It’s like L’Engle knew exactly what I was struggling with when she wrote An Acceptable Time. I had been struggling with the mundanity of the O’Keefe Family series and I’d been complaining about the short rapid endings. I’m not sure if she answered all my questions, but she wrote this one well/differently enough that it felt like she answered all of my concerns about the series.
It was also, to me at least, great that this book was the eighth book written and the eighth in the series, the only other one to happen like this is the first. But I think that probably worked to L’Engle’s advantage in that the interconnectedness of the two series is apparent throughout. The mentions of characters and happenings is excellent, but I was a little confused about how open the Murray’s were about their children’s time travel and experiences, but a little less open in this book about their granddaughters’. Perhaps it has to do with getting old, or Polly not being their permanent responsibility, but it felt a bit odd considering the first four books in the series.
I am slowly making my way through the final books in the Kairos portion of L’Engle’s oeuvre. This is the sixth book in chronological story order and the fourth book published in the Murray-O’Keefe books (AKA Kairos). It takes place about six months after the action of The Arm of the Starfish and a few years (I think) before A House Like a Lotus which my response should be published later this week.
I’m glad I’ve expanded my L’Engle reading if only to fully finish the Murray-O’Keefe story line, which the more I dig into the less I think I have actually read because all of her works are intertwined, but I think I will be giving her a rest after I finish this Super-Series. With only A House Like a Lotus and An Acceptable Time left to go I think that would be both a reasonable and acceptable dive into L’Engle’s works.
I decided to go down the full L’Engle Murray/O’Keefe rabbit hole. It may take a while to finish with other books burning holes in my kindle/on my shelf, but I will finish them!
I wasn’t as sold on this book as quickly as I was with A Wrinkle in Time, but it grew on me. The final quarter of the book was really strong! (And she didn’t rush the ending, or perhaps she did and I’m just used to it now.)
It’s a bit confusing, but I think I have it sorted out as The Arm of the Starfish is the second book written in the Kairos super-series, the first book of the second generation O’Keefe Family series, and the fourth book chronologically in plot line. Looking at the publication dates, it looks like L’Engle bounced back and forth between the two series (and another one) while she was writing in the ’60s and ’70s.
L’Engle went right past allegory and straight up tells a biblical tale, the tale of Noah and the ark, in this book. Duh, I mean look at the cover, why I didn’t make that connection when I started re-reading or remember it is beyond me. Strangely enough, I didn’t mind the story at all. I think it’s because “god”/”El” took a back seat and it focused more on the people in the story rather than the morals of the story.
I also need to say I have to eat my words for the abrupt ending this time. L’Engle did it again with less than five pages left she completely wrapped everything up, but this time it made sense. A lot of the story began wrapping up well before the last few pages, but the ultimate story and the return to modern-day happened over three pages max. The abruptness of it was necessary in that is how the twins experienced it and it’s only fair we the reader do so as well. Kudos to you L’Engle for keeping me on my toes.
It’s very fitting this is published on February 29. This book is all about time and leaping backward and forward in time. Four year’s isn’t a lot of time the older you get so they seem to happen much more frequently, but growing up four years was a LONG time to wait for something as exciting as an extra day of the year. Okay, on to the book.
I’m sure you’re all tired of me saying it, but I had to put it at the front this time because it’s really driving me crazy! After three books: the denouement needs to be longer! UGH! Invariably, L’Engle wraps up the entire story in less than ten pages with a bit of a and this and this and this type narrative. It’s not bad, it’s just frustrating. I want the details. I want to know why things happened. I want to know how they happened and not just the hints that she leaves. It’s a little too deus ex machina for me.
Picking up not long after A Wrinkle in Time, this book starts off with just as much intrigue and mystery as the first! If I would’ve remembered how easy these were to read and how entertaining they were, I would’ve re-read these a long time ago. Seriously, I’m devouring them and loving every minute of it. This will count for the 47th book of my Classic’s Club list!
Although powerful, this one didn’t quite stack up to the first in the series. I think it’s a combination of parts of it taking place in such a foreign setting and that about half-way through I once again had the thought about how good versus evil as an archetype isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but it can get a bit exhausting if you read too many in a row. This series, like many others, at heart deals with dark versus light/good versus evil/heaven versus hell. There are dozens I’ve read on this blog that deal with this from young adult to classic literature. Where they separate themselves is the story they tell and how they chose to portray the battle this time.
Let’s add this to the “How have I only ever read this once over a decade ago pile.” (That list gets longer and longer every time I look.) I’ve had these books since high school and only ever read them once. I’m so glad I added them on my Classic’s Club, the 46th book read, and am REALLY looking forward to reading the rest.
I somehow missed the fifth book, An Acceptable Time, when I read them the first time so that one will be completely new to me which is very exciting! I’m now torn on whether I should hold on to my copies or donate them so someone else can have the great joy of experiencing L’Engle’s incredible genius.
Aside from L’Engle using the maligned “It was a dark and stormy night.” to open the novel (buck those trends!), I think what really impressed me re-reading this work was L’Engle’s language. I know many authors do this, but I appreciate that fantasy/science fiction writers who write to young adults in particular (like Rachel Hartman) don’t dumb down their language. Not only does L’Engle write about incredibly complex scientific principles, but she uses language that a family as smart as the Wallace’s would use! It was refreshing to read such high language written so easily.