A Swiftly Tilting Planet by Madeleine L’Engle
When we read The Doomsday Book for Book Club, I was excited about the time travel aspect, though disappointed in the execution and plotting of it. So I was delighted to revisit my favorite in the L’Engle series, A Swiftly Tilting Planet, which features a move through time in order to save the universe from nuclear warfare (and yes, this book is a little dated by that feature, but it doesn’t matter in the end).
The plot has jumped forward about 9 years. Meg is pregnant with her first child, and her husband (I won’t tell, but it’s not really a surprise, squee!) is in London for a conference over Thanksgiving. Her mother-in-law, a taciturn, unloving woman, has finally agreed to join them for dinner. Charles Wallace, now 15, is still fascinated by the universe’s infinite variety, while the twins, Sandy and Dennys, are their usual basic pragmatic selves. When Mrs. MIL (named redacted to prevent minor spoiler) bursts into an old chant by the Star-Gazing rock, Meg and Charles Wallace know there’s a mystery afoot. A unicorn, Gaudior, appears to take Charles Wallace back in time while Meg kythes with him to figure out how her mother-in-law is connected to the dictator Madog Brazillo and how her fate is linked to the threat of nuclear warfare.
The time travel is just done so well, and the universality of the characters through time evokes David Mitchell’s Cloud Atlas, but is more succinct and profound in its connections (for the record, I thought Cloud Atlas was okay not great, but your own mileage may vary). The kything is done to fullest effect here, and my only regret is that Meg takes a more sedentary role than her usual active self. But it’s a rapid page-turner, and the journey through time makes you wonder where the time modification is supposed to take place. Highly recommended, even above A Wrinkle in Time.