The Joys of Love
Twenty-year-old Elizabeth Jerrold, an aspiring actress, spends the summer of 1946 as an apprentice with a summer theatre company in a town by the ocean. She has never been so happy in her life—she had dreamed of being an actress since she was a child, and she soon falls in love with Kurt, the company’s handsome director. But her happiness is shattered when she realizes that Kurt does not love her as much as she loves him. Meanwhile, Ben, another apprentice, loves her, but she treats him only as a friend. In addition to these romantic complications, Elizabeth is disappointed when her role in Macbeth is taken away from her because of the machinations of a jealous older actress. And, her Aunt Harriet, who has raised her after the death of her father, has always opposed her wish to be an actress and demands that she come home before the summer is over. Eventually, Elizabeth uses her experiences over the summer to learn more about the theatre and life—and herself.
I have been a fan of Madeline L’Engle since I was a child, and was glad to see one more book of hers published after her recent death. As her granddaughter reveals in the introduction, this is actually a very early work of L’Engle’s which went unpublished for many years, and it is probably the most autobiographical of her novels. It was a pleasure to read. L’Engle gives us a very sensitive portrait of life in a summer theatre company, with all the friendships and rivalries between the actors, and it is an excellent coming-of-age story. I am only sorry that this is her last book. Ages 12 and up.