Customer Reviews: The Small Rain: A Novel
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This is an excellent book, even more so because it is L'Engle's first published novel--quite an accomplishment. It is realistic without being tiresome, and also has an element of fantasy in that Katherine's music rises above all her trials, often keeping her sane, and ultimately saving her. I'm disappointed by some of the reviews of A Small Rain. Many of the readers didn't like that Sarah became an unlikable character, but that is something that often happens in life, and Madeleine L'Engle is trying to show that. Besides, the hardships that Katherine endures in her young life are what ultimately build her character and make her so identifiable. It would be wrong to be happy at Sarah's betrayal of Katherine, but it strengthens her. Also, the fact that Katherine's romances don't work out in this book, though initially disturbing, is ultimately the right thing. She is very young, and someone you love when you're sixteen is not likely to be the right person to spend your life with. If you are disappointed with the ending to this book, read its sequel, A Severed Wasp. It resolves everything and shows how Katherine finally finds the true, longlasting love that she was waiting for. Both books are excellent, Madeleine L'Engle at her best.
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on August 6, 2004
This book just sang - the writing was lyrical, beautiful and subtle. It was stunning. It showed the mind, growth and development of an artist, and how things - feeling like an "oddball" in school, the death of an acquaintance, hurts in love, an unusual childhood - can affect an artist deeply, and at the same time contribute to her art.
I also loved the 1940s flavor of the book - everybody smoked like fiends, wore fur, even the children drank, and her piano teacher had a live in valet. Her books all have such an east coast/European intellectual artist feel - its like entering a different world. You could never imagine a L'Engle character, even one in the 2000s, watching "Outback Jack", going on the Adkins diet, or shopping at WalMart.
Also, L'Engle's minor characters were fascinating - I wanted to know more about Julie Forrester - she seemed just out of reach, and very mysterious. Everyone seemed to admire her, despite her glaring flaws, and she enriched the others' lives in a strange, indescribable way.
L'Engle's talent is unbelievable. I strongly recommend this book.
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on October 21, 2000
I could hardly put this novel down and finished it in three days. I appreciate Madeleine L'Engle for her realistic plot and amazing descriptions of life. She surprised me with her treatment of controversial issues...she really does color outside of the lines of popular Christian art. Madeleine widens my horizons, opens my eyes to experiences that are different than my own. She is a true artist who shows us all of the story, the good and the bad, without passing judgement. This made me, the reader, feel much more involved in the story. I found myself wrestling with issues without simply accepting the writer's judgements of them.

Even though Katherine's life is tragic, the reader finds herself relating to Katherine's feelings and needs. I could relate to Katherine's naive thoughts and actions, and her growing into understanding of others and herself. This is a beautiful growing-up story, one that is so well-written that it deserves praise.
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on July 12, 2005
The fact that this was a first published novel is amazing. It is excellent! It is written in another time and place about another time and place. And, it has moments of melodrama. But, the characters are real and fleshed out and human. Some people don't like that there is no romantic happy ending. Well, Katherine does find a lifetime love ... with one of the characters in this book. But, you have to read the sequel to find out about that. And that is appropriate for a character as young as Katherine is in this novel. In A Severed Wasp, you meet her as an old woman looking back on her life, in a way. In this book, you meet her as a young girl with a promising future and you watch her as she gets some life experience under her belt. There is meaness in her life and there is love. There is hope and disappointment. She is growing up. And that is a hard thing to do. This novel portrays that. This does not have a saccharin happy ending of a romance novel. And it is that much better for it. It does, however, have an ending full of hope. You know Katherine will go on and make something great out of her life. And, indeed, that's exactly what she does (if you read the sequel). In some ways this book is not quite young adult and not quite what one thinks of as adult fiction, either. It's in between. It's about an adolescent girl, but it is written for adult audiences - perhaps it was originally intended for people in their late teens and early 20s. I don't think I would suggest it for someone very young. But for an older teenager or any age adult, this is a delightful novel.
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on January 24, 2002
There really is no plot to this book. Readers who are fans of Ms. L'Engle's youth fiction, like me, should exercise some caution before reading this book. Upon opening the pages, you will not escape into worlds of fantasy where your imagination is challenged with every word. Here, a more realistic story is presented. It is one of Madeleine L'Engle's "adult" books, and it is quite good, if you approach it with the right mindset. The story centers around Katherine Forrester, who has lived her entire life surrounded by artists. Now, these are not necessarily artists in the sense that Monet or Picasso was an artist; they are artistic in the "arts"- music, acting, etc. Of course, artists live in a world that most of us left-brained people cannot quite understand. This novel excellently depicts the life that true artists live. We are given unique insight into Katherine's soul, something rarely found in today's literature. Most times, characterization is ignored for a riveting plot. Katherine Forrester stirs up remembrances of Jane Austen heroines- the girls you actually knew and understood. Katherine is a fabulously flawed character that I completely loved. I felt after I read this book that I had made a new friend and discovered a new world. The book made me think. It's about time I could say that again.
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on May 12, 2005
In general, I love Madeleine L'Engle, and this book is my very favorite that she has written. As a pianist, I was deeply inspired by Katherine's sheer determination and drive. She is a very admirable character, and by the end of the book, I felt like I had made a new friend. I read the book two years ago for the first time, and was amazed at the depth and understanding that Madeleine wrote with--she seemed to fully understand the feelings and struggles of the musician, I felt that I could empathise with Katherine, and to me that is very important in a book. I've started reading it again, and was totally inspired to work and work with my music. I have been going through a dry period with my music and have not felt much like practicing.

Upon reading this book for the seconed time, that has changed. I am now inspired, and have been practicing 3 hours a day. I feel like I am a born again musician. It's a thrill. I recommend this book for everyone who really wants to feel and empathise with a character, and especially for those of you who are musicians or artists.

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on November 27, 2013
It is not my usual book choice but it was on our book club list. I tried to read it but I couldn't get into it. It is disconnected in its telling. It is like five stories being told at the same time. You are sure how they are connected. I got to page 65 before I gave up.

Others may like but I didn't.
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on November 27, 1997
The Small Rain was Madeleine L'Engle's first book, and it contains many of the elements which would be developed further in later books: continent-hopping teen whose unusual creativity and family background alienate her from her peers and from the ordinary adults who oversee them; unavailable parents whose very absence somehow communicates a kind of trust which she takes as emotional support; a breakthrough that validates the protagonist. In The Small Rain, much of Katherine's life is either heartbreaking or bleak, but there is a hauntingly sweet evening at a carnival in provincial France which this reader found impossible to forget.
A Severed Wasp -- which is not on the database -- picks up Katherine's story about 50 years later, and I can't praise it highly enough. The motifs of the original book are woven beautifully into the sequel, and the carnival returns in a pivotal scene which left me gasping -- literally. L'Engle fans MUST NOT miss these two books.
For those who like to mix up their arts, I recommend that after reading these books, you listen to "Spring Comes to Wiesenthal," from Friedmann's recording Legends of Light(Narada). If ever a book was put to music, this is it.
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on February 28, 2003
this ranks as one of my favorite books of all time and definitely something i'd recommend to any females out there. basically it's a coming of age book, sans your typical judy bloom-like horror stories. katherine, the main character, is being raised by her composer-father who is neglectful if not anything else, and her step-mother-actress. the book chronicles the different phases she goes through as she reaches her adulthood. i thought it was very well written (as tends to be my opinion about most l'engle books) and i immediately liked the character. the only drawback that i found to this book is that l'engle later wrote a sequel to it (a severed wasp) which excited me greatly when i finished this book as i didn't want the story to end. but instead of finding the same katherine that i had enjoyed in the first book, i found a much older version that liked to solve mysteries and was a little full of herself. at any rate, the small rain is definitely a must-read.....especially for females in their teenage years.
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on January 22, 1999
This is seriously one of the most beautiful books I have ever read. I've been a fan of Madeleine L'Engle's writing since 6th grade. I'm in 9th grade now, and I've just started reading her adult novels. Before this one, I read "The Other Side of the Sun", which was okay, but not stunning. So, when I started reading this one, I was 100% NOT expecting it to be this good. This book practically hit me in the stomach. I can't believe that this book was a first novel. Nothing else of hers that I've read comes anywhere near being this good - nothing else I've ever read has been anywhere near this good. If you've read any of her young adult books and are considering starting her adult books - PICK THIS ONE. It is absolutely incredible.
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