Friday, July 12, 2013

July 2013 book: Certain Women

Amy has picked "Certain Women" by Madeleine L'Engle for our July 2013 book. It's a book she's read before and she's always wanted to chat about it with others.


From Library Journal

In Certain Women , terminally ill David Wheaton, a prominent and much-married American actor, obsessively recalls an unfinished play about King David, a role he coveted. L'Engle explores Christian faith, love, and the nature of God by framing the delayed-maturation story of Emma, Wheaton's daughter, within three subplots: the Wheaton family saga, the story of King David, and the history of the play's development. The characterizations of both Davids are compelling, but the primary interest here is the community of women that surrounds each man. L'Engle describes complex truths very simply, pointing out, for instance, that "Life hurts" and that if there's "no agony, there's no joy." Because she also details the emotional cost of discovering and accepting such concepts, many readers will find these observations memorable rather than simplistic. Appropriate for all but the smallest general collections. Previewed in Prepub Alert, LJ 6/15/92.
- Jane S. Bakerman, Indiana State Univ., Terre Haute

From Publishers Weekly

"Marrying was a habit with me, a bad habit," David Wheaton declares from his deathbed in this disappointing novel by the Newbery Award-winning CK author of A Wrinkle in Time . As the 87-year-old actor's boat plies the waters of the Pacific Northwest, Wheaton looks back on his life with eight wives and 11 children. Also on board is his devoted daughter Emma, stunned by the imminence of her father's death and by the recent dissolution of her marriage to a playwright whose drama about King David and his wives provides the framework for L'Engle's relentless analogies between the Old Testament monarch and the modern-day actor. Recasting the biblical tale as a meditation on love and marriage, L'Engle piles on literary references: David met Emma's mother while making a film version of The Mill on the Floss , named their daughter after the heroine of Madame Bovary and calls his boat the Portia . But name-dropping does not a work of literature make. The epigraph from St. Luke--"Certain women made us astonished"--is not borne out by these two-dimensional characters, who don't astonish in the least as they speak and act by formula. The heavy-handed biblical subtext overwhelms rather than enhances the contemporary drama. ( Oct.

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