Form and Content

(Survey of Young Adult Fiction)

Like many of Madeleine L’Engle’s novels for young people, A House Like a Lotus is written in the first person, as though it were a series of journal entries or an account told to a friend. There are no chapters as such, but the story alternates between the past and the present. A House Like a Lotus begins with Polly O’Keefe writing in her journal as she sits in Constitution Square in Athens, Greece. Within the first few pages, L’Engle draws the reader into the story, hinting that Polly is hurting emotionally, but not specifying the problem. The narration jumps backward to Polly’s journey to Athens, backward again to the day that Max asked her if she would like to spend three weeks as a gofer at a conference in Cyprus, and finally backward once more to the day that Polly was introduced to Max. From this beginning, the narration alternates between Polly’s activities in Greece and, later, in Osia Theola, Cyprus, and focuses on the story of her friendship with Max.

Polly meets Maximiliana “Max” Horne at Christmas, when her Uncle Sandy introduces her to his old friend, who has come to live for the winter in her family mansion, Beau Allaire, fifteen miles from Polly’s home on Benne Seed Island. Polly and Max quickly become friends; the older woman needs the companionship that Polly provides, and Polly needs the intellectual stimulus that Max is able to give. Polly quickly becomes the child that Max could not have, and, in...

(The entire section is 598 words.)


(Survey of Young Adult Fiction)

Bloom, Harold, ed. Women Writers of Children’s Literature. Philadelphia: Chelsea House, 1998.

Chase, Carole F. Suncatcher: A Study of Madeleine L’Engle and Her Writing. Philadelphia: Innisfree Press, 1998.

Hein, Rolland. Christian Mythmakers: C. S. Lewis, Madeleine L’Engle, J. R. Tolkien, George MacDonald, G. K. Chesterton, Charles Williams, Dante Alighieri, John Bunyan, Walter Wangerin, Robert Siegel, and Hannah Hurnard. Chicago: Cornerstone Press, 2002.

Hettinga, Donald R. Presenting Madeleine L’Engle. New York: Twayne, 1993.

Shaw, Luci, ed. The Swiftly Tilting Worlds of Madeleine L’Engle. Wheaton, Ill.: Harold Shaw, 1998.