Monday, July 24, 2006

A Swiftly Tilting Planet

A Swiftly Tilting Planet, by Madeleine L'engle
www.madeleinelengle.com

Now this is the Madeleine L'Engle I remember and love. So complex. So involved. So fantastically weird. I love it! Though reading A Swiftly Tilting Planet, this is clearly a relic of the cold war. In this story, a wild dictator is threatening to start a nuclear war (on Thanksgiving Day) and Mr. Murry is warned by the President. Meg's mother-in-law, Mrs. O'Keefe, has joined the family for dinner, and she gives Charles Wallace an Ancient Rune, and the task of averting disaster. Charles is assisted by a time-travelling Unicorn (which is not nearly a cheesy as it sounds) and he travels to different points in the history of what turns out to be Mrs. O'Keefe's and the dictator's family trying to change "might have beens" in order to avert nuclear holocaust.

This summary doesn't do much to sell the book, but it is really intriguing and involving. There are things in this book that are memorable enough to have travelled with me from childhood. I think one of the things that appeals most is the idea that small choices and actions in one lifetime have a huge impact, not only on that lifetime but on the future of many people, and perhaps the world. This is an idea that has, I think, real and important ramifications in our world now, where we are coming to see just what damage our environmental decisions in the last 200 years have done, and are beginning to have to live with the consequences of these decisions.

Anyway, a great book. I loved it as a kid. I still love it. I'm off to drive my fuel-sucking car to the over air-conditioned grocery where I'll probably buy some plastic wrapped food.

3 comments:

ru said...

but more and more, these relics of the cold war are again ringing true.

scary, eh?

MadJenny said...

Very true. The overall themes and ideas still rang true. The South American communist Dictator with his finger on the Nuclear button seemed a little dated though. Now it would probably be Terrorist cells attacking something.

Maybe we should have someone read this book to certain political types who have too much power. And then someone could explain to them that it is about the benefits forgiveness over justice, among other important tidbits.

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