Two-Part Invention by Madeleine L’Engle

This is the fourth and final of L’Engle’s Crosswick Journals. I skipped the third one (The Irrational Season) because it focuses on L’Engle’s relationship to Christianity, and I’m just not interested in that topic, even if it is L’Engle writing.

Published: 1988

Genre: nonfiction memoir

Length: 232 pages

Setting: Crosswicks in 1987, NYC in the 1960s

Summary: This book is all about L’Engle’s marriage, from its beginning to its end. In the present, Hugh is slowly dying of bladder cancer. That situation is intertwined with stories from when Madeleine and Hugh first met in an acting company, married, and raised a family together. Hugh acted for much of their marriage, with a brieg stint to run the local general store. Madeleine acted for a while and then settle down to focus on her writing.

Final thoughts: I enjoyed this book, but I still think the first Crosswicks Journal (A Circle of Quiet) was my favorite. This one felt different from the others. It felt more like a memoir and a recounting of memories than excerpts from L’Engle’s journals. That’s not a bad thing, just a difference in tone. I enjoyed the spiraling between the past and the present, mainly because the present stories were so hard to read. Everything that could go wrong for Hugh did go wrong. I also empathized with Hugh, having gone through chemotherapy and other treatment for cancer (breast cancer in my case). It was hard enough in the present day, and they didn’t have the therapeutic drugs to help you get through chemo back in the ’80s like they do today.

L’Engle certainly led an exotic life. She traveled with the theater, traveled for the government, and managed to raise three kids and write over 100 books in between. Her life certainly wasn’t a bed of roses, and in the Crosswicks Journals she lets us see the good with the bad. Her strong family ties and religious faith keep her strong, whatever the world throws at her. I found the series inspirational and aspirational. I definitely recommend the series if you enjoy her writing.

Title comes from: L’Engle finds playing the piano to be an important part of her day. She particularly enjoys Bach’s Two-Part Inventions. (She inspired me to dig out my copy of the inventions and play them again.) Even more impressive, the book is basically written as a two-part invention with the past and present intertwined in the story. In this case, the title not only reflects a topic but the structure of the book. Pretty impressive!

Reading challenges fulfilled: book #56 for the year, and #17 in my Finish the Series Challenge, finishing up the whole series!

If you’re interested in purchasing the book, you can click on the cover image or title to follow an Amazon affiliate link to the book and thanks for supporting my blog!


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