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Two-Part Invention: The Story of a Marriage

August 9, 2007

I just finished the most beautiful, poignant book I’ve ever read on the topic of marriage. Actually it’s a memoir by Madeline L’Engle, of A Wrinkle in Time fame. It this book she traces the history of her relationship of her husband, painting memories of their meeting, courtship, and early marriage against the backdrop of her husband’s fight against cancer. You easily find yourself with the “present” Madeline in cold hospital rooms while she supports Hugh, her husband, or with the “past” Madeline who is young and vibrant, meeting her husband for the first time in the New York City theater scene.

Yet, despite the presence of cancer, it is not a sad book. It is a joyous celebration of their life together.

The book is tied together in structure by the metaphor of music. Sections are divided into “Prelude” and “Interlude.” When he proposed, Hugh quoted to Madeline:

“Music I heard with you was more than music, and bread I broke with you was more than bread.”

This mindset characterized their marriage.

I could have pulled a number of quotes to share, but this one I found especially touching, partly because I struggled with this concept before I married. By marrying I was opening myself up to the possibility of great pain. Would it be worth it? I have found that it has been. It was worth it for Madeline too:

“Vulnerable–the moment we are born we are vulnerable, and a human infant is the most vulnerable of all creatures. The very nature of our being leads us to risk.
When I married I opened myself to the possibility of great joy and great pain and I have known both. Hugh’s death is like an amputation. But would I be willing to protect myself by having rejected marriage? By having rejected love? No. I wouldn’t have missed a minute of it, not any of it.”

3 Comments leave one →
  1. August 9, 2007 1:40 pm

    Wow! This is something that I think about, and struggle with also! I look forward to many happy memories, but often forget that there will be pain as well. What a great quote – thanks!

  2. August 9, 2007 2:38 pm

    this definitely makes me want to read the book! thanks 🙂

  3. Ashleigh permalink
    August 13, 2007 8:30 pm

    I’m going to put this on my list of books to read.

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