Friday, September 03, 2010

And Both Were Young

L'Engle, Madeleine. And Both Were Young.
Pictures in the library yesterday made it impossible for me to see many students-- t hey literally could not get in! I read book reviews all day and reserved almost 50 items from my local library. I was very surprised to see that Farrar Straus and Giroux issued a new edition in 2010. The book was originally published in 1949, and L'Engle updated the story in 1983, which is the copy I was able to pull from my library shelves.

Flip's (Phillipa) father is a famous artist who travels the globe; her mother passed away in an auto accident a year ago. At the insistence of a female friend (who also jaunts around Europe regularly), Flip is sent to a boarding school in Switzerland. Always quiet and withdrawn, and now suffering from the separation from her family, Flip finds it hard to fit in with the girls, but meets Paul, who is staying with his father not far from the school, and the two have a tentative romance. Flip takes up skiing, finds a flair for drawing, and slowly comes to terms with the current state of her life.

This has to be pushed as historical fiction-- Paul has been adopted because he was found abandoned after "the war", and his parents have been killed in the concentration camps. One girl lost her front teeth in the Blitz. This is based on L'Engle's own experiences during this period of time. The note about the update mentions that the 1949 version was much tamer in regards to mentions of death and sex, but 1983 standards are still miles away from what is acceptable today, and students will not blink over the few chaste kisses or the mention that the father's girlfriends "lust" after the father, which seemed a strange interpolation.

I doubt I would buy a new copy of this, but I'll certainly hold on to my old copy, even though it doesn't see a lot of circulation.


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