A Live Coal in the Sea
I have been a fan of Madeleine L'Engle's since the moment I read the first sentence of Wrinkle in Time ("It was a dark and stormy night."), when I was about 10. I have read almost every book of hers I could get my hands on, and she has influenced my life and thought more than probably any other author.
So, when I was browsing in the library, and saw A Live Coal in the Sea, I decided to check it out. I was delighted to find, from reading the inner flap, that it concerned Camilla Dickinson, the heroine of an earlier L'engle book (Camilla: and be sure to read Camilla before Live Coal: otherwise the characters are a little harder to get used to. Camilla is a short, easy read). I began reading the book one night, thinking to start it and read until I got sleepy, then finish it in the morning.
I finished it, wiping away tears, at 2:30 am.
L'Engle is a powerful writer, but she is rarely in such amazing form. I don't think I have ever seen a clearer portrait of the grief that one person's selfishness and sin can cause to a family over several generations, nor a clearer picture of the grace and mercy of God in transforming such a situation.
The title comes from a quote from a source whose name I do not remember: “All the evil that man has ever conceived or done is no more to the mercy of God than a live coal to the sea.”