A Ring of Endless Light: Understanding a Book I Love

I recently reread A Ring of Endless Light by Madeleine L’Engle for an MFA essay. I love to revisit this book. I’ve read it so much it’s literally split down the middle with only Scotch tape to keep it in one piece. I can’t remember how old I was when I first read it, but I remember going through it over and over again. I can still see the crease marks from when I used to dog-ear the pages.

The very obvious theme of this book is death, but I don’t think I realized that until there was a made-for-TV Disney movie coming out. The commercials went on an on about saving dolphins, which enraged me. While dolphins are a big part of the story, there aren’t any poachers in the book. It wasn’t until a movie was being made with an absence of this theme that I understood what I’d been reading for all those years. So I can be thankful for that, at least. (I never watched the movie, by the way.)

Another thing that’s interesting about this book and me is that, even though A Ring of Endless Light is technically the fourth book in the Austin Family series, I’ve only ever read the sequel to this one, Troubling a Star, and that only once. A Ring of Endless Light stands well enough on it’s own, so I didn’t realize for a long while that there was anything else to read about Vicky Austin. I wonder now, if I had read the first 3 books before this one, if I would have loved it as much.

Understanding the book better colors it differently when I read it now, but I still get a satisfied enjoyment out of it. I’ll always go back to it, and maybe when this copy finally disintegrates I’ll buy a new copy for my own kids. And who knows, maybe someday I’ll read the rest of the books.

Do you have a book you’ve read again and again? Or a book you didn’t understand fully until much later?

2 thoughts on “A Ring of Endless Light: Understanding a Book I Love

  1. One book I’ve reread many times is Rosemary Sutcliff’s The Lantern Bearers. It’s superb historical fiction, ostensibly for young adults but really meant for everyone, set in Dark Age Britain, just before the alleged Arthurian era. Really great stuff. Also The Fellowship of the Ring, The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe, and other works by Tolkien and Lewis.

    I haven’t read this book by L’Engle yet, but I’ve reviewed the first three of her Murry family series. Very good books. I look forward to reading more of her.

    • I love those books, too. I wasn’t as big of a fan of the last two in the series, though. another book I’d like to read is Arm of the Starfish, which has Adam from A Ring of Endless Light and Dr. Calvin O’Keefe =)

      L’Engle is one of my favorite authors, and I’m endlessly sad that I’ve never had the chance to meet her.

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