Becoming Madeleine: A Biography of the Author of A Wrinkle in Time by Her Granddaughters

by Charlotte Jones Voiklis

Hardcover, 2018



Local notes

921 L'en



Farrar, Straus and Giroux (BYR) (2018), 176 pages


This middle-grade biography explores the life and works of Madeleine L'Engle --written by her granddaughters. This elegant and insightful biography of Madeleine L'Engle (1918-2007) was written by her granddaughters, Charlotte Jones Voiklis and Léna Roy. Using never-before-seen archival materials that include photographs, poems, letters, and journal entries from when Madeleine was a child until just after the publication of her classic,A Wrinkle in Time, her granddaughters weave together an in-depth and unique view of the famous writer. It is a story of overcoming obstacles--a lonely childhood, financial insecurity, and countless rejections of her writing--and eventual triumph.Becoming Madeleine will speak not only to fans of the icon's work, but also to anyone interested in writing. This title has Common Core connections.… (more)


Original language


Physical description

176 p.; 6.38 inches


0374307644 / 9780374307646



User reviews

LibraryThing member Lisa2013
Highly recommended to all fans of Madeleine L'Engle's books, to young people who have specific goals, especially if they want to be writers or artists or have aspirations to succeed in a particular field or endeavor. This book is a gift to fans of her books. Children and teens who have passion for writing will be particularly interested in this biography. I also recommend this to readers who’ve had an important grandchildren-grandparent bond because that part of the story clearly comes through too.

I inhaled this book in less than 2 days. It’s a book I wish I could own.

I have loved this author since I was 9 years old and read Meet the Austins/Meet the Austins published two years earlier, and A Wrinkle in Time newly published that year. Those two books helped me get through my childhood and have never been off my top 10 list and that is saying a great deal. Despite being a huge fan of many of her books, and researching many people throughout my lifetime, for some reason I’d never made a point to learn much about her life. Readers can glean a lot about her early years without reading a biography. It’s obvious just from reading her books that she must have commonalities with Meg, with Vicky, with Camilla, with Flip, but this book gives details and they were so much fun to learn. She also wrote autobiographical works of her later years, but I’ve read just one or two.

Now I’d like to read even more about her, but this book was extremely satisfying. The authors, her two granddaughters, deliberately chose to cover her life only up to the point of the publication of A Wrinkle in Time, and given that the book is written for middle grade readers, I think it was a sound decision, but now as an older adult I’d enjoy an account of her entire life, more than what she revealed in her writings.

The photos and journal entries and letters, all the materials were wonderful to see. Marvelous for fans to have access to these things!

I was impressed with what an accomplished person she was!

I will say that some of the images of her early poems, letters, and journal entries were so tiny on the pages that I needed a magnifying glass to read some of their text. It was well worth the effort to do that.

Bonus points from me: Not too far into this book I realized something about my own parents, similar to Madeleine’s in one way, and so I learned a bit about my life too.

The book is well written and very well organized, and I appreciate that this account shows Madeleine as a well-rounded person, with many positive attributes and with flaws too, and shows happy and difficult events in her life. I appreciated the Epilogue and Author’s Note at the end of the book. Though some tragedies are mentioned along with her triumphs, I do think the book is suitable for middle grade kids and adolescents and adults can enjoy it too. I certainly did, maybe even more than I would have as a young person. I was completely engrossed while reading this.

It was incredibly hard for me to write a review for this book because I knew I couldn’t do it justice. I’ve never been able to write proper reviews for any of this author’s books; as usual, it’s hardest for me to write reviews for books I’ve loved the most.

And now I want to reread her books all over again and read ones I haven’t yet read. L’Engle was a prolific author.

Since this is a biography these aren’t spoilers in the traditional sense but I think it would be most satisfying for readers to read this information in the book proper, so I’m putting the rest of the review in spoiler tags:

I LOVE this quote (on page 79) from a journal entry she wrote while in college: “I made a discovery yesterday. I don’t suppose it’s an original sort of discovery at all, but at any rate, I found it for myself. When you write anything – a poem or a story – it’s yours only as long as only you know anything about it. As soon as anybody reads it, it becomes partly theirs, too. They put things into it that you never thought of, and they don’t see many things that you thought plain.” (If only every author understood this.)

Wow! Now I know from where she gets the store from in the Meet the Austins book.

It’s so funny re the recent AWIT movie which I’m unlikely to see despite a great choice of actress for Meg – I’ve been saying it should have been unknowns for the Mrs Whatsit & Co (and not Oprah, Reese, Mindy) because the book is about Meg, and Charles Wallace, and Calvin, not about the Mrss and too much attention is being paid to them in the movie trailers, so it was fascinating to see her working title for A Wrinkle in Time.

I actually was going to add a lot more parts of the book that particularly struck me, but I’m hoping that readers will read the book for themselves.
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(15 ratings; 3.4)
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