A Live Coal In The Sea

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9780060652869: A Live Coal In The Sea

Madeleine L'Engle's first adult novel in four years -- now in paperback! With 23,000 copies sold since May 1996, this "haunting domestic drama" (Publishers Weekly) examines the powers of faith and mercy in one family's confrontation with a legacy of evil.

Best known for A Wrinkle in Time -- the children's classic that has sold more than 2 million copies since 1962 -- Madeleine L'Engle is as adept at exploring faith and human experience as she is at spinning fascinating, fantastic tales. Now this masterful storyteller blends her two passions and offers an engrossing new story to delight her devoted audience.

When Dr. Camilla Dickinson's teenage granddaughter confronts her with the disquieting question of whether Camilla is, in fact, her grandmother, long-kept secrets rise to the surface to test the faith, love and loyalty of the Xanthakos family. This skillful, gripping tale shuttles between past and troubled present, providing clues to a multigenerational mystery -- clues that begin to focus on Camilla's son, the deeply troubled TV idol Artaxias, and on Camilla's mother, the irresistibly beautiful and adulterous Rose. Though riveting and psychologically complex, A Live Coal in the Sea is "infused with the warmth of love and mercy" (Booklist), showcasing the keen eye and deep compassion that have made L'Engle one of this century's premier writers on faith and its place in human experience.

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About the Author:

Madeline L'Engle, the popular author of many books for children and adults, has interspersed her writing and teaching career with raising three children, maintaining an apartment in New York and a farmhouse of charming confusion which is called "Crosswicks."

From Kirkus Reviews:

Explosive family secrets are defused by love, wisdom, and a foreshadowed revelation, in this latest intricately plotted adult novel by L'Engle (Certain Women, 1992, etc.). When granddaughter Raffi asks Camilla whether she really is her grandmother, Camilla (a distinguished astronomer) knows it's time to tell the truth. But the truth is complex; the telling will take time. Raffi's visits to hear the story alternate with Camilla's own memories and the emotions they arouse. The young Camilla Dickinson, upset by her philandering mother Rose's affair with Camilla's favorite professor, Red Grange, had been comforted by her college's Episcopalian chaplain, Mac Xanthakos. The two soon fell in love, but Mac had his own problems and ran off to Kenya to do missionary work. After he returned, they became lovers, and Camilla, along with Mac's wise, loving parents Olivia and Art, helped him wrestle with the demons that had been driving him. Camilla and Mac married and then moved to Georgia, where Camilla continued her studies while trying to be the model rector's wife. Their happiness, though, was brief: First, Rose, in Paris with long-suffering husband Rafferty Dickinson, announced she was pregnant; then, when Camilla herself was pregnant, Rose was killed in an accident, leaving behind baby Artaxias--Taxi--who turned out not to be Dickinson's son after all. Camilla and Mac raise Taxi as their own, along with their own daughter, Frankie, but poor Taxi, who grows up to be a soap-opera star, must endure profoundly troubling questions about his identity before Camilla can finally answer Raffi's question. The answer is a long foreshadowed revelation--a ``mercy, a live coal that did not need to be dropped into the sea, but could flame quietly, and by which they could warm themselves.'' A fast-paced story that, though weighted with the usual L'Engle explorations of faith and science, seems ultimately thin and contrived. -- Copyright ©1996, Kirkus Associates, LP. All rights reserved.

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