May 17, 2013

An Acceptable Time by Madeline L'Engle

An Acceptable Time is the fifth book in the time series by L'Engle.  But it's also a part of the 2nd generation (O'Keefe) series and there's even a little bit of the Chronos series that plays into it.  And as such, without reading the rest of those books, you'll be kind of lost in this book I think.  So it's a hard one for me to suggest someone read unless they're a big fan of L'Engle.

Polly O'Keefe is visiting her grandparents when a time gate opens on the property.  She, the retired bishop and a friend named Zachary Gray are swept three thousand years in the past, and some people from the past are also able to visit them in the future.  But there's trouble three thousand years ago in the form of a drought.  And that drought is making the people think they need a sacrifice, and Polly seems like the perfect candidate to them.

Polly was hard to connect to in this book.  It could partially be because I haven't read the O'Keefe series in awhile and didn't get to be refreshed on her history.  But I also think that she was maybe a little too perfect and didn't do anything wrong.  She didn't seem very real.  In contrast, Zachary was as big of a jerk as ever.  It seems that he doesn't have any redeemable qualities and even his pick up lines are the same they used on Vickie Austin in the Chronos series.  He hasn't changed at all despite aging.  Which was slightly disappointing and it made it predictable what he would do.  The Bishop was interesting, he wasn't your traditional religious figure.  L'Engle uses him to speak her religious beliefs, which are unconventional and interesting.

The plot was ok.  I liked the idea of time circles, but I wasn't as fond of the execution.  Aside from Polly just doing weird things for someone supposedly so intelligent, the other characters weren't very developed with the exception of the Bishop.  And the book just didn't flow with the usual grace that L'Engle had.  The science and magic was still there, but it was disjointed.  I still think that her writing is beautiful, but maybe by the time this book came around she was wearing out a bit.  She's also a religious writer, for those not familiar with her works, and depending on your branch of religion or feelings towards religion, she could be a bit preachy for some.  I personally find her beliefs on religion to be interesting and definitely non-mainstream.

Not one of her better ones but a bad book by L'Engle is still pretty good compared to a lot of books out there.  As said before, if you are a big fan, read this book.

An Acceptable Time
Copyright 1989
343 pages

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