CAMILLA by Madeleine L'Engle


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As in her other books, the author has incorporated in her characters a deep concern for matters of the conscience--life and death, God, war, responsibility, love, family relationships. Camilla undergoes a painful process of self reckoning as she approaches maturity from a sheltered youth. She is 15, the age when " lose all the privileges of being a child and get none of the privileges of being grown-up," she lives in New York City, and is the only child of wealthy, loving parents. As the book begins she has already begun to break loose from her protected background--instead of having a governess she attends school, where she has become friendly with Luisa, whose life has always been disrupted by her parents' continual fighting; and she realizes that her mother has a lover. Her initial fury at her parents, sparked by her mother's infidelity and attempted suicide and her father's lack of sympathy, develops into compassionate understanding of her pampered mother's need for affection and her father's inability to be demonstrative. Paralleling her break with her parents is Camilla's first love, as she meets Frank, Luisa's brother. Camilla's separate reactions to her parents are honestly described, and poignantly realized, but then made puzzling as she tries to fit them into the scheme of life in her extended discussions with Frank. The introspective passages are lengthy; while they are obviously sincere they seem more author-imposed than true to character, and the relating of personal problems to abstractions does both less than justice. An earnest, not entirely successful effort, but one that merits selection attention.
Pub Date: Sept. 15th, 1965
ISBN: 0374310319
Page count: 257pp
Publisher: T.Y. Crowell
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1st, 1965


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