Becoming Madeleine: A Biography of the Author of a Wrinkle in Time by Her Granddaughters

Becoming Madeleine: A Biography of the Author of a Wrinkle in Time by Her Granddaughters

This middle-grade biography explores the life and works of Madeleine L'Engle --written by her granddaughters--coming just in time for the all-new A Wrinkle in Time film, directed by Ava DuVernay.This elegant and insightful biography of Madeleine L'Engle (1918-2007) was written by her granddaughters, Charlotte Jones Voiklis and Lena Roy. Using never-before-seen archival mat...

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Title:Becoming Madeleine: A Biography of the Author of a Wrinkle in Time by Her Granddaughters
Author:Charlotte Jones Voiklis
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Becoming Madeleine: A Biography of the Author of a Wrinkle in Time by Her Granddaughters Reviews

  • Sarah

    This is one I shall cherish for a very long time. When I was in the fifth grade my mother was privileged enough to hear Madeleine L'Engle speak at a church event. She brought back an autographed copy of A Wrinkle in Time. Last night, after finishing this new biography for youth, I opened my copy and fingered the words now more than 30 years old, "for Sarah - tesser well, Madeleine L'Engle." Sentimental, yes. Sappy? Perhaps. Yet that is the impact this book had on my heart.

    Just in time for the pr

    This is one I shall cherish for a very long time. When I was in the fifth grade my mother was privileged enough to hear Madeleine L'Engle speak at a church event. She brought back an autographed copy of A Wrinkle in Time. Last night, after finishing this new biography for youth, I opened my copy and fingered the words now more than 30 years old, "for Sarah - tesser well, Madeleine L'Engle." Sentimental, yes. Sappy? Perhaps. Yet that is the impact this book had on my heart.

    Just in time for the premiere of the film adaptation of L'Engle's Newberry award-winning novel comes this biography. And who better to write it than two of her granddaughters? The girls' love for their grandmother is clear, though it is not difficult to see why they should love her so. For Madeleine was quite a lady! The book focuses on her early childhood up until the publication of A Wrinkle in Time in 1962. Included are a plethora of journal entires, poems, school progress reports, and photographs. Truly a book to treasure! Lest you think this book is only for children and teens, let me assure you that is most definitely not the case. Anyone who is a fan of L'Engle or her work, anyone who has an interest in the writing process, or anyone who has ever felt alone will likely find a kinship with the author and gain inspiration from her determination and persistence.

    It has been a number of years since I read any of her books. From what I do remember, my interest the Wrinkle series had far less to do with the science aspect of it and was much more about the lives and feeling of the characters. As I read this biography it was not difficult to see how much of herself is infused into her characters. Although I was aware Madeleine had written several others, I am sorry to confess I had never taken a gander at any of them. I intend to correct that as I am curious to find more of her being amongst the pages of the novels.

  • Lisa Vegan

    Highly recommended to all fans of

    's books, to young people who have specific goals, especially if they want to be writers or artists or have aspirations to succeed in a particular field or endeavor. This book is a gift to fans of her books. Children and teens who have passion for writing will be particularly interested in this biography. I also recommend this to readers who’ve had an important grandchildren-grandparent bond because that part of the story clearly comes through t

    Highly recommended to all fans of

    's books, to young people who have specific goals, especially if they want to be writers or artists or have aspirations to succeed in a particular field or endeavor. This book is a gift to fans of her books. Children and teens who have passion for writing will be particularly interested in this biography. I also recommend this to readers who’ve had an important grandchildren-grandparent bond because that part of the story clearly comes through too.

    I inhaled this book in less than 2 days. It’s a book I wish I could own.

    I have loved this author since I was 9 years old and read

    /

    published two years earlier, and

    newly published that year. Those two books helped me get through my childhood and have never been off my top 10 list and that is saying a great deal. Despite being a huge fan of many of her books, and researching many people throughout my lifetime, for some reason I’d never made a point to learn much about her life. Readers can glean a lot about her early years without reading a biography. It’s obvious just from reading her books that she must have commonalities with Meg, with Vicky, with Camilla, with Flip, but this book gives details and they were so much fun to learn. She also wrote autobiographical works of her later years, but I’ve read just one or two.

    Now I’d like to read even more about her, but this book was extremely satisfying. The authors, her two granddaughters, deliberately chose to cover her life only up to the point of the publication of A Wrinkle in Time, and given that the book is written for middle grade readers, I think it was a sound decision, but now as an older adult I’d enjoy an account of her entire life, more than what she revealed in her writings.

    The photos and journal entries and letters, all the materials were wonderful to see. Marvelous for fans to have access to these things!

    I was impressed with what an accomplished person she was!

    I will say that some of the images of her early poems, letters, and journal entries were so tiny on the pages that I needed a magnifying glass to read some of their text. It was well worth the effort to do that.

    Bonus points from me: Not too far into this book I realized something about my own parents, similar to Madeleine’s in one way, and so I learned a bit about my life too.

    The book is well written and very well organized, and I appreciate that this account shows Madeleine as a well-rounded person, with many positive attributes and with flaws too, and shows happy and difficult events in her life. I appreciated the Epilogue and Author’s Note at the end of the book. Though some tragedies are mentioned along with her triumphs, I do think the book is suitable for middle grade kids and adolescents and adults can enjoy it too. I certainly did, maybe even more than I would have as a young person. I was completely engrossed while reading this.

    It was incredibly hard for me to write a review for this book because I knew I couldn’t do it justice. I’ve never been able to write proper reviews for any of this author’s books; as usual, it’s hardest for me to write reviews for books I’ve loved the most.

    And now I want to reread her books all over again and read ones I haven’t yet read. L’Engle was a prolific author.

    Since this is a biography these aren’t spoilers in the traditional sense but I think it would be most satisfying for readers to read this information in the book proper, so I’m putting the rest of the review in spoiler tags:

    5 full stars

  • Jenny

    Since Madeleine L’Engle is my favorite author, I was excited to read this biography, even though it is designed for a younger audience. I was very glad to see new pictures I had not seen before and especially of significant places which served as the backdrop for her writing. Even though she did not write it herself, the excerpts from her journals inspired me, like her writing always does.

  • Rondi Olson

    Excellent biography of Madeleine L'Engle written by her granddaughters. For the middle-grade audience and a quick read, but I thoroughly enjoyed it. Begins with information about her parents and ends with A Wrinkle in Time being accepted for publication.

    A must-read for lovers of A Wrinkle in Time and a wonderful source of inspiration for writers.

  • Laurie

    This middle-grade biography of Madeleine L'Engle, written by her granddaughters, included lots of photos and excerpts from Madeleine's own journals and letters. It ends with the publication of A Wrinkle in Time instead of with her death, which seemed a little premature -- or maybe I just wished it weren't over.

  • Joan

    Likely more of a 3.5 than a 4 star rating. It is nicely written, with all primary source material, naturally. It seems mostly based on research the granddaughters did through her voluminous journals, and on conversations with their grandmother, many from when the authors were still kids themselves. It pretty much stops after Wrinkle in Time was published, with a very short final chapter summing up the rest of her life. Their rationale was that they thought youth would be more interested in L'Eng

    Likely more of a 3.5 than a 4 star rating. It is nicely written, with all primary source material, naturally. It seems mostly based on research the granddaughters did through her voluminous journals, and on conversations with their grandmother, many from when the authors were still kids themselves. It pretty much stops after Wrinkle in Time was published, with a very short final chapter summing up the rest of her life. Their rationale was that they thought youth would be more interested in L'Engle's own youth than in her adult life. I suspect that stopping there also kept them from falling into the same trap as L'Engle herself in airing family life that the family would have preferred to be kept private. The authors clearly absolutely loved their grandmother. If you want a dispassionate biography showing the negatives as well as the positives of L'Engle, this is likely the wrong book for you. They did mention one action L'Engle took that she apparently never really understood the harm in doing, a prank in high school. But mostly this is really more of a work of love than a scholarly examination of L'Engle. With the movie "Wrinkle in Time" coming out March 9, this is highly recommended to fill in the time waiting for the movie.

  • Emily

    Insightful biography of author Madeleine L'Engle that explores her early life leading up to the publication of A Wrinkle in Time. I really enjoyed "meeting" Madeleine and reading through her life. This was written for an upper middle grade audience, and told the story well, using excerpts from journals, report cards, postcards, and other memorabilia as primary resources. My star rating is based on that. I feel like a lot of us sometimes rate memoirs, auto/biographies based on how much we liked t

    Insightful biography of author Madeleine L'Engle that explores her early life leading up to the publication of A Wrinkle in Time. I really enjoyed "meeting" Madeleine and reading through her life. This was written for an upper middle grade audience, and told the story well, using excerpts from journals, report cards, postcards, and other memorabilia as primary resources. My star rating is based on that. I feel like a lot of us sometimes rate memoirs, auto/biographies based on how much we liked the person, so I'm trying to make a conscious effort not to do that. Madeleine's personality was...well.

    I have to say, she was definitely an interesting individual. She had quite the paradoxical personality. I can understand why some people had a hard time getting along with her, but also how that helped her as a writer, and endeared her to others. For sure she is a wonderful writer, with a legacy in literature. I for, one, am a fan of her work. I need to go hunt up some of her poetry. I really liked the pieces that were in this book.

  • Tirzah Eleora

    I may have enjoyed this more if I had some familiarity with Madeleine L’Engle’s books, but I do hope that when I get around to trying her works they are more engagingly penned than this biography is. A good biography ought to make the reader feel as though she’s received a personal introduction to the subject, but the Madeleine in these pages is lifeless. The flat narrative style reads like one of those mediocre children’s biographies of famous people I had to read in the elementary grades, the

    I may have enjoyed this more if I had some familiarity with Madeleine L’Engle’s books, but I do hope that when I get around to trying her works they are more engagingly penned than this biography is. A good biography ought to make the reader feel as though she’s received a personal introduction to the subject, but the Madeleine in these pages is lifeless. The flat narrative style reads like one of those mediocre children’s biographies of famous people I had to read in the elementary grades, the purpose of which was merely to convey facts and not the person. This book was clearly geared for that same elementary-aged audience, so perhaps the authors felt a more descriptive and lively text wouldn’t hold the attention of the young?

    In addition to the poor quality of writing, the manner in which they chose to end the story of their grandmother was abrupt and startling. As soon as ‘A Wrinkle in Time’ has been accepted for publication, the book ends, with just a short epilogue to complete it. The authors explain that they did this mostly because they felt that young readers would be primarily interested in the young Madeleine, which is all fine and well, but I would have made it a bit more clear in the title or description that this in not, in fact, a biography of her entire life.

    Another con: the unaesthetic layout of the book.

    Pros would include the photographs and the many

    entries from Madeleine’s journals that pepper the book.

  • Jennifer

    A lovely biography of Madeleine L'Engle written by her granddaughters. The style is neat and simple (the book is intended to be appropriate for child readers as well as adults), and tracks Madeleine's life into her forties, when she finally sold A Wrinkle in Time to a publisher (it was rejected by many because it was considered too hard to categorize). It's striking how certain Madeleine was from an early age that she wanted to be a writer, and how much she struggled and doubted herself but kept

    A lovely biography of Madeleine L'Engle written by her granddaughters. The style is neat and simple (the book is intended to be appropriate for child readers as well as adults), and tracks Madeleine's life into her forties, when she finally sold A Wrinkle in Time to a publisher (it was rejected by many because it was considered too hard to categorize). It's striking how certain Madeleine was from an early age that she wanted to be a writer, and how much she struggled and doubted herself but kept working towards her dream. Unpleasant aspects of her life are mentioned (falling outs with friends, tensions with extended family, issues with her children), but they're not dwelt on, partly because the book moves quickly in general, and partly because the authors felt uncomfortable encroaching on certain aspects of their grandmother's life. Essentially, this book doesn't treat Madeleine's life like it was perfect or easy by any means, but it's not a tell-all biography, and glosses over a lot of details that I would've loved to have seen expanded. However, the real gem in here is the wealth of primary resources included: letters, journal entries, photographs, even old report cards. They make this book truly special, and I think it's a perfect gift for children (or adults) who love A Wrinkle in Time and wonder what kind of path can lead someone to write an iconic book.

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