Sunday, March 22, 2015

An Acceptable Time (1989)

I wrap up my reading of L'Engle with An Acceptable Time, published in 1989. This book had moved beyond the topics of its day, worrying less about the big events of the world and more about the little. From where comes love, and what do you do with that love? We follow the story of Polly, the daughter of Meg, off onto her own strange adventure. She travels to and from 3,000 years ago, there meeting strange Celts who came to the new world, and the People of the Wind, and the People Across the Water.

Of the L'Engle books that I've read, this strikes me as the most coherent of them all, the story holding together as a story from one end to another. As expect, L'Engle avoids violence and extreme emotion, for she writes a family drama disguised as a fantasy novel. The world does not circle around wizards and demons, but upon affection and fears. No one is evil and no one is good. Almost entirely absent are supernatural beings, strange planets, and stranger magics. Instead, there is a house, and rock, and a lake long gone. These are enough. I found this a welcome relief from the previous book that I read, the one about Noah.

Strangely, L'Engle gets her time markers all wrong, or perhaps, she does not. Three thousand years ago, she asserts that with the ice age new over, the Appalachians were still craggy mountains, larger than now. The people were still much different and more primitive. This strikes me a purposeful young-earthism. How could she get time that wrong? Three thousand years ago, the nation of Israel was led by King David, the Old Kingdom of Egypt and the Sumerians were now but memories, and the Fertile Crescent has a thousand years of written history. The world was not at all new even if you take the Bible literally. But rather than take continuous offense at the oddly mangled information, I just accepted it and moved on. There are more than enough things to accept in this book, time travel being the biggie.

Although I cannot say that I am wild about this book, I can say that I respect it. Fantasy is a form well steeped in blood, and any work that can entertain you while avoiding the easy writing of violence has earned its own praises.