Have you ever finished a novel and found yourself completely unable to forget the world the writer created?
When I started to read “Glory and the Lightning” by Taylor Caldwell, I did not know what to expect. I was impressed this writer’s gift with her riveting prose. But after reading the book, I understood about the rise and fall of civilizations, and the customs and culture of Ancient Greece. That book spurred me to read her other works and since then I’ve discovered her other novels. My favorites are “Captains and the Kings: A Prologue to Love” and “Answer As A Man.”
Captains and the Kings is a family saga surrounding Joseph Francis Xavier, an Irish immigrant who rose to wealth and power in America during the late nineteenth and early 20th century. Though, his wealth and power do not prevent constant misfortune from visiting his family.
Janet Miriam Hollander Taylor Caldwell was born September 7, 1900, in England, dying August 30, 1985 in the U.S. Her family immigrated in 1907. She wrote her first novel, “Romance of Atlantis” at the age of 12, and published her first book “Dynasty of Death” in 1938. She wrote a total of 43 novels throughout her life. She also wrote under the pen name Marcus Holland and Max Reiner.
Back in 1980, I read Atlas Shrugged by Ayn Rand. From its opening pages, her magnificent writing drew me into a carefree idyllic world of the Taggart family. As adults they face a world which is changing and increasing bureaucratic regulations made Dagny’s job of Vice President for Taggart Transcontinental difficult. The company President, James, unquestioningly obeys government restrictions, while Dagny crosses the country looking for people of integrity who have all but disappeared. As the last page of this novel ends, we ask, “What is going to happen to the world if the people of ability leave it?”
Rand was born in Russia in 1905, emigrating to the U.S. in 1926. Her novels, “We the Living,” “Anthem,” and “Fountainhead” were published in the 1940s and “Atlas Shrugged,” her masterpiece, was published in 1957, which remains in print today because of its timeless appeal. The worlds she created in her novels are unforgettable, and while her ultra-conservative views may not appeal to everyone, her talent as a writer cannot be disputed.
Another of my favorite authors, Madeleine L’Engle, wrote “A Wrinkle In Time,” which won the 1962 Newberry Award for young adult literature. The book has an alluring quality of love, innocence, and adventure, capturing the hearts of both children and adults.
The book centers around two families in Connecticut– as the Murry’s and O’Keith’s visit a haunted house on an autumn afternoon and three angelic beings and a medium shepherd them across the universe.
This novel has four sequels–”A Wind in the Door,” written in 1973; “A Swiftly Tilting Planet,” written in 1978; “Many Waters,” written in 1986; and “An Acceptable Time,” written in 1989.
Madeleine L’Engle was born November 18, 1918, in New York, dying 2007 in Litchfield, Connecticut. She wrote many young adult books, poetry, and a memoir, in addition to her famous series in which she painted a world that transcended imagination.
The power of literature is in its ability to take you to magical places and times and teach you about the world, and even, in some instances, about yourself.
What books have stuck with you through the years? Let us hear about them in the Reader’s Forum.