Originally posted Monday, February 23, 2009
Madeleine L’Engle has become a household name since this book was first written, the first in the Time Quartet. Readers of all ages have come to embrace this classic story of good versus evil. The book was originally published in 1962, the version I have was reprinted in April, 1973, about the time I first read this book at the same time my children did. The story is absolutely timeless, and as suited to an adult reader as to a child.
The plot revolves around the Murry family, Mrs. Murry - a scientist, Meg - a young girl who feels inadequate, the twins Sandy and Denys, and Charles Wallace Murry - a brilliant 4-year old, and their unexplained missing father Mr. Murry - a physicist. The plot also includes in this group a new-found friend of Meg’s, Calvin. A late night visitor enters the home which introduces the final pivotal characters, the three old ladies who are the catalysts that make the story happen. They accompany Meg, Charles and Calvin on an imaginative race through the universe via “tesseract”*, stopping on various worlds to rest. Tesseract has been described by Mrs. Murry as a concept involving time and space, an experiment she and her husband had been working on prior to his disappearance. The tessering group is off to find Mr.Murry. In the process, Meg will find herself.
The author has effortlessly, so it appears, guided us through this imagery with all the markings of fantasy based on possibility. There are marvelous descriptions of all that befall the group and the destination is all it should be; frightening, awe-inspiring, the fight between good and evil almost failing, and the reinforcement of human instinct and behaviour. A wonderful, exciting book that flows, no wonder it is a classic. I couldn’t recommend it more, it is a must read for all ages with imagination.
*according to Dictionary.com, “Origin: 1885–90; < Gk tésser(es) four + aktís ray”
*according to OED “the word tesseract was coined and first used in 1888 by Charles Howard Hinton in his book A New Era of Thought, from tesseres aktines”