A Circle of Quiet (by Madeleine L'Engle)

I only discovered in the past few years that Madeleine L'Engle wrote several non-fiction books as well as her better known fiction ('A Wrinkle in Time' being probably her best-known book for children). At the end of 2008 I read her 'Reflections on Faith and Art' (Walking on Water), and thoroughly enjoyed it. So I was pleased to discover another of her books in a charity shop recently.

'A Circle of Quiet' is the first in a series of four journal-type books based around the authors memories and writing from her time at Crosswicks, the family home where she and her relatives tended to congregate in the summer months. There's no real structure to this book; those who like clear chapters and descriptions of what each is going to be about might be disappointed. But then those are not the kind of people who would enjoy the reminiscences and ideas of this amazing woman.

Madeline L'Engle writes about her children, about her gradual movement from agnosticism to faith, about what she means by 'truth'. She talks extensively about her writing, and the difficulties of juggling this necessary part of her life with her beloved husband Hugh and her children. She describes some of her neighbours, some of the people she loves and some whom she had difficulty with.

She is always honest, and writes with supreme clarity; frequently as I was reading, I found myself nodding, with a sense of absolute rightness. She has the uncanny ability to put into words much that has been in my mind, thoughts that have sometimes bothered me - and yet L'Engle has no hesitation about sharing her innermost ideas.

Thought-provoking, sometimes moving, always eminently readable. I look forward to getting hold of many more books by this author in future. I am delighted to learn that many of them are now in print again.

This book remains in print on both sides of the Atlantic.

Review copyright Sue's Book Reviews, 31st July 2010

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