Having now read and digested all five books in L’Engle’s Time Quintet, I feel compelled to review the fifth book, An Acceptable Time.
Overall, the pacing of the book is relaxing and enjoyable. Things happen, but not without a lot of background explanation and family discussion. Perhaps this is because Mr. and Mrs. Murray, now grandparents, have settled into lives of retirement. Or, perhaps this is due to the story’s lack of unicorns, Echthroi, shape-shifting Nephilim or a man with red eyes.
Adventures through time with Polly O’Keefe are much different than those with her mother, Meg, or her uncles Charles Wallace, Sandy and Dennys. She is a distinct character, but also a tempered blend of the curiosity, intelligence and adventurous spirit of the Murrays and the O’Keefes. She geeks out with her grandparents about scientific concepts. She struggles between doing what is asked of her and doing what she must.
Polly’s method of time travel also varies from methods described in L’Engle’s prior books. The tesseract concept is still there, as is the star-watching rock. This time, however, L’Engle introduces connections between the past and present called ley lines, which she describes as lines between the stars. Circles of time come together through which peoples of different time periods can cross. This method is more subdued than Mrs. Whatsit, Mrs. Who and Mrs. Which’s abilities in A Wrinkle in Time, the size-shifting that goes on in A Wind in the Door, the winged unicorn in A Swiftly Tilting Planet and Dr. Murray’s computer experiment gone awry in Many Waters.
The plot point that had me turning pages the most revolved around Polly’s friend, Zachary, who reminded me of the younger version of Severus Snape portrayed in Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows. I kept going, wondering how Zachary’s role in the story would develop. L’Engle did not disappoint.
I give our departed L’Engle 4 out of 5 stars for An Acceptable Time. Thank you, Madame L’Engle, from my ley line to yours. As you said it best: “The lines of love cross time and space.”