Tuesday, August 19, 2008

The Joys of Love by Madeleine L'Engle

Caution spoilers--
The first incarnation of The Joys of Love was written in the early 1940s and the novel remained unpublished during L'Engle's amazing career. It details the story of Elizabeth, going into her senior year at Smith and working at a summer stock theater. She is there on scholarship and must contend with her crotchety old aunt Harriet who wants her to give up her pie-in-the-sky dreams of acting and concentrate on science. In fact, Harriet is ready to give up any financial support when she discovers that Liz and her roommates have invited boys(!) into their dorm for late night gossip-fests. Liz has a fun troupe of friends, including awkward Ben and ethereal Jane. She thinks she has fallen for charming Kurt, but finds later that he is more of a cad than a true soulmate when he tries to get too friendly in his bedroom. The summer ends with new resolutions for Liz and the possibility of really achieving her acting dream as the understudy of a popular actress.
This book, while a charming glimpse at early L'Engle, has zero teen appeal, does not stand the timeliness test, and is not particularly thought-provoking. Big Thumb's Down


Iris said...

I'm sorry to say I agree. It is very clear why L'Engle couldn't get the book published in her lifetime.


kathy said...

agree. NAY. felt like dialogue was from bing crosby era of wide eyed starlet films - certainly of that nostalgic genre. definitely not among l'engle's best. I can see where her grandchildren were enchanted if it was partly biographical how-I-met- your-grandfather ilk. NAY