L'Engle begins this sustaining memoir with scences from her own unorthodox childhood, then contrasts them with the standard heartland variety husband Hugh Franklin enjoyed, but what occupies center stage here are his intense, progressive bout with bladder cancer and their flinty responses and pained accommodatings until his death last year. Madeleine met and married actor Hugh Franklin in her 20s, just after A Small Rain appeared in 1945. They bought Crosswicks, the Connecticut property central to A Circle of Quiet, raised a family, and pursued their separate careers--after years on the stage, he worked as Dr. Charles Tyler on TV's All My Children. L'Engle's recollections of those years offer a welcome balance to the grim home and hospital sequences that come to dominate her thoughts as Hugh's condition worsens. A large circle of friends and family participate in the sickbed rituals and share the L'Engles' serial decisions until, as one procedure after another fails to restore his health, Hugh insists that "This is really one thing too many." Ultimately, they face the always onerous task of preparing to say good-bye. Franklin's doctor laments, "One domino fell over another." Those who treasure Lael Wertenbaker's classic Death of a Man or, more recently, Gerda Lerner's A Death of One's Own will find that L'Engle travels through some of the same interior landscapes; her familiar spiritual leanings--at one point, she considers exorcism--may appeal to others: and her memories of her and Hugh's early years together with friends like Jean and Walter Kerr add to the outreach.