spring. The movie can neither increase nor erode the passion we aging children still feel for Meg Murray and the three weird guardians - Mrs. Whatsit, Mrs. Who and Mrs. Which - who chaperone her through space and time via tesseract. (That's travel courtesy of the fifth dimension - though among other things, tessera means "four" in Greek, and the fourth dimension is time. I felt brainy when I was 12 and figured that out. It seems like just yesterday, and that's another kind of time travel.) I knew the book's author, Madeleine L'Engle, for nearly 30 years. She was loyal, generous, opinionated and comfortable in her stature as an elder. Privately I thought of her as Aunt Beast, from Chapter 11. So I turned with interest to "Becoming Madeleine," this middlegrade audio portrait of the quirky and beloved writer. One listens to "Becoming Madeleine" primarily for clues to how such a genrebuster of a fantasy novel could emerge in the early 1960s, and from this particular author. The two biographers and narrators are L'Engle's granddaughters. One presents the main narrative in gracious, unhurried prose delivered in level tones suited to a nature documentary voiceover; the other intersperses excerpts from L'Engle's vivid journals with greater gusto. The authors cover the first half of L'Engle's life. This includes Florida forebears, a Swiss boarding school education, Smith College, forays into the theater and fiction writing and then marriage and motherhood. The biography leads up to and includes the publication of "A Wrinkle in Time" in 1962. Here the story stops, and sensibly so; children love a triumph. Only scholars care to know what comes next. After "A Wrinkle in Time" brought L'Engle both glory and fame, she became well known as the librarian of the Cathedral of St. John the Divine in Manhattan. When she began to publish adult nonfiction that mentioned her faith, some readers weren't surprised. What is the secret weapon in "A Wrinkle in Time" but love, that most central of Christian virtues? Curiously, "Becoming Madeleine" avoids any mention of L'Engle's childhood piety - or lack thereof. Furthermore, the only children's books identified as having been cherished in her youth are, I believe, "Emily of New Moon" and "Swallows and Amazons." Both are robust stories of realism without a scrap of myth or an urge of magic about them. Whence, then, L'Engle's adroitness at fantasy or science fiction, call it what you will, with its reliance on enormous inventiveness, narrative panache and derring-do? Born in 1918, Madeleine L'Engle was of her times. Her letters to home and her journals are written with innocence, fervor and adolescent drama. But the story of how young Madeleine L'Engle Camp actually became Madeleine L'Engle, making the leap in one book from midcentury author of domestic dramas to high prophet of earnest confidence in humanity, filled with creative drive, spiritual enthusiasm - this remains something of a mystery. And why not? That a stubborn individual shaped by her times can write an accidental masterpiece that lives into the future is always a mystery. Perhaps even a kind of tesseract. ? GREGORY MAGUIRE is the author of "Wicked," "Egg & Spoon" and many other books.


Horn Book Review

During what we hope could be a resurgence of interest in Madeleine LEngle due to the movie release of A Wrinkle in Time, the authors granddaughters present a sweet biography. Although the intended audience is young people, adult fans are the most likely readers of this breezy sketch of LEngles life from childhood through the publication of her most famous book. Not as comprehensive as Leonard S. Marcuss Listening for Madeleine (2012), but nice insight into the artist as a young woman, particularly as demonstrated in her journal entries, generously shared here. roger sutton (c) Copyright 2018. The Horn Book, Inc., a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.


Table of Contents

Prologuep. 3
Before Madeleinep. 7
A New York City Childhoodp. 15
Trouble at Schoolp. 23
Switzerlandp. 29
From Child to Teenp. 41
The Eustace Affairp. 57
Senior Yearp. 65
The College Yearsp. 75
The Best School for a Writerp. 85
Making a Livingp. 101
Work and Lovep. 109
Marriage and Childrenp. 117
Making the Leapp. 139
Epiloguep. 151
Authors' Notep. 161

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