Book Review: A Live Coal in the Sea by Madeleine L’Engle (Four Stars)

Book Review: A Live Coal in the Sea: A Novel by Madeleine L’Engle (Four Stars)

‘But all the wickedness in the world which man may do or think is no more to the mercy of God than a live coal dropped in the sea.’ William Langland

This is the quality story one expects from a master. L’Engle displays the height of her storytelling in this very adult tale about the reverberations secrets and lies can cause those protected and those who think they are protecting.

‘Well, it seems very peculiar that God or evolution should make creatures that see upside down and then have to reverse everything. Is there a reason?’ ‘It’s just the way it is.’ ‘Like life. Upside down.’

Decidedly non-linear. Convoluted sequel to Camilla, written thirty years earlier. Few authors have L’Engle’s gift for segueing through time and point of view. Numerous shifts between numerous point-of-view characters and timeline without losing the attentive reader. (The casual reader is hereby forewarned.)

‘When two people, lovers, or sometimes friends, have an enduring care for each other, allow each other to be human, faulted, flawed, but real, then being human becomes a glorious thing to be.’

Camilla’s voice is that of a Ph.D. who is more at home at a lectern than with her own family. Didactic. Many sermons on just about every subject. Many autobiographical references, though the reader need know nothing about L’Engle. Not even necessary to have read Camilla.

‘Once upon a time we used to be so happy.’ ‘That time is gone, my darling. We have to live where we are now, somehow trying to clean up the mess.’

2 thoughts on “Book Review: A Live Coal in the Sea by Madeleine L’Engle (Four Stars)

  1. So much to read when I have more brainpower! Right now it all goes into writing. Lucky writers can read and write, and it is ‘recommended.’

    But my reading lately has been reading in the fascinating subject of Lewis Carroll – and it was all gobs of research.

    Will add this one to the TBR pile.

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