So, there’s not much need to write about Twilight. I mean, you all know about Stephanie Meyer’s smash-hit series about Bella, the ordinary girl who moves to Washington State and falls in love with a brooding, handsome, centuries-old vampire named Edward Cullen. You all know about Twilight and New Moon and Eclipse and Breaking Dawn. You know about the romance. And the heartbreak. And the werewolves. And the page-turning suspense. And I’m sure you all know about the movie, which is coming out in theatres tomorrow. This is a photo of Edward from the movie. Some student put him up on my computer as a screen saver recently! Anyway, I know a lot of you are going to see it this weekend, so have fun! Maybe I’ll see you at the theatre.
Life has always been easy for 15-year old Camilla Dickinson. She receives good grades at her private Manhattan high school, visits the MOMA and Central Park on weekends with her best friend Luisa, and is adored by her handsome father and beautiful mother. But nothing perfect can last, including Camilla’s dreamy childhood. Suddenly, things around her start crumbling; her parents begin bickering, her mother falls into a depression, and her father threatens to send Camilla to boarding school. In the midst of this turbulence, Camilla falls in love with Luisa’s older brother Frank. The young couple walks hand-in-hand through the streets of New York, talking about life, family, God, and war. These are the most grown-up days of Camilla’s life, and she wonders if the world around her has really changed, or if she’s only looking at it with new eyes. Once again, Madeleine L’Engle delivers a realistic portrait of what it’s like to be young and waking up to the promises and realities of life. My favorite thing about the novel, though, is its description of 1950’s New York City. How lucky Camilla is to spend her days in nights in such a romantic, exciting place! It made me quite wistful, actually, and sorry that I’ll never get a chance to visit.
This novel, about a small summer theatre in Maine, is absolutely delicious. Elizabeth Jerrold is a 20-year old college graduate trying to fulfill her lifelong dream of becoming an actress. Both her parents are dead, and her guardian — the stern, Southern Aunt Harriet — “doesn’t approve of the theatre.” However, because Elizabeth has completed her Bachelor’s degree at Smith College, as promised, Aunt Harriet agrees to fund her niece’s apprenticeship with a professional company on the New England coast. There, Elizabeth works at the box office, ushers evening performances, takes acting classes, rehearses Chekhov monologues, and feels happier than she ever has in her whole life.
Even though I’m not an actress, I would love to have a summer like Elizabeth’s – living in a cottage with a bunch of zany apprentices, staying out all night on the beach, meeting famous performers, and making lifelong friends. Oh yeah, and there’s a page-turning romantic element to the story that makes you want to shout at Elizabeth – “What are you doing with this guy, when this one is so much nicer and clearly head-over-heels in love with you?”
Madeleine L’Engle wrote this novel when she was a young woman in the 1940’s. She died last year before the book was published. I’m so happy her granddaughters decided to bring this novel forward, finally. It’s a terrific treat. If you haven’t yet experienced the dreamy atmosphere and meandering pace of a Madeleine L’Engle romance, what are you waiting for? You have so much to look forward to!