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Thursday, October 4, 2012

31 Days of Good Books - Day 4 : Two-Part Invention by Madeleine L'Engle

"When we were children, we used to think that when we were grown-up we would no longer be vulnerable. But to grow up is to accept vulnerability... To be alive is to be vulnerable. " Madeleine L'Engle

Two-Part Invention 
A Story of a Marriage
by Madeleine L'Engle 

I must say I read this book because Madeleine L'Engle's quotes made me adore her and I wanted to know more about a woman who thought like that. (See the sidebar for a splash of her quotes.)  An independent and insightful woman, well informed on world events and holding opinions which were not always popular.  A woman able to hold her tongue when it was prudent, but never wavering in her convictions.  A sad moment came when I realized there was no opportunity for me to ever meet her, because as I became aware of her... she had passed away.

Madeleine L'Engle wrote this memoir on her marriage during her husband's battle with cancer.  Beginning with the beginning, she tells of her own upbringing and what brought her to work in the theater, where she met Hugh Franklin - a fellow actor.  Madeleine left theater and published 60 books.  Hugh Franklin became an actor on a soap opera.  They moved from NYC to a country home, in need of repair.  For a time, they ran a small country store there. 

She expresses honestly that every 40 year marriage has periods of time when they aren't in a honeymoon phase, maybe even believe the love is gone, but she reveals the commitment that brought her marriage through those times.  Through the sicknesses, losses, children, and changes in their careers they remained.  Marriage has changed, and this was a fascinating glimpse into a couple born at a different time with different expectations of marriage.  He didn't need to be her everything. He let her down, she let him down... they didn't walk away.

"I learned fairly early in my marriage that I did not have to confide everything on my mind to my husband; this would be putting on him burdens which I was supposed to carry myself.  When a bride insists on telling her lover everything, I suspect she is looking for a father, not a husband.  Some of my life was mine to be known by me alone. But our marriage was ours, belonged to the two of us, and was full of wonderful things, terrible things, joyous things, grievous things, but ours."

What was so beautifully revealed in this book was the strength and tenderness of a woman who endures even when she's lost what is so dear to her.

This post is part of The 31 Days project at The Nester.  Here are some other 31 Days.... participants you may enjoy .

31 Days of Life After Loss
31 Days of Lovely Lines (Book themed)
31 Days Towards 10 Minute Dinners

Have you read a memoir or biography that impressed something tangible into your own life that lasted beyond the book?  Please share.

If you're a 31 Days participant, let me know where to find you so I can drop by.


  1. It seems everything nowadays has become disposable, not just diapers and paper plates, but relationships, marriage and commitments, too. I'm of the belief that if something was worth having in the first place, it's worth preserving and holding on to.

  2. I haven't read Madeleine L'Engle since A Wrinkle in Time....a very long time ago. Thank you for this review and the quotes. I'm definitely adding her to my wish list now! {And thank you for adding Lovely Lines to your list!}

  3. I listened to the audio version of A Wrinkle In Time, read by the author. She had a raspy quality and a lisp and it felt like a relative was reading it to me rather than an actor. It was wonderful, but not everyone felt that way.

    I know what you mean, Ms. A. I read somewhere that 80% of marriages that are described by the spouses as unhappy are indeed happy when asked 5 years later.

    I'm loving your posts, Katie!

  4. I adore Madeleine L'Engle, but somehow I've never come across this book of hers! Putting it on the list now, thanks!