Saturday, 28 January 2012

Jo, Meg or Amy?

It was never a question for me - I would only ever want to be tempestuous, ambitious, boyish Jo March (and I still haven't forgiven her for turning Laurie down and going off with boring old Mr Bhaer).

It's the 50th anniversary this year of Madeleine L'Engle's A Wrinkle in Time, and Pamela Paul opens an article in the NYTimes about the wonderful Meg Murray by noting that:

Bookish girls tend to mark phases of their lives by periods of intense literary character identification. Schoolgirls of the ’70s had their Deenie and Sally J. Freedman and Margaret moments, muddling through adolescence in the guise of one Judy Blume heroine or another. And for almost a century and a half, girls have fluctuated between seasons of Amy and Meg and Jo March, imagining themselves alternately with blond corkscrew curls, eldest sister wisdom or writerly ambitions. 
Paul investigates how A Wrinkle in Time gave girls an unusual role model: a science fiction heroine, a girl who combined mathematical abilities with fierce family loyalty. Although I enjoyed the book, A Wrinkle in Time never captured by heart: however, one of my favourite books of recent years, Rebecca Stead's When You Reach Me, is a kind of love letter to L'Engle's work, taking her themes of time travel, loss and love and weaving a new story set in 1970s New York, and with Miranda as a Meg for the contemporary reader.

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