I've never read anything from this author before, but I might try something else by her. This was a nice glimpse of life in the theatrical world of post-war America. (That's post WWII)
I thought I'd read just about everything that Madeleine L'Engle had published, so I was astonished to see this book turn up when I was searching for something else entirely (which is usually how things work for me).
Madeleine L'Engle died nearly three years ago at the age of 88. The Joys of Love was published last year by her granddaughters. This is a very early novel, based on a short story she wrote in 1942 at about the age of 24. She reworked the story into a novel in the early fifties and re-set it in 1946, which was the year she met her husband the actor Hugh Franklin.
As I'd read pretty nearly everything she wrote, including such early novels as The Small Rain and And Both Were Young, I was braced for a rather dated and slightly awkward book. L'Engle really hit her stride as an author in the early sixties, and The Joys of Love, being such an early novel, only gives a hint of the skilled story-teller that L'Engle later became. At this stage, she was a very good descriptive writer; her scene-setting is an effective time machine, taking us back to a New England summer sixty years gone. However, although her granddaughter Léna Roy tells us that L'Engle's dramatic training gave her "a keen knack for dialogue", this book is not a good example. Even as a lifetime fan, I found myself groaning inwardly (and sometimes out loud) at the painfully artificial conversations these characters have.
If you're reading Madeleine L'Engle for the first time, *please* don't start with this book. Begin with her classic A Wrinkle in Time or A Ring of Endless Light, or even one of her autobiographical Crosswicks Journals. The Joys of Love is for established L'Engle aficionados only, interesting for the promise of great things to come.
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