Memoirs are about recounting and processing different of life. I appreciate that L’Engle has four different memoirs that are themed. I do not know of any other author that has done this. The first is about being a writer, mother, teacher and creative person. The second is about her own mother and the grief she feels at her decline. The third is about her faith using the liturgical year and a method of organizing.
And Two-Part Invention is about her marriage to Hugh. All of these books are really about Madeleine of course. But we are created by our interactions and integration with others. Marriage impacts us because it is a relationship of choice that at its best is for a lifetime.
There is a lot of background on Madeleine before her marriage. And the years between meeting Hugh and the current story she is telling. The story main story is about Hugh’s dying. I suppose that is a spoiler, but he died over 30 years ago. It is a remembrance and dealing with grief. Marriage, when not interrupted through divorce, is ultimately interrupted by death. That is the normal way of life.
The death matters because in some ways this is reminiscent of CS Lewis’ A Grief Observed. The grief here is a bit more distant. It isn’t quite as much raw pain as Lewis’, but the pain at the end is real. The love all along the path of the story of their marriage matters in large part because of the death means that the marriage has an end.
I continue to appreciate this series of memoirs for its wisdom and its insight into not just L’Engle’s life, but the broader human condition as well.