The Young and the Re-Released
From the writer of A Wrinkle in Time, Madeleine L’Engle, is a novel that is very different from her famous book. And Both Were Young was originally printed in 1949 but only, unfortunately, after it was aggressively edited. In 1983, the original version was published much to L’Engle’s delight. And Both Were Young is not considered sci-fi like A Wrinkle in Time. Rather, I found the book to be more of romance combined with a mystery. And Both Were Young is not your typical romance or your typical mystery mind you. I actually am not that into books that place a heavy emphasis on the romantic element, unless we are talking about the romantic era, so one of the main reasons why I liked this book is because the romance is pretty adorable. The mystery is a part of the plot but not as important as the changes the main character goes through throughout the book.
At the beginning of the book there is an epigraph, a piece of a poem entitled “The Dream” by Lord Byron: “I saw two beings in the hues of youth Standing upon a hill, a gentle hill… And both were young–and one was beautiful.” These lines of poetry are where the book gets its namesake. The book is not arranged in chapters but in six parts. Part one is called “The Prisoner of Chillon” after the poem by Lord Byron.
The story begins post World War II at the chateau of Chillon in Switzerland next to Lake Geneva. The main character’s name is Phillipa Hunter, nicknamed “Flip.” Her father, Philip Hunter, is an artist who is going to be traveling around Europe to paint illustrations of the lost children from the war for a book in the hopes that someone will help them. Phillipa is left at a Swiss boarding school at the recommendation of her father’s new admirer, Eunice Jackman, who is trying to get rid of her. Phillipa’s new boarding school is very strict with many rules the prescribe when you can talk, where you can be, when you have to go to bed and how you have to address the teachers. Phillipa is against the school from the beginning mainly because she would rather be with her father and also because the school was Eunice’s suggestion.
Even before beginning at the school, Philippa already has started a friendship with a boy named Paul Laurens, whom she met at the lake outside the chateau. While attending the school, Phillipa continues her friendship with Paul in secret, sneaking away from the school to meet him at an old abandoned chateau up the mountain. Slowly but surely, their friendship begins to turn into a romance, which they also keep a secret for a little while.
At the school, Phillipa has problems with her classmates because she is quiet and shy. Her classmates decide to tease her with a mean nickname, “Pill.” This abuse continues, and it frustrates Phillipa and Paul, who both come to hate the school.
While at school Philippa befriends her teacher, Madame Perceval. Madame Perceval is the art teacher who happens to be a fan of Philippa’s father’s work. Philippa looks up to Madame Perceval because she also wants to be an artist some day just like her father and Madame. Madame in turn acts as a mentor to Philippa.
The mystery in And Both Were Young is centered around Paul’s past. The mysterious vibe is increased when a strange man begins wandering the mountains. The mystery comes to its climax near the end of the book, but I won’t ruin that for you here.
One of the things that I liked the most about this book was that the romantic settings of the mountains in Switzerland reminded me of Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein. I really enjoyed imagining the clear lakes and snow covered mountains in And Both Were Young. Another thing I enjoyed was the action of all the skiing that takes place in the book. Flying down snow covered mountains sounds really cool and now I kind of want to try skiing.