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The Joys of Love Hardcover – April 29, 2008

4.5 out of 5 stars 18 customer reviews

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Against the backdrop of an ancient battle between the forces of Light and the forces of Darkness, Aidan struggles to control the newly awakened and enigmatic powers that seem to be his only hope for rescuing Ava, his little sister, trapped somewhere beyond the Veil. Paperback | Kindle book | See more for Teen and Young Adult readers

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Written in the late '40s but not taken on by L'Engle's agent, this posthumously published novel is more artifact than timeless story. As such, it will primarily interest readers who want to know more about the author of the groundbreaking A Wrinkle in Time, especially because an introduction by L'Engle's granddaughter Léna Roy identifies it as semiautobiographical. Elizabeth, like L'Engle a graduate of Smith College, has convinced her controlling guardian aunt to let her take a scholarship apprenticeship at a summer theater, even though her aunt vigorously opposes Elizabeth's lifelong passion for the stage. Set over a long weekend, the action revolves around Elizabeth's infatuation with a womanizing director from the city and her subsequent disillusionment; luckily a decent fellow is around to pledge his love to her. Even with a veil thrown over the characters' sex lives, L'Engle suggests the intimacy, good and bad, within a theater company, and her dialogue pungently evokes the period. The tidiness of the resolutions betrays the inexperience of the writer—which, paradoxically, may endear this work to L'Engle fans. And although the conflicts are dated, the heroine's yearnings often transcend the '40s setting. Ages 12–up. (June)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

From School Library Journal

Grade 10 Up—Just after college graduation, Elizabeth joins a summer theater troupe where she finds elusive love with Kurt, a pompous director, and deep friendship with her lanky, goofy colleague Ben. L'Engle revisits her own theater experiences at the beach in the 1940s, making this novel's salty breezes, musty shared quarters, and boardwalk burgers vivid. Beautifully unadorned language and fluid dialogue recall a bygone era that might feel foreign to modern teens. Even dated colloquialisms and social mores, however, cannot diminish L'Engle's magnificent rendering of a smart girl's guileless romantic missteps. Teens will cringe as Elizabeth swoons over Kurt and ignores the clear chemistry that she shares with Ben. They will quickly forgive her, as the young woman's unwavering sense of self, her heady belief in acting, and grounded acceptance of life's inequities make her a powerful, appealing character. The wonderfully simple, economic prose allows Elizabeth's revelations to shine with glimmering clarity, like moonlight on the ocean.—Shelley Huntington, New York Public Library
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
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Product Details

  • Age Range: 12 - 18 years
  • Grade Level: 7 - 12
  • Lexile Measure: 770L (What's this?)
  • Hardcover: 272 pages
  • Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux (BYR); Stated First Edition edition (April 29, 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0374338701
  • ISBN-13: 978-0374338701
  • Product Dimensions: 6.2 x 1 x 8.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 13.6 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (18 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,753,679 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Madeleine L'Engle, the popular author of many books for children and adults, has interspersed her writing and teaching career with raising three children, maintaining an apartment in New York and a farmhouse of charming confusion which is called "Crosswicks."

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By SirTheory on May 22, 2008
Format: Hardcover
Somehow and without much fuss a new Madeleine L'Engle novel has been published. I was most ecstatic when I found out about it several days ago and quickly read it. Apparently, according to the preface, it is an older book she wrote but publishers didn't have any interest in. So she gave it to her grandkids to be something for them. Well, a couple of years ago one of them re-discovers the book and was of the opinion that interest in L'Engle has reached a point where there might now be interest.

As a result The Joys of Love reads more like L'Engle's earlier material than not, which is definitely a good thing. It is more straightforward than (for example) A Small Rain, with the steady setting more reminiscent of Camilla.

The best thing about this book, though, is the fact that it is a real, live rediscovered novel. Too often when an author dies a publisher slaps together some of their unfinished writings (look at Douglas Adams, for example) and while it is nice to have those, they leave you aching for something more substantial... something which the author themselves would have wanted us to read. And with The Joys of Love we get that.

Definitely recommended for those who love L'Engle beyond her Time Quartet.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This book is a sweet, well written story. It is the perfect sort of book for a rainy day or a sick day when you want something entertaining and pleasant, but you do not want to tax your brain. I enjoyed it greatly.
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Format: Hardcover
Elizabeth has big dreams of becoming an actress. She loves everything about the theater and feels born to be a part of it. Her aunt, who has raised her, wants a more conventional life and disapproves of Elizabeth's ambitions to become an actress.

Taking place over a mere four days, Elizabeth is forced to learn a lot about herself, about her career ambitions, and about growing up. Her aunt disapproves of the lifestyle Elizabeth has adopted while working for a theater company, and has withdrawn the money she was paying for Elizabeth's room and board. This leaves Elizabeth to confront just what compromises she will make in her life to realize her dream.

The melodramatic title aside, this is a lovely book. It's set in 1946, with mentions of Automats, and with characters speaking a diction reminiscent of an earlier time. It's a detailed look into the lives of young men and women trying to find themselves by playing other characters. Elizabeth doesn't just have to stand up to her aunt, she also has to learn about the kind of love that comes along with growing up.

The characters are well drawn, and L'Engle deftly draws the reader in to the stories of the minor characters as well as the major ones. It is an example in character study, with a satisfying ending that does not feel trite or contrived.

Reviewed by: Marie Robinson
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Format: Hardcover
The Joys of Love is a coming of age young adult novel set in the 1940's and first conceived as a short story in 1948, so it's quite different from the Young Adult offerings of this decade. When she tried to sell it decades ago, the agents/publishers weren't quite sure how to classify it then either (I received that bit of information from the introduction by her granddaughter, which almost is worth the purchase price itself!).

The story parallels L'Engle's own young adult years that she spent in the theater, so it's a must-read for fans of L'Engle's writings and philosophy. However since the young twenty-somethings of that era probably have more in common with a fourteen-year-old today, the book might span a wider age range than many YA offerings -- even if the respect for parental authority and for good clean fun might seem a bit antiquated.

The only nod to sex is when one character asks if two others are sleeping together (and the answer was, "I don't know. I haven't thought about it."). The material would be appropriate for any teen, but the subject matter would be best appreciated by ages sixteen on up. It would be especially interesting for anyone with a professional or avocational interest in the theater or the arts.

Twenty-one year old Elizabeth Jerrold is in that typical post-college decision-making stage. She earned a sensible degree as her guardian aunt desired, but now she's gotten on as an apprentice in a summer theater on the Jersey coast to see if she has a hope of making a living doing what she loves -- acting.

Alongside the choices she is making about her future, there are inevitably choices concerning love. This plotline is expertly handled by L'Engle.
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Format: Hardcover
A nice, entertaining read...and like a typical L'Engle, there's so much more beneath the surface.

L'Engle's tales seem so real because, for the most part, they are. I have to wonder which parts, but that's my own curiosity. It's simple enough to read and enjoy, and wonder if our heroine will end up with the cad.

There's something very real about a L'Engle novel. I like that. I wish I'd have known about these books (beyond 'Wrinkle'). Perhaps she could've given me the courage to realize that there was another adolescence than the reality that Judy Bloom presented. Gratefully, I can read L'Engle's adult works with an appreciation for grace and forgiveness for human weakness.
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