Review of A Light So Lovely: A Look at the Spiritual Legacy of Author Madeleine L'Engle

I read A Wrinkle in Time as a child. It was my first introduction to an author that I quickly became intrigued with- both as a child and then as an adult. At first, I was just swept up in a great book. I loved her writing style, and I loved the science fiction genre, so Madeleine L’Engle’s children’s books were perfect for me.

As an adult Madeleine L’Engle intrigued me because, honestly, I just wasn’t sure what her worldview was, and I wanted to discover more about her intrinsic beliefs and personal faith. I knew that she received criticism from both sides- some secular readers and authors considered her “too Christian.” There are places in her books where she specifically mentions or alludes to the Christian faith. On the other hand, conservative Christians often criticized her because she was too open, all-inclusive, and her mentions of faith didn’t seem conservative enough.

Personally, I’ve enjoyed reading A Wrinkle in Time and some of her other children’s books with my children because of this debate. I like to bring up with them her mentions of faith and discuss whether what we’re reading lines up with our personal worldviews. It’s a great opportunity to have some of those big picture discussions with the kids.

Madeleine L'Engle biography

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Disclosure: I received a free copy of this book in exchange for review. All opinions are my own, and I was not compensated in any other way.

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I’ve often looked up information about Madeleine L’Engle to try to determine more of her belief system. I enjoyed A Circle of Quiet– the first in her Crosswicks Journal series where she’s actually sharing her personal thoughts about day to day life. And I was excited to read a new biography of Madeleine L’Engle- A Light So Lovely: The Spiritual Legacy of Madeleine L’Engle, Author of A Wrinkle in Time by Sarah Arthur.

A Light So Lovely– About the Book

The author of this book, Sarah Arthur, is another Madeleine L’Engle fanatic. She’s read much more than I from the author, but she’s also been intrigued by the personal beliefs of this prolific author who seems to blur the line between sacred and secular, often satisfying neither group. 
Throughout this book, Sarah is looking at this balance in the life of L’Engle and looking at how L’Engle’s life and works have shaped the conversation about the balance of sacred and secular, art and truth, fact and fiction. The book isn’t a straight chronological biography. Instead each chapter is looking at a particular facet of L’Engle’s life: the elements that have shaped her beliefs, her amazing impact on others, A Wrinkle in Time- one of the works she’s best known for, how science affected Madeleine L’Engle’s life and beliefs, and how she dealt with sorrow and challenges in her life and attempted to battle the darkness- both within and without.
As Sarah proceeds through the book, she’s not only sharing information about Madeleine L’Engle along with the impact that the author had on her life, she’s also sharing conversations that she’s had with the people who knew and were also impacted by L’Engle. Each chapter begins with a quote from one of Madeleine L’Engle’s nonfiction works, and the chapter titles- except for the final chapter- all relate an element of conflict or paradox that was reflected in the life of L’Engle- Icon and Iconoclast, Sacred and Secular, Truth and Story, Faith and Science, Religion and Art, Fact and Fiction.
Madeleine L'Engle biography

A Light So Lovely– My Thoughts

This is a book I looked forward to, and I wasn’t disappointed. I think I was captured by the quote before the very first introductory chapter.

We draw people to Christ not by loudly discrediting what they believe, by telling them how wrong they are and how right we are, but by showing them a light that is so lovely that they want with all their hearts to know the source of it.

I think this quote- from the nonfiction book Walking on Water- captures L’Engles worldview so beautifully. Her life was lived, not to shove her belief in God into the faces of her readers, but to shine a light, a light that would draw others and encourage them to seek out the source.
I love the way that Sarah Arthur uses these conflicts, these paradoxes to help us understand L’Engle and her worldview. I love the quotes that she features from L’Engles nonfiction works. I’m ashamed to say I haven’t read any of those except A Circle of Quiet, and I want to read them after reading through this biography.
Madeleine L’Engle was a prolific writer and wrote over forty books- even after many, many initial rejections. Currently because of the recent remake of A Wrinkle in Time, she’s well known for her middle grade Time Quintet. But you can find a list of all of her children and adult fiction and nonfiction here.

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