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An Acceptable Time

An Acceptable Time

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An Acceptable Time

3.5/5 (28 ratings)
319 pages
4 hours
May 1, 2007


An Acceptable Time, the final book in Madeleine L'Engle's Time Quintet, the series that began with the Newbery Award winner A Wrinkle in Time. While spending time with her grandparents, Alex and Kate Murry, Polly O'Keefe wanders into a time 3,000 years before her own.

A flash of lightning, quivering ground, and, instead of her grandparents' farm, Polly sees mist and jagged mountains -- and coming toward her, a group of young men carrying spears.

Why has a time gate opened and dropped Polly into a world that existed 3,000 years ago? Will she be able to get back to the present before the time gate closes -- and leaves her to face a group of people who believe in human sacrifice?

Books by Madeleine L'Engle

A Wrinkle in Time Quintet
A Wrinkle in Time
A Wind in the Door
A Swiftly Tilting Planet
Many Waters
An Acceptable Time

A Wrinkle in Time: The Graphic Novel by Madeleine L'Engle; adapted & illustrated by Hope Larson

Intergalactic P.S. 3 by Madeleine L'Engle; illustrated by Hope Larson: A standalone story set in the world of A Wrinkle in Time.

The Austin Family Chronicles
Meet the Austins (Volume 1)
The Moon by Night (Volume 2)
The Young Unicorns (Volume 3)
A Ring of Endless Light (Volume 4) A Newbery Honor book!
Troubling a Star (Volume 5)

The Polly O'Keefe books
The Arm of the Starfish
Dragons in the Waters
A House Like a Lotus

And Both Were Young


The Joys of Love

May 1, 2007

About the author

Madeleine L’Engle (1918–2007) was an American author of more than sixty books, including novels for children and adults, poetry, and religious meditations. Her best-known work, A Wrinkle in Time, one of the most beloved young adult books of the twentieth century and a Newbery Medal winner, has sold more than fourteen million copies since its publication in 1962. Her other novels include A Wind in the Door, A Swiftly Tilting Planet, and A Ring of Endless Light. Born in New York City, L’Engle graduated from Smith College and worked in theater, where she met her husband, actor Hugh Franklin. L’Engle documented her marriage and family life in the four-book autobiographical series, the Crosswicks Journals. She also served as librarian and writer-in-residence at the Cathedral Church of Saint John the Divine in Manhattan for more than thirty years.  

Related to An Acceptable Time

Inside the book

Top quotes

  • She swam tidily, displacing little water, back and forth, back and forth. She flipped onto her back, looking up at the skylights, and welcoming first one star, then another. Turned from her back to her side, swimming dreamily.

  • Behind Karralys the moon slipped below the great standing stones, leaving the star to shine brightly just above it, almost like a jewel touching his fair hair.

  • I guess the planet is riddled with holes, isn’t it? From all the peo- ple who’ve lived and then died. Do the holes ever get filled?

  • Hold me in peace while sleeping. Wake me with the sun’s smiling. With pure water slake my thirst. Let me be merry in your love.

  • Hierarchy was the word used by Dionysius the Aeropagite to refer to the arrangement of angels into three divisions, each con- sisting of three orders.

Book Preview

An Acceptable Time - Madeleine L'Engle


Chapter One

She walked through an orchard, fallen apples red and cidery on the ground, crossed a stone wall, and wandered on into a small wood. The path was carpeted with leaves, red, orange, gold, giving off a rich, earthy smell. Polly scuffed along, pushing the toes of her running shoes through the lavish brightness. It was her first New England autumn and she was exhilarated by the colors drifting from the trees, dappling her hair with reflected amber and bronze. The sun shone with a golden haze through a muted blue sky. Leaves whispered to the ground. The air was crisp, but not cold. She hummed with contentment.

The trees were young, most no more than half a century old, with trunks still slender, completely unlike the great Spanish-moss-hung water and live oaks she had left less than a week before. Apples from a wild seedling had dropped onto the path. She picked one up, russet and a bit misshapen. But the fruit was crisp and juicy and she wandered on, eating, and spitting out the seeds.

Now the path led her toward a forest of much older trees, towering maples, spruce, and pine. Reaching above them all was an ancient oak, with large, serrated leaves of a deep bronze color, many still clinging tenaciously to the branches. It was very different from the Southern oaks she was used to, and she had not recognized it as one until she learned her mother and uncles had always called it the Grandfather Oak.

When we first moved here, her grandmother had explained, most of the oaks were gone, killed by some disease. But this one survived, and now our land is full of young oaklings, all evidently disease-resistant, thanks to the Grandfather Oak.

Now she looked at the oak and was startled to see a young man standing in its shadows. He was looking at her with lucid blue eyes which seemed to hold the light of the day. He wore some kind of white garment, and one hand was on the head of a tan dog with large, pricked-up ears, outlined in black. The young man raised his hand in greeting, then turned and walked quickly into the forest. When she reached the great tree, he had disappeared from sight. She had thought he might speak to her, and she was curious.

The wind had risen and played through the pines, sounding almost like the rolling of the breakers on the beach at Benne Seed Island, off the coast of South Carolina, where her parents still were, and which she had left so short a time ago. She turned up the collar of the red anorak she had taken from the generous supply that hung on pegs outside her grandparents’ kitchen door. It was her favorite because it fitted her well and was warm and comfortable, and she liked it because the pockets were full of all kinds of things: a small but very bright flashlight; a pair of scissors; a notepad in a leather binder, with a purple felt pen; an assortment of paper clips, safety pins, rubber bands; a pair of dark glasses; a dog biscuit (for what dog?).

She sat on a great flat glacial rock, known as the star-watching rock, and looked up at white clouds scudding across the sky. She sat up straighter as she heard music, a high, rather shrill piping of a folk melody. What was it? Who was making music out here in the middle of nowhere? She got up and walked, following the sound, past the Grandfather Oak, in the same direction as the young man with the dog.

She went past the oak and there, sitting on a stone wall, was another young man, this one with lustrous black hair, and skin too white, playing a penny whistle.

Zachary! She was totally startled. Zachary Gray! What are you doing here?

He took the whistle from his mouth and shoved it into a pocket in his leather jacket. Rose from the wall and came toward her, arms outstretched. Well met by sunlight, Miss Polly O’Keefe. Zachary Gray at your service.

She pulled away from his embrace. But I thought you were at UCLA!

Hey. He put his arm around her waist and hugged her. Aren’t you glad to see me?

Of course I’m glad to see you. But how did you get here? Not just New England, but here, at my grandparents’—

He led her back to the wall. The stones still held warmth from the autumn sun. I called your folks in South Carolina, and they informed me you were staying with your grandparents, so I drove over to say hello, and they—your grandparents—told me you’d gone for a walk, and if I came out here I’d probably find you. His voice was relaxed; he seemed perfectly at home.

You drove here from UCLA?

He laughed. I’m taking an internship semester at a law firm in Hartford, specializing in insurance claims. His arm about her waist tightened. He bent toward her, touching his lips to hers.

She drew away. Zach. No.

I thought we were friends.

We are. Friends.

I thought you found me attractive.

I do. But—not yet. Not now. You know that.

Okay, Pol. But I can’t afford to wait too long. Suddenly his eyes looked bleak. His lips tightened. Then, deliberately, he gave her one of his most charming smiles. At least you’re glad to see me.

Very glad. Yes. Delighted, in fact, but totally surprised. She was flattered that he’d gone to the trouble to seek her out. She had met him in Athens the previous summer, where she had spent a few days before going to Cyprus to be a gofer at a conference on literature and literacy. It had been an incredibly rich experience, full of joy and pain, and in Athens Zachary had been charming to her, showing her a city he already knew well, and driving her around the surrounding countryside. But when he had said good-bye to her in the airport after the conference had ended, she had never expected to hear from him again.

I can’t believe it! She smiled at him.

Can’t believe what, Red?

Don’t call me Red, she replied automatically. That you’re here.

"Look at me. Touch me. It’s me, Zach. And what are you doing here?"

Going for a walk.

I mean, staying with your grandparents.

I’m studying with them. For a few months, at any rate. They’re terrific.

I gather they’re famous scientists or something.

Well, Grand’s a Nobel Prize laureate. She’s into little things—sub-subatomic particles. And Granddad’s an astrophysicist and knows more about the space/time continuum than almost anybody except Einstein or Hawking.

You always were a brain, he said. You understand all that stuff?

She laughed. Only a very little. She was absurdly glad to see him. Her grandparents were, as she had said, terrific, but she hadn’t seen anyone her own age and hadn’t expected to.

So why are you doing this instead of going to school at home? he asked.

I need lots more science than I could get at Cowpertown High, and getting to and from the mainland from Benne Seed was a real hassle.

That’s not the only reason.

Isn’t it enough? It would have to be enough for Zachary, at least for now. She looked away from him, across the star-watching rock, to an autumn sky just turning toward dusk. The long rays of the sun touched the clouds with rose and gold, and the vivid colors of the leaves deepened. A dark shadow of purple moved across the low hills.

Zachary followed her gaze. I love these mountains. So different from California mountains.

Polly nodded. These are old mountains, ancient, worn down by rain and wind and time itself. Perspective-making.

Do you need perspective?

Don’t we all? A leaf drifted down and settled on Polly’s hair.

Zachary reached out long, pale fingers and took it off. It’s the same color as your hair. Beautiful.

Polly sighed. I’m just beginning to be reconciled to my hair. Given a choice, I wouldn’t have chosen orange.

It’s not orange. Zachary let the leaf fall to the ground. It’s the color of autumn.

—Nice, she thought.—How nice he can be. This is the first time I’ve seen autumn foliage. I’ve always lived in warm climates. This is—I don’t have any words. I thought nothing could beat the ocean, and nothing does, but this—

It has its own glory, Zachary said. "Pop’s living in Sausalito now, and the view from his house can overwhelm, all that incredible expanse of Pacific. But this, as you say, gives perspective and peace.

Your grandparents, he continued, offered tea and cinnamon toast if I could find you and bring you back.

Sure. She jumped down from the wall. As they passed the Grandfather Oak, she asked, Hey, who was that blue-eyed guy I saw here a few minutes ago?

He looked at her. I thought he was someone who worked for your grandparents, a caretaker or gardener or something like that.

She shook her head.

You mean they take care of this whole place themselves?

Yes. Well, a neighboring farmer hays the fields, but he’s older, and this man was young, and he didn’t look like a farmer to me.

Zachary laughed. What do you think a farmer looks like? I grant you, this guy had a kind of nobility.

Did you talk to him?

No, and that was, as I think about it, a little weird. He looked at me, and I looked at him, and I was going to say something, but he gave me this look, as though he was totally surprised to see me, I mean totally, and then he turned and walked into the woods. He had this big-eared dog with him, and they just took off. Not running. But when I looked, I didn’t see them. He shrugged. As I said, I thought he must be a caretaker or whatever, and a lot of those types are sort of surly. Do you suppose he was a poacher? Do you have pheasants or quail?

Both. And our land is very visibly posted. It’s not big enough to be called a game preserve—most of the old farms around here were a hundred acres or less. But my grandparents like to keep it safe for the wildlife.

Forget him, Zachary said. I came out here looking for you and I’ve found you.

I’m glad. Really glad. She smiled at him, her most brilliant smile. Ready to go?

Sure. I think your grandparents are expecting us.

Okay. We’ll just go back across the star-watching rock.

Star-watching rock?

She stepped onto the large flat glacial rock. Patches of moss grew in the crevices. Mica sparkled in the long rays of the descending sun. It’s always been called that. It’s a wonderful place to lie and watch the stars. It’s my mother’s favorite rock, from when she was a child.

They crossed the rock and walked along the path that led in the direction of the house. Zachary walked slowly, she noticed, breathing almost as though he had been running. She shortened her pace to match his. Under one of the wild apple trees scattered across the land the ground was slippery with wrinkled brown apples, and there was a pungent, cidery smell. Inadvertently she moved ahead of Zachary and came to a low stone wall that marked the boundary of the big field north of the house. On the wall a large black snake was curled in the last of the sunlight. Hey! Polly laughed in pleasure. It’s Louise the Larger!

Zachary stopped, frozen in his tracks. What are you talking about? That’s a snake! Get away!

Oh, she won’t hurt us. It’s only Louise. She’s just a harmless black snake, Polly assured Zachary. When my uncles, Sandy and Dennys, were kids—you met Sandy in Athens—

He didn’t approve of me. Zachary stepped back farther from the wall and the snake.

"It wasn’t you, Polly said. It was your father’s conglomerates. Anyhow, there was a snake who lived in this wall, and my uncles called her Louise the Larger."

I don’t know much about snakes. Zachary retreated yet another step. They terrify me. But then isn’t this snake incredibly old?

Oh, she’s probably not the same one. Grand and I saw her sunning herself the other day, and she’s exactly like the old Louise the Larger, and Grand said there hasn’t been a black snake like Louise the Larger since my uncles left home.

It’s a crazy name. Zachary still did not approach, but stayed leaning against a young oak by the side of the path, as though catching his breath.

—It’s a family joke, Polly thought. Zachary knew nothing about her family except that it was a large one, and she knew nothing about him except that his mother was dead and his father was rich beyond her comprehension. Louise later. Ready?

His voice was unsteady. I’m not walking past that snake.

She won’t hurt you, Polly cajoled. Honestly. She’s completely harmless. And my grandmother said she was delighted to see her.

I’m not moving. There was a tremor in Zachary’s voice.

It’s really okay. Polly was coaxing. And where you have snakes you don’t have rats, and rats carry bubonic plague, and— She stopped as the snake uncoiled, slowly, luxuriously, and slithered down into the stone wall. Zachary watched, hands dug deep into the pockets of his leather jacket, until the last inch of tail vanished. She’s gone, Polly urged. Come on.

She won’t come out again?

She’s gone to bed for the night. Polly sounded her most authoritative, although she knew little of the habits of black snakes. The more tropical snakes on Benne Seed Island were largely poisonous and to be avoided. She trusted her grandmother’s assurance that Louise was benign, and so she crossed the wall and then held out her hand to Zachary, who took it and followed tentatively.

"It’s okay. Polly tugged at his hand. Let’s go."

They started across the field to what Polly already thought of as home, her grandparents’ house. It was an old white farmhouse which rambled pleasantly from the various wings that had been added throughout the centuries. Like most houses built over two hundred years ago in that windy part of the world, where winters were bitter and long, it faced south, where there was protection from the prevailing northwest winds. Off the pantry, which led from the kitchen to the garage, was a wing that held Polly’s grandmother’s lab. Originally, when the house had been part of a working dairy farm, it had been used as a pantry in which butter was churned, eggs candled.

To the east was the new wing, added after Polly’s mother and uncles had left home. It held an enclosed swimming pool, not very large, but big enough for swimming laps, which had been strongly recommended for her grandfather’s arthritis. Polly, like most children brought up on islands, was a swimmer, and she had established, in only a few days, her own pattern of a swim before dinner in the evening, sensing that her grandparents liked to be alone in the early morning for their pre-breakfast swim. In any case, the pool was large enough for two to swim in comfortably, but not three.

The downstairs rooms of the old house had been opened up, so that there was a comfortable L-shaped living room, and a big, rambly area that was kitchen/sitting room/dining room. Polly and Zachary approached the house from the north, climbing up onto the tiered terrace, which still held the summer furniture. I’ve got to help Granddad get that into the cellar for the winter, she said. It’s too cold now for sitting outdoors for meals.

She led Zachary toward the kitchen and the pleasant aromas of cooking and an applewood fire. Four people were sitting around the oval table cluttered with tea cups and a plate of cinnamon toast. Her grandmother saw them and stood up. Oh, good. You did find each other. Come on in. Tea’s ready. Zachary, I’d like you to meet my old friend Dr. Louise Colubra, and her brother, Bishop Nason Colubra.

The bishop stood up to shake hands with Zachary. He wore narrow jeans and a striped rugby shirt and his thinness made him seem even taller than he was. He reminded Polly of a heron. He had strong, long hands and wore his one treasured possession, a large gold ring set with a beautiful topaz, in elegant contrast to his casual country clothes. Retired, he said, and come to live with my little sister.

Little indeed, in contrast to her brother. Dr. Louise was a small-boned woman, and if the bishop made Polly think of a heron, Dr. Louise was like a brown thrush in her tweed skirt and cardigan. She, too, shook hands with Zachary. When Kate Murry calls me her old friend, I wonder what the ‘old’ refers to.

Friendship, of course, Polly’s grandmother said.

Dr. Louise! Polly took her place at the table, indicating to Zachary that he should sit beside her. We saw your namesake!

Not the original Louise the Larger, surely? The doctor took a plate of fragrant cinnamon toast and put it in front of Zachary.

I’m sorry. Zachary stared at the doctor. What’s your name?

Louise Colubra.

I get it! Zachary sounded triumphant. Colubra is Latin for snake!

That’s right. Polly looked at him admiringly. Zachary had already shown himself to have surprising stores of knowledge. She remembered him telling her, for instance, that Greek architecture was limited because the Greeks had not discovered the arch. She went to the kitchen dresser to get mugs for herself and Zachary. My uncles named the snake after Dr. Louise.

"But why Louise the Larger?"

The bishop smiled. Louise is hardly large, and I gather the snake is—larger, at least, for a black snake, than Louise is for a human being.

Polly put the mugs on the table. It’s lots easier to explain Louise the Larger with Dr. Louise here, than back at the stone wall.

A kettle was humming on the wood stove, its lid rising and falling. Polly’s grandfather lifted it with a potholder and poured water into the teapot. Tea’s pretty strong by now. I’d better thin it down. He put the kettle back on the stove, then poured tea for Polly and Zachary.

The bishop leaned across the table and helped himself to cinnamon toast. The reason for our unceremonious visit, he said, swallowing, is that I’ve found another one. He pointed to an object which sat like a loaf of bread by Polly’s grandfather’s mug.

It looks like a stone, Polly said.

And so it is, the bishop agreed. Like any stone from any stone wall. But it isn’t. Look.

Polly thought she saw lines on the stone, but they had probably been scratched as the old walls settled, or frost-heaved in winter.

But Zachary traced the stones with delicate fingers. Hey, is this Ogam writing?

The bishop beamed at him in delight and surprise. It is, young man, it is! How do you know about it?

One of my bosses in Hartford is interested in these stones. And I’ve been going so stir-crazy in that stuffy office that I’ve let him rattle on to me. It’s better than medical malpractice suits—Dr. Louise stiffened—"and it is interesting, to think maybe people were here from Britain, here on the North American continent, as long ago as—oh, three thousand years."

And you flunked out of all those fancy prep schools, Polly said wonderingly.

He smiled, took a sip of tea. When something interests me, I retain it. He held out his cup and Polly refilled it.

She put the teapot down and tentatively touched the stone. Is this a petroglyph?

The bishop helped himself to more cinnamon toast.


And that’s Og—

Ogam writing.

What does it say?

If I’m translating it correctly, something about Venus, and peaceful harvests and mild government. What do you think, young man?

Zachary shook his head. This is the first Ogam stone I’ve actually seen. My boss has some photographs, but he’s mostly interested in theory—Celts, and maybe druids, actually living with, and probably marrying, the natives.

Polly looked more closely. Very faintly she could see a couple of horizontal lines, with markings above and below them. Some farmer used this for his stone wall and never even noticed?

Her grandmother put another plate of cinnamon toast on the table and removed the empty one. The fragrance joined with that of the wood fire in the open fireplace.

Two hundred years ago farmers had all they could do to eke out a living. And how many farmers today have time to examine the stones that get heaved up in the spring? her grandfather asked.

Still our biggest crop, Dr. Louise interjected.

Polly’s grandfather pushed his glasses up his nose in a typical gesture. And if they did see markings on the stones and realized they weren’t random, they wouldn’t have had the faintest idea what the markings were about.

His wife laughed. Did you?

He returned the laugh. Touché. If it hadn’t been for Nase I’d have continued in ignorant bliss.

Dr. Louise smiled at him. Your work does tend to keep your head in the stars.

Actually, Louise, astrophysicists get precious little time for stargazing.

Where did you find this rock, Nase? Mrs. Murry sat at the table and poured herself some tea.

In that old stone wall you have to cross to get to the star-watching rock.

Louise the Larger’s wall! Polly exclaimed, thinking that it was natural that the bishop should know about the star-watching rock; it had been a special place for the entire Murry family, not only her mother.

The bishop continued, The early settlers were so busy clearing their fields, it was no wonder they didn’t notice stones with Ogam markings.

Ogam is an alphabet, Zachary explained to Polly. "A Celtic alphabet, with fifteen consonants and some vowels, with a few other signs for diphthongs, or double letters like ng."

Ogam, however, the bishop added, was primarily an oral, rather than a written, language. Would your boss like to see this stone?

He’d drop his teeth. Zachary grinned. But I’m not going to tell him. He’d just come and take over. No way. He looked at his watch, stood up. Listen, this has been terrific, and I’ve enjoyed meeting everybody, but I didn’t realize what time it was, and I’ve got a dinner date back in Hartford, but I’d like to drive over again soon if I may.

Of course. Mrs. Murry rose. Anytime. The only people Polly has seen since she’s been here are the four of us antiques.

You’re not— Polly started to protest.

But her grandmother continued, There aren’t many young people around, and we’ve worried about that.

Do come, any weekend, Mr. Murry urged.

Yes, do, Polly agreed.

I don’t really have to wait for the weekend, Zachary said. I have Thursday afternoons off. He looked at Polly and she smiled at him. Okay if I drive over then? It’s not too much over an hour. I could be here by two.

Of course. We’ll expect you then.

The Murry grandparents and Polly accompanied Zachary out of the kitchen, past Mrs. Murry’s lab, and through the garage. Zachary’s small red sports car was parked next to a bright blue pickup

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What people think about An Acceptable Time

28 ratings / 22 Reviews
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Reader reviews

  • (4/5)
    This is the 5th and final book in the Time Quintet by Madeleine L'Engle. I think I'm too old and have read too many books for this one to be enjoyable. I was never in doubt or surprised at any development.Overall it wasn't a bad book, and for someone who's enjoyed the other Time Quintet books this one is very similar. However, I really found Zachary to be very annoying to the nth degree and I've never liked L'Engle's Time thought experiments such as 'If I die here in the past before I was born will I have ever existed?' WHAT? Anyway decent story with a strong moral ending.
  • (2/5)
    Oh dear. I don't know what to say. I loved Madeleine L'Engel's earlier trilogy, and this is a subsequent novel to it which features Polly, the daughter of Meg, and her grandparents, the Murrys. Polly is drawn through time and interacts with a druid tribe in northeastern America 3000 years before her time. I only finished this by wildy skimming to see if it got better.I found the interactions of the characters awkward and stilted. Some other descriptive words that come to mind are; clunky, repetitive, maudlin, preachy. I don't remember that from the first books at all and now I'm afraid to read them again. What really killed this for me though, was that on Polly's first trip through time, 3000 years back, she found the native peoples tending sheep and cows. Now, there may be some dispute about which people were first in this land, but I know that sheep and cows came with the Spaniards. It tipped the scales to unbelievable for me.
  • (3/5)
    I was a big fan of Madeline L'Engle when I was kid but hadn't read this one before. The story is that Polly, while staying with her grandparents in New England, stumbles through a time gate into the distant past. The action really begins when her friend Zachary enters the picture and comes into the past with her. Zachary has recently been diagnosed with a heart problem and been told that he has only a short time left to live and hopes to find a cure in the past.A big portion of the center of the book was rather slow and repetitive. The grandparents keep warning Polly to be careful and avoid going to the past while trying to understand or believe what is going on. The book is a little preachy at times and I felt like there where just a few too many strokes of good luck or coincidence.
  • (3/5)
    Fifth in the 'Time Quintet', featuring Polly O'Keefe, although it stands alone. Polly has gone to live with her grandparents for a while, and finds herself unexpectedly three thousand years in the past...There are some realistic insights into what life might have been like in this era, complete with druids, healers and also warriors. There's another clan on the other side of the lake, whose goddess apparently demands human sacrifice in order to bring rain, to stop the terrible drought...It's quite a page-turning book, one that I wouldn't recommend to younger or sensitive children. Since Polly must be at least sixteen, it's probably intended primarily for teenagers anyway. There's a tad too much detail in places, for my tastes, and some of the conversations seem a bit stilted. But the story is interesting, if far-fetched, and there's a powerful message of love conquering evil.There's more of an overt Christian message in this than in the earlier books in the series, but it's mostly shown in contrast with the polytheistic religion of the past. Worth reading if you like the series, but I doubt if I'll read it a second time.
  • (5/5)
    L'Engle weaves a story through space and time again proving how much the future can affect the past to change the future. It's a beautiful book developing characters we know and love from L'Engle's previous novels.
  • (4/5)
    Not as good as the original time series, but still a good read.
  • (2/5)
    This book mixes characters that L'Engle readers have previously met in both her Murry and Austin family books, although it's a stand-alone novel. Two college-age folks, Polly and Zachary, along with a family friend who is a retired bishop, pass through a "time-gate" into 3000 years ago, and a tribe of celtic-influenced Native Americans, some of whom, regrettably, think that strange and seemingly powerful strangers would make an excellent blood sacrifice to bring rain.
    This book is more overtly Christian than I remember her earlier books being (although all of her writing is informed by her beliefs). However, it's the sort of Christianity that makes me think her books should be required reading for all the anti-science, xenophobic, war-mongering so-called Christians out there!
    Still, there are a few moments when it gets out of hand - the bishop character has a tendency to preach, and there's a totally unneccessary little jab at the "evil" of fortune-telling (which I personally think is a totally harmless and entertaining [if a bit silly] activity.)
    What I find a bit more off-putting (to me personally) than her religion is the portrayed centrality of family. Not just in this book, but in her writing in general. Family members Always love each other and get along fabulously. If she has a character that isn't in the family, and isn't a family friend (as opposed to a personal friend), they're bound to be bad news. If a character doesn't have a strong relationship with their family, they're bound to be sad, disturbed, and in need of help. When confronted with a dilemma, her young adult characters think of confiding in/consulting their parents or grandparents, first thing! (Eh, my mom would think it was just wonderful....but it's just not likely.)
    Like I said, maybe it's just me... I've always been a very independent person; I left home very early, and although I love my immediate family and make an effort to stay in touch and see them at least once or twice a year, they're not central to my life, nor do they know every detail of what's going on in my life... which I find happy and normal!

    Still L'Engle is a good writer, and this is a fast read... (it didn't feel like over 300 pages at all!)
  • (2/5)
    I enjoyed the first three books in this series when I was younger. The fourth book, Many Waters, I read more recently, and it was good, if not with the same spark as the earlier ones. The fifth book, unfortunately, doesn't stand up.

    An Acceptable Time is about Polly, a teenager staying with her grandparents. For reasons that are hinted at but never really explained, a gate opens to a time 3,000 years before, where Polly and her neighbour the bishop interact with the natives (who are led by a wise European).

    It's a pleasant enough read in some ways, but much of it seems haphazard. The plot seems more of a sketch than a final product, full of inconsistencies and lucky coincidences. The science is decorative but vague and not very logical. Religion obtrudes more awkwardly than in the previous books. Characters are black or white, and fairly flat. At the same time, the tone is light and fun, and some of the animal characters are nice companions.

    All in all, a disappointing book. Fans of L'Engle and her various interconnected series will no doubt want to read this. For others, I advise stopping after A Swiftly Tilting Planet.
  • (3/5)
    I was surprised to see that I had missed this sequal to A Wrinkle in Time, but found it to be a fairly flat novel so am not surprised it slipped past my radar. Or maybe I'm just so much older than when I read Wrinkle that I expect more from a novel than I did then.Too much preaching--so much, that L'Engle had her character apologize frequently for preaching. While Polly is a thoughtful, caring character, Zachary is such a self-centered user he irritated me & I couldn't figure out why Polly would give him any attention.
  • (4/5)
    Polly O'Keefe, daughter of Meg and Calvin from the original Wrinkle in Time series, visits her grandparents' farm and finds herself traveling back 3000 years. When she and two of her friends find themselves trapped there, they have to rely on their wits to avoid being sacrificed.Not as compelling as the original series, but a good read for those (like me) who can't get enough of L'Engle. I was pleased this didn't devolve into pointless romance, and enjoyed the redemption story.
  • (3/5)
    I had a tough time finishing this book. I didn't connect with the characters, and the message seemed so heavy-handed. But A Wrinkle in Time has always been a favorite of mine growing up, and it was nice to reconnect with some of the characters and settings from that world.
  • (4/5)
    Time travel, capture, escapes, jerky boys, and a snake.
  • (2/5)
    In keeping with my habit of reading novel series in the wrong order (see Margaret J. Anderson, passim), I've just followed my reading of the first volume in L'Engle's Time Quintet with a reading of the fifth. Next up is likely (for arcane reasons) to be the fourth . . .

    Teenaged Polly O'Keefe, eldest child of Calvin and Meg from A Wrinkle in Time, is staying with her genius-scientist Murry grandparents in order to get some studying done away from the sibling horde at home. One day Zachary Gray, whom she met briefly while bumming around Europe the previous summer, turns up at the isolated house; he has romance in mind, though constrained in his ambitions by the fact that he's been diagnosed with a weak heart and not given long to go. Together they see a mysterious man with a mysterious dog; returning to the house, they admire a 3000-year-old stone carved with Ogam lines that a family friend, Bishop Nason Colubra, has brought to show Polly's grandparents. Later, when Polly is having a swim, a mysterious girl appears, Anaral, indicating that she is from a far-distant past -- the time of Bishop Colubra's stone. Next day, when Polly is out walking, there's a rumble of the earth and a trembling of the air and she finds herself transported back to Anaral's time. (Among the reasons she knows she's in the past is that the local mountains aren't their rounded placid selves but are all jagged and new-looking. I'd have said a mere 3000 years' erosion wouldn't have made much visible difference to a mountain, but there you go.)

    Polly's first trip into the past doesn't last long. Back home, she and her parents talk a lot about the nature of time and of religion, together with the bishop and his sister. It emerges that the bishop knows a lot more about the opening up of the timegate between now and then than he's been letting on; it's because he's been bopping back there regularly that several of the People of the Wind, as Anaral's tribe are called, can speak fluent English. Polly, an astonishing linguist (and, as we later discover, an Olympic-standard swimmer), promptly teaches herself Ogam -- a neat trick if you can do it. Zachary, hearing about what's been going on, insists on dragging her back to the past era, in the hope that, since modern medical science has shown itself incapable of curing his heart condition, perhaps a prehistoric shaman might have better luck. (I must confess I stared at the page in disbelief when this bit of plotting Bandaid was introduced.)

    This time, though, Polly and Zachary -- and the bishop, who's made the transition independently -- find that they can't get home to their own time so easily: the timegate is closed. Further, all is not well with the People of the Wind. The rascally People Across the Lake, who've been suffering a drought, have been raiding for crops and cattle. Because Polly has a mop of red hair and because she appears to have been befriended by a snake, both lots of People tend to think she's a goddess -- and there's a general inclination to sacrifice her to the Mother to either (a) stop the raids or (b) bring rain. Zachary, whose whingeing has by now reached epic proportions, betrays Polly to the People Across the Lake in the hope that their healer will cure his heart condition in return for the tribe being allowed to blood-sacrifice her. The relationship between them will never be quite the same again.

    Needless to say, after many a conniption, Polly escapes being forced to perform a propitiatiory function, the two Peoples sort out their differences thanks to her ministrations, the time travellers get home, the news is broken to Zachary that, under the circumstances, rather than anticipating a bright romantic future with Polly, he might be better advised to stick his head in a location inconvenient to describe, and -- this being a L'Engle book -- a whole lot of devoutery is spouted.

    In fact, I found the devoutery in this book, while there's quite a lot of it (the very title is from Psalms: "Lord, I make my prayer to you in an acceptable time"), far less oppressive than in A Wrinkle in Time. I think this is probably because it seems to appear just as a natural part of the plot (and with one of the characters a bishop, it's to be expected); in the earlier book, there were instances where the religiosity seemed just to have been jammed in gratuitously while, elsewhere, there was a suspicion that perhaps the whole purpose of the book was to push a religious agenda. Further, in An Acceptable Time, the tone of the religiosity is much altered: it seems far more ecumenical and indeed liberal: there's no attempt to force the People of the Wind to abandon their reverence for the Mother and take up worship of the as-yet-unborn Christ instead. And there are some direct challenges to the faux-Christian right:

    "The idea of blood sacrifice is gone from our frame of reference, but it's not that much different or worse than things that go on today. What else is the electric chair or lethal injection than human sacrifice?"
    "We're told that it's to protect society," Polly said.
    "Isn't Tav trying to protect his society in the only way he knows how? [. . .:]" (p183)

    All in all, although this is a much longer book than A Wrinkle in Time, and although some of the plot's mechanics creaked near-deafeningly, I found it by far the more readable of the two books. I am less apprehensive about reading the other books in the series than I was.
  • (4/5)
    This is another good book by L'Engle. Polly is still one of my favorite characters and she slips easily into this series from House like a Lotus. I wonder about Zachary's eventual fate after this book; I am glad that Polly makes the decisions she does. I think this is another book about the nature of love. Favorite quote: "Whatever we give, we have to give out of love. That, I believe, is the nature of God.”I am glad I read this.
  • (3/5)
    Strangely uninteresting. Try "A Wind in the Door" instead.
  • (2/5)
    This book is packed to the gills with what some of L'Engle's Goodreads fans are calling scorflam, which is short for "that stuff L'Engle does that would be grounds for hurling the book across the room in the hands of any other author but since it's L'Engle, one rises above the impulse." I got close, more than once, to not rising above the book-hurling impulse while re-reading this book for the first time since it was new.

    The premise that a modern adolescent can move through time is intriguing if not particularly novel. The idea that ancient Native culture was informed and enlightened by a great Druidic healer who crossed the Atlantic in a canoe is novel if not particularly plausible. The introduction of the moody Zachary Gray, who like his Uncle Dorian, does not age in the normal manner is neither novel nor plausible. Also he's a puling, whining shadow of his complicated self here.

    My favorite character is Louise the Larger. You know, because the snake has all the lines? All the lines that make sense, anyway.

    This book is an unfocused jumble of interesting notions and heartwarming anecdotes about love and how Jesus is timeless. Give it a miss. Even though it's L'Engle. I know, I know. But it's not good L'Engle. Just re-read Wrinkle instead. And yes, 2 stars = 1 too many. But it's L'Engle.
  • (3/5)
    It was ok. You see how long it took me to finish it, though.
  • (5/5)
    I love this author. She is one of my all-time favorite writers and was my fantasy grandmother throughout childhood. She wrote a ton of other books besides A Wrinkle in Time (her most famous novel) that are all fantastic as well. This book is about Polly, the daughter of Calvin and Meg, and a time travelling adventure she has to pre-historic new England. I love how M L'E writes the druids (Druids in New England!) and the Native American cultures. Very similar to parts of A Swiftly Tilting Planet.
  • (4/5)
    "An Acceptable Time" is the final installment in Madeleine L'Engle's beloved Time Quintet, and it is rather different in tone from the previous books. The plot centers around Polly, Meg and Calvin's daughter, as she visits her Murry grandparents in New England. Somehow time circles nearby have been opened, allowing Polly to cross over into prehistoric times. Whereas the threats of the previous books came from without the Murry circle of friends and family, in this story Polly is put in considerable danger by a friend, and then the challenge becomes whether to do the right thing and help the person who selfishly harmed you, or leave them to suffer the consequences of their own bad decisions. I liked this book, despite the fact that it is very different from the adventures of the previous generation. The tone is just a little more downcast, as it revolves around human sacrifice and betrayal, and Alex and Kate Murry have grown less open-minded in their older age, refusing at first to believe that Polly has truly time-traveled. That was slightly hard to swallow considering all they had seen (Alex Murry having himself tessered in the first book). But the writing was still captivating, and I very much wanted to find out what happened in the course of the novel (even though I've read it before) so I would still recommend the book.
  • (5/5)
    An Acceptable Time is my favorite of the second-generation Austin/Murray spin-offs. It is written for an older YA audience, allowing it to handle ambiguously romantic plot elements far more gracefully than books like A Ring of Endless Light (which features the same sullen, dark stranger, Zachary Gray). The characters of Polly O'Keefe and the Bishop are true to the original spirit of the books with Meg. Polly will never replace Meg in my heart, but had I the power I would have An Acceptable Time replace Many Waters in the officially-marketed "Time Quartet."
  • (4/5)
    Love this book when I was a preteen-good for those who like the early Wrinkle in Time books.
  • (1/5)
    An Acceptable Time does have a good message. It teaches truth in that integrated, mostly-subtle way that good books should, and in this is similar to the other books in the "Time" "Series." (If, indeed, a series it really can be called...) The difference is that this book is boring. Yes, it continues the story of the Murry clan, and yes, it involves druids and blood sacrifice and time travel, (in a way quite parallel to [book:A Swiftly Tilting Planet77276]) and yes, it does eventually get around to a nice satisfying moral. But. Plot holes abound. The dialogue is confusing and repetitive, when it's not inane. If it had been condensed to about half the length, with serious dialogue editing, it might have worked. Read it because you love [author:Madeleine L'Engle106] and the Murry clan, but not because you expect it to be as good as [book:A Wrinkle In Time18131]. It's not.