Monday Book Review: A Swiftly Tilting Planet by Madeline L’Engle

A Swiftly Tilting Planet (Madeleine L’Engle’s Time Quintet)



This is not a romance and there isn’t much in the way of a love plot, but it does feature a touching love triangle with a character who I fell deeply in love with as a teenager. Madeline L’Engle writes young adult and children’s books, but does so in a way that doesn’t talk down to children, which makes them wonderful books at any age.

The plot of A Swiftly Tilting Planet involves Charles Wallace (from A Wrinkle In Time, now 16) going back through history, inhabiting various lives that connect to Meg’s mother-in-law, who happens to be related to a terrorist threatening them. Charles Wallace is charged with subtly changing the flow of those lives so that the terrorist becomes someone non-threatening. This means that the plot is a series of¬†vignettes¬†of different people and lives, rather like episodes of Quantum Leap.

My favorite of these takes place during the Civil War. There are two twins, Matthew and Brandon Maddox. They are unnaturally close, to the point of being able to read each other’s minds. As teenagers, Matthew was thrown from a horse and his lower body crushed (which, as it turns out, was caused by the evil forces working against Charles Wallace).

The Good:

It’s not hard to love a Madeline L’Engle book! The story is fascinating and well told, with a mystery¬†weaving¬†together history and familiar characters. It was fascinating to learn more about Calvin’s family (from A Wrinkle in Time). I loved how the non-linear story was put together.

What a great title too, right?

The Bad:

If only there were more of the Maddox brothers! I used to read just their section whenever I reread the book.

In terms of the many L’Engle books I’ve read, this was not my favorite, but it is still very good.

Yummy Hero Factor:

When the war starts, Brandon goes off to fight and he comes back physically and mentally broken, so he has a touch of the “wounded hero” as well, but Matthew is by far the sexiest character in the book. He is measured, kind, smart, and self-sacrificing. He and Brandon both love the same girl, but Matthew recognizes that she belongs with Brandon and helps make sure that they are together.


A book worth reading even if there was no yummy hero!

Buy Now:

A Swiftly Tilting Planet (Madeleine L’Engle’s Time Quintet)

If you’ve written a book or know of a book that features a character with a physical disability, send me an email with “review” in the subject line:


  1. Beverly Diehl
    May 30, 2012

    L’Engle’s books are always worth a read even (or especially) the YA’s, which is most of her work. The writing may be simple in terms of SAT words, but the concepts are not, and the way the characters work together is always interesting.

    • RuthMadison
      May 30, 2012

      I think she was the one who said that writing for children does not mean talking down to them. And I really respect that!

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