Thursday, February 2, 2012

A Wrinkle in Time - Mrs Who

A Wrinkle in Time is a book that's transcended time. It's fifty years old but is still widely read and referenced. In fact, many dystopian books that you read today are inspired by Madeleine L'Engle's planets and worlds. There's a town in A Wrinkle in Time where everyone is perfectly synchronized to a schedule: everything is done at the same time every day, always perfectly. A planet that is made out of paper. Worlds that are beautiful and scary and weird - this book flips through them like a public mirror in its reflection of faces.

And what's so great about A Wrinkle in Time is that the characters who see these worlds are completely memorable. One of my favorites, who I'm going to be focusing on today, is Mrs. Who.

I like the mystery about her. More than her sisters, Mrs. Whatsit and Mrs.Which, she is unreadable and curious. She uses other's words, in quotations and cliches, rather than her own. She speaks through other's sayings. In French, German, Latin, Greek, she moves throughout languages like a verbal dancer. You don't ever really know who she is, because she quotes Shakespeare instead of answering a question, which is an answer but only in cryptic terms. In that way, you can get a glimpse of who she is by the quotes and phrases she uses, but not fully. She's a mystery, and I love a character you have to keep guessing about.

I think that's partially the reason her name is what it is, because you want to know who she is, and because she's apparently an ironic tease, she names herself after that fact.

Mrs. Who wears these spectacles, which are talked about several times in the book. This is also part of her character, because she essentially sees through other eyes both in her words and in her vision.

"Suddenly two eyes seemed to spring at them out of the darkness; it was the moonlight striking on Mrs Who's glasses." Like an owl, that one. If the three W sisters were menacing, Mrs. Who would be the scariest, because her character is so unpredictably creepy. Her weapon of choice would be knitting needles.

But the W's are more helpful, mysterious narrators than monsters. They help the characters through the journey, and are even the start and end of that journey, so they keep the plot running while you and the main characters experience it.

Mrs. Who is probably the most elusive character in this book, but that's why she's so intriguing. Even though she uses other's words instead of her own, she has a lot to say.


The 50th Anniversary edition of A Wrinkle in Time is in stores now, and it includes a lot of extras if you want to revisit the story. It has photos, L'Engle's acceptance speech, letters from authors, and more. This post is part of the 50 Years, 50 Days, 50 Blogs Tour, and you can check out the other stops on the tour here, through the A Wrinkle in Time facebook page.


  1. Mrs. Who has always been my to Meg. I have read every one of Madeleine L'Engle's books, many several times. She is my comfort book just like comfort food - probably one of my other favorites is Glimpses of Grace.

  2. My favorite was always Calvin. He suddenly finds himself belonging to this odd group of people, but instantly sees how wonderful they are.

    I may have to buy this. I love the new cover.

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  3. I'm kinda not surprised you liked Mrs. Who - a character shaped by language! My fave was always Meg, for whom the main character in my first novel was named. :)

    1. Pretty good post! I just stumbled upon your blog and wanted to say that I have really enjoyed reading your blog posts. Any way I'll be subscribing to your feed and I hope you post again soon:-X

  4. Sad to say, A Wrinkle in Time is just one of those classics I never got around to reading. Criminal offense, I know, but it just never made it's way off the library shelf and into my hands. Never to late to check out a classic though, so I might go and find out just what everyone loves so much about this book.


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