Yesterday I finally got around to posting a review of Madeleine L’Engle’s A Circle of Quiet on Amazon. A lovely book of reflections on the author’s life experiences, opinions, and beliefs, it had me at this sentence found near the beginning of the book: “Some of our children talk about going back to the garden; we can’t do that; but we can travel in the direction which will lead us to that place where we may find out who we really are.”
And then there’s this: “Sometimes the obvious is so obscured by brilliant analysis that it gets lost.” Haven’t we all felt that after reading or listening to a particularly esoteric passage or lecture? Not as eloquent as L’Engle, my thoughts at such times are more in line with the KISS formula, Keep It Simple Sweetheart. Her writing is clear, yet profound, and I found myself thinking Yes dozens and dozens of times throughout the book.
Below is yesterday’s review.
A writer friend gave me this book with the words, “I love her voice, her story, and the way she thinks things out.” I can truthfully and enthusiastically add, “Me too!” While the author describes life in a small town and shares everyday snippets of family life, L’Engle does much, much more. Her reflections on family, child rearing, aging, marriage, religion, language, writing, God, and hubris are interesting—and universal in many ways. I say “in many ways” because women in many parts of the world probably don’t have the luxury to ponder many such topics. They’re focused on survival.
L’Engle’s musings resounded with me, for I have often thought the same thoughts and wondered the same things: What is charity? Why are children afraid of the dark? Why are adults afraid of the same thing? Is the pursuit of happiness the same thing as the pursuit of pleasure? What is the responsibility of the writer? How can one balance the precarious triangle of wife-mother-writer? What can we give a child that will stay with him (or her) when there is nothing left?
In short, this is a book that I won’t be lending to anyone or donating to a thrift shop. Because of the author’s conversational style, honesty, and wisdom, it’s one that I plan to dip into often. My copy of A Circle of Quiet is filled with margin notes and underlined passages that spoke to me. “Sometimes the adversary is the darkness that roams the earth” is one. Another is “Detachment and involvement: the artist must have both.” There are dozens of extraordinary passages. Why not read the book and find some gems for yourself?
Because of my roles in life, both past and present, many of the author’s musings affected my thinking and forced me to ponder answers to her questions. In the next couple of posts, I hope to pursue some of them, beginning with what we can give children (and others) that will stay with them when there’s nothing left.