1. What was the first [Alcott, Lewis, L'Engle] book you read?
Alcott: Little Women, probably. I was in a play based on the first few chapters of the book when I was in fifth grade. I was Jo.
Lewis: The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe. I don’t associate anything special with reading this book, but I’m sure I started with the first Narnia book.
L’Engle: A Wrinkle in Time.
2. If you could be a [Alcott, Lewis, L'Engle] character for a day, who would you be?
Alcott: I’d be grown-up Jo with the big house and all the boys running in and out.
Lewis: Lucy, of course, having tea with Mr. Tumnus.
L’Engle: I’d be Katherine Forrester Vigneras playing the piano in the Cathedral of St. John the Divine.
3. Do you prefer [Alcott?, Lewis, L'Engle]‘s fiction or nonfiction?
I always prefer fiction, although C.S. Lewis’s nonfiction apologetics and essays are profound and have been quite influential in my thinking.
4. Which [Alcott, Lewis, L'Engle] book would you recommend to any reader?
Readers of Lewis should start with the Narnia books unless they’re adults with a low tolerance for fantasy. In that case, Mere Christianity is the book for the nonfiction crowd. Eight Cousins is actually my favorite Alcott book, along with an immediate follow-up read of its sequel Rose in Bloom. A Wrinkle in TIme is a good place to start with L’Engle unless again you don’t care for children’s science fiction. In that case, I would suggest A Severed Wasp or A Ring of Endless Light.
5. Which [Alcott, Lewis, L'Engle] book did you dislike?
The Last Battle is my least favorite of the Narnia books, although even that one has some excellent scenes in it. Some of Madeleine L’Engle’s early young adult romances feel a bit dated, but I enjoyed them anyway.
6. What is your favorite [Alcott, Lewis, L'Engle] quote?
Lewis: “A young man who wishes to remain a sound atheist cannot be too careful of his reading. There are traps everywhere–‘Bibles laid open, millions of surprises,’ as Herbert says, ‘fine nets and stratagems.’ God is, if I may say it, very unscrupulous.”
L’Engle: “Love always has meaning. But sometimes only God knows what it is.”
Alcott: “Do the things you know, and you shall learn the truth you need to know.”
7. Which [Alcott, Lewis, L'Engle] book would you like to read next?
I’d like to re-read The Silver Chair, my favorite of the Narnia books. Certain Women by Madeleine L’Engle is an adult novel about the Biblical King David and about a modern-day David, an actor who engages in serial polygamy in about the same way that David of the Bible loved many women and had many wives. I’d like to re-read it, too. No Alcott right now, thank you.
8. What biography of [Alcott, Lewis, L'Engle] would you recommend?
I haven’t read any biographies of Madeleine L’Engle, but I can recommend her autobiographical trilogy that begins with A Circle of Quiet.
For C.S. Lewis, I read Jack: A Life of C.S. Lewis by George Sayer a couple of years ago and thought it was well-written and balanced, not too adulatory nor too negative. (Reviewed here by Carrie at Reading to Know.)
Invincible Louisa by Cornelia Meigs won the Newbery Medal in 1934. I remember thinking it not a bad book at all, but Ms. Meigs’ style and vocabulary are probably too challenging for most children today.
9. Rate the ALL authors by order of preference.
1. C.S. Lewis
Lewis is the best writer and the most profound thinker of the three, the one whose work will stand the test of time. I predict that Mere Christianity, The Screwtape Letters, and Till We Have Faces, in particular, will be read and appreciated a hundred years from now.
Jared at Thinklings: Remembering Jack (2005)
Lars Walker at Brandywine Books: The Feast of St. Jack and The Great Man’s Headgear
Hope at Worthwhile Books reviews Out of the Silent Planet, the first book in Lewis’s space trilogy.
Heidi at Mt. Hope Chronicles writes about her appreciation for the works of C.S. Lewis.
Jollyblogger reviews Lewis’s The Great Divorce.
2. Madeleine L’Engle
Ms. L’Engle is the most likely of the three to have her work become dated. However, the science fiction quartet that begins with A Wrinkle in Time may very well last because it deals with themes that transcend time and localized concerns. And I still like The Love Letters the best of all her books, a wonderful book on the meaning of marriage and of maturity.
In which I invite Madeleine L’Engle to tea in June, 2006, before her death last year.
A Madeleine L’Engle Annotated bibliography.
Semicolon Review of The Small Rain and A Severed Wasp by Madeleine L’Engle.
Semicolon Review of Camilla by Madeleine L’Engle.
My Madeleine L’Engle project, which has languished this year, but I hope to get back to it in 2009.
Sweet Potato reviews A Wrinkle in Time.
Mindy Withrow writes about A Circle of Quiet.
Remembering Madeleine: Obituaries and Remembrances from September, 2007.
3. Louisa May Alcott.
I love reading about Ms. Alcott’s girls and boys even though many people, almost all males and many females, are too jaded and feminist, to enjoy books that celebrate the joys of domesticity and home education.
Circle of Quiet quotes An Old-Fashioned Girl by Louisa May Alcott on the wearing of blue gloves.
Carrie reviews Little Women, after three attempts to get though it.
Framed and Booked liked Eight Cousins the best just as I did.
There you have it: an impromptu celebration of three very fine authors. If you have anything to add, please leave a comment.