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Certain Women Hardcover – Import, 1 October 1992
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- Publisher : Farrar Straus & Giroux (1 October 1992)
- Language : English
- ISBN-10 : 0374120250
- ISBN-13 : 978-0374120252
- Item Weight : 658 g
- Dimensions : 15.88 x 2.54 x 23.5 cm
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In this case, that world isn't a far-off planet, but the insular sphere of a dying man and his wives, children and friends. While L'Engle delves into this extended family's rich, tragic and messy history, she also sheds new light on another complex man and his "messy" family, this one familiar to readers of the Old Testament.
The aging actor David Wheaton, spending his last days on his beloved boat the Portia with his ninth wife and Emma, his grown daughter, wishes to gather his far-flung family, including his five surviving children and a couple of his former wives, before he takes his final curtain call. While those on the Portia wait for the others' arrival, David and Emma discuss the one stage role he always coveted and never got to play: the Biblical King David. The parallels between the two Davids' lives and families are striking, and in some instances the Biblical story hits painfully close to home for Emma and her father.
As Anita Diamant did in The Red Tent, in Certain Women L'Engle imagines the lives and personalities of characters barely mentioned in Scriptural accounts. Through Emma and David's discussions, as well as in the pages of an unfinished play based on King David's story, the children and especially the wives of the king spring vividly to life.
The title is an allusion to Luke 24:22, "Certain women made us astonished," and the insights L'Engle provides both into the fictional Wheaton family and the David saga are at times astonishing indeed. What is perhaps more astonishing are L'Engle's observations on the nature of sin, redemption, and the way God often chooses faulty, flawed and complicated human beings to do His greatest work. As L'Engle's characters put it, King David saw himself as an ordinary man who had sinned, and that's when he truly began to love God. Perhaps, they suggest, we have to sin, to know ourselves human, before there is any possibility of greatness.
I recommend Certain Women for its compelling family drama as well as for its thought-provoking discussions of spirituality and the human condition, but don't be surprised if these faulty, flawed and astonishing characters--both Davids and their loved ones--linger in your mind for years afterward. They certainly have in mine.