Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Book Review: An Acceptable Time

This book, by Madeleine L'Engle, is another story involving the Murry family. The protagonist is Polly O'Keefe, oldest daughter of Meg Murry and Calvin O'Keefe. Polly has found her educational options limited in the area where her family lives and has come to stay with, and be tutored by, her grandparents. Since her grandfather is an eminent physicist and her grandmother a Nobel-winning biologist, they are able to provide her with all the mental stimulus she needs.

Their neighbors are Dr. Louise Colubra, a local pediatrician, and her brother, a retired bishop who has traveled the world as a missionary. There is also a young man named Zachary, whom Polly met overseas. Zachary has a heart condition and has been told that he does not have much time left. But he is trying to live a normal life. The Bishop has some interesting ideas about God and heaven and angels.

Polly is just trying to deal with it all when she sees two young men and a young woman dressed rather oddly.

Turns out the circles of time between the present and 3,000 years ago are overlapping and drawing Polly, the Bishop, and Zachary in. Polly's grandparents and Dr. Louise are worried, but ultimately there is nothing they can do. Polly is a healer and is connected to the inhabitants of that long-ago time. She must bring peace between the People of the Wind and the People Across the Lake. And can Zach's heart be repaired by these long-ago healers, which modern medical science cannot do?

Ms. L'Engle does not try to explain how the time portals are crossed and opened to each other and she (and the Bishop) get a little New Age-y in her descriptions of how the "lines of love" connect everything and everyone. And the healer/shaman part is also a little odd (they can heal a heart but not a badly cut finger?). In A Swiftly Tilting Planet, one of the important characters is an Indian whose ancestors have come across the ocean from Wales, and that story is mentioned here. Two of the main characters are actually druids.

Polly and Zach mention events and people that must have happened in an earlier book--but, for the life of me, I can't figure out which one (or ones) it might be. But Ms. L'Engle writes as though the reader will just know. Or maybe she doesn't care. The first time that happened, I thought I'd missed something and went back to check. When I realized that it wasn't me after all, I continued on, but was still vaguely annoyed.

There are several more books, but the sequence, if there is one, isn't clear. So I'm moving on...

On the March Hare scale: 2.5 out of 5 Golden Bookmarks