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on 24 August 2015
It’s taken me a little while to actually process this book. It certainly wasn’t what I expected. When I read the back, I was pretty disappointed with the selection; it sounded as though it was going to be a very shallow love triangle (square?) type of novel, aimed at mid teens. Why is this a classic? I wondered. Also was disappointed that it was number four in a series – why not set the first one? I wondered whether it was such a classic, that I was assumed to have read the others or something. I’ll admit, I wasn’t originally happy with the selection!

Well. It was unexpected. I’ve never read anything like it, that’s for sure. It was a very curious mix of seemingly shallow teenage things (boys etc), dolphins, and very, very deep and philosophical thought processes. When I finished, I needed a while to just sit quietly. For an MG read, it is saturated in death. The book seems to be about the line between life and death, and the very many forms of death around us – Vicky’s grandfather, Leo’s father, Jed’s family, the baby dolphin, the swallows, Zachary’s attitude, Binnie. It is SO heavy. I didn’t read this as a teenager, but I imagine teens might find it just too hard.

I found the characters’ ages in general very difficult. I know Vicky was supposed to be a mature fifteen year old, but it didn’t feel real to me: she was so much older. Her thought processes, beliefs, feelings of responsibility – these are not those of a fifteen year old. Then, the age gap with Adam was creepy; I thinkVicky should have just been seventeen or eighteen and it would have made everything so much better! I related to her, but actually on a mostly adult level. Her confidence in her sexual self with the three boys was incredibly impressive.

More on the romances. They didn’t seem to be all that important to me, actually. There was so much else packed into this novel, that they seemed sort of superfluous. Does anyone else experience that? Leo barely got a look in, so why bother including him? We already had a connection to his family through his mother nursing Grandfather. Adam and Vicky’s relationship would have worked better on a platonic level, and Zacahary… well. I didn’t ‘get’ him. (Nor did I like him very much). I wouldn’t have minded if he’d been axed. The level of maturity in all of them just didn’t feel real; having so much independence, going swimming, to posh meals, out in boats, in planes, on bikes. Very different to my own childhood, but that might be circumstantial. Anyway, I think I would have preferred this book without the romances (although Adam is so lovely!), hope this isn't too unpopular to say!

So. Dolphins. I have heard this aspect referred to as sci-fi; that made it sit easier for me. But, apart from the communication, it was purely wonderful! Who can complain about lovely descriptions of beautiful and intelligent creatures in their home environment? Sighs. Very nice. Wish I could swim with dolphins/be a marine biologist/live on an island/live my life again to have these things. Ah well.

I didn’t find the religious aspect at all preach-y and I’m a devout atheist, usually quite sensitive to that sort of thing. I just loved the Austin family. Reading en masse: Shakespeare and the metaphysical poets, singing, meals together. What a wonderful family! And I loved Grandfather’s ‘sermon’ (if you want to call it that) about only bearing one’s own crosses. It’s true. Take out the religious connotation and it is universally applicable.

Still not sure what I make of it as a whole. (Don’t hate me!) The mix of romance, growing up, death, and sci-fi dolphins was so unexpected and strange, and I’m not 100% sure it worked. However, a very very thought provoking read. As I said, I couldn’t move after the ending. It was deeply affecting for me, whether I thought it was an overall ‘good’ book or not.
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on 14 March 2003
When I was younger, The Ring Of Endless Light was my absolute, unquestioned favorite book; it deals with so much stuff that, at the age of about 12 or so, begins to suddenly penetrate- death, love, basic astrophysics... It is a wonderfully varied book, showing how life can be dealt with both from a religous and scientific viewpoint, but does not preach either. It's plot is appealing, interesting and embroiling, and the central character, Vicky Austin, is very human in her foibles, which lets the reader further empathise. Overall a lovely, thought provoking and exceptionally enjoyable book that I would reccomend to any pre-teen who has an interest in things slightly beyond the ordinary.
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on 5 March 2016
Part of any enjoyable series with heartwarming family spiritual values - really for youngsters but adults in need of therapy will enjoy too!
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on 12 August 2002
This book is one of those that can gently sort your head out when you are feeling confused about life. It uses a mixture of 'real-life' and fantasy to describe the latest part of Vicky's life, where she is trying to come to terms with the sudden and unexpected loss of a family friend and the slow deterioration of her grandfather. Added to all this is the usual teenage confusion about boys and other such growing up issues.
I first read this book when I was a young teenager, now I am in my mid-twenties, and it is still a book I come back to time and again to put perspective back on life. I cannot recommend this book enough!!
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on 2 April 2001
I remember reading 'A Ring Of Endless Light' at least 10 times as a young adult, on my way to gobbling up all the stories about Vicky Austin and her family that Madelaine L'Engle wrote. This is a superb novel to give any young adult, particularly one who might be struggling to come to terms with the death of a loved one.
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on 1 July 2011
I don't know this book but is frequently cited as including verse purporting to be by Sir Thomas Browne. However Browne did not write the verse beginning 'If thou couldst empty thyself......etc. etc.
So therefore I rate this book, more precisely its author as very low as the citing of verse by sir Thomas Browne is quite simply untrue.
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