An Acceptable Time (A Wrinkle in Time Quintet)

by Madeleine L'Engle

Hardcover, 1989




Farrar, Straus and Giroux, (1989)


Polly's stay with her grandparents in Connecticut becomes an extraordinary experience as she encounters old friends and mysterious strangers and finds herself traveling back in time to play a crucial role in a prehistoric confrontation.

User reviews

LibraryThing member SirRoger
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
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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 Planet|77276]) 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'Engle|106] and the Murry clan, but not because you expect it to be as good as [book:A Wrinkle In Time|18131]. It's not.
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LibraryThing member BMorrisAllen
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
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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.
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LibraryThing member justine
Not as good as the original time series, but still a good read.
LibraryThing member satyridae
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
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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.
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LibraryThing member JohnGrant1
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,
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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.
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LibraryThing member juniperSun
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
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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.
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LibraryThing member littlepiece
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
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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."
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LibraryThing member kaelirenee
Love this book when I was a preteen-good for those who like the early Wrinkle in Time books.
LibraryThing member Aelione
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
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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.
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LibraryThing member bethanynummela
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.
LibraryThing member elissajanine
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.
LibraryThing member navelos
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
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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.
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LibraryThing member readafew
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
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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.
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LibraryThing member Jean_Sexton
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
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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.
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LibraryThing member thelorelei
"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
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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.
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LibraryThing member g33kgrrl
Time travel, capture, escapes, jerky boys, and a snake.
LibraryThing member AltheaAnn
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
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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!)
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LibraryThing member MrsLee
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
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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.
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LibraryThing member SueinCyprus
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
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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.
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LibraryThing member nx74defiant
They spend way too much time talking. I kept waiting for something to actually happen. It seemed odd Polly's grandfather had trouble accepting the concept of time-travel given what happened to him in the first boo,
LibraryThing member DKnight0918
It was ok. You see how long it took me to finish it, though.
LibraryThing member heidialice
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
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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.
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LibraryThing member DrFuriosa
A story about time travel, the mysterious cosmic power of love, and sacrifice. It both fits and doesn't fit into the Time books, and L'Engle includes threads of her other series in there.


Utah Beehive Book Award (Nominee — Young Adult — 1993)


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