Genre: nonfiction memoir
Length: 246 pages
Setting: mostly Crosswicks, Connecticut, before the 70s
Interest: I saw the book reviewed by The Modern Mrs. Darcy in a post about memoirs. I loved L’Engle’s books as a child and the post reminded me I haven’t read much of her adult fiction, and I didn’t even know she had nonfiction books out there.
Summary: The book is essentially a collection of L’Engle’s writing from her journals when she was probably middle-aged or slightly younger. In it, she muses about being a parent, a Christian, and a writer, and living life to its fullest. She provides anecdotes from her life in Crosswicks, trying to publish her novels, while being a good mother and living in a small, Northeastern community.
Final thoughts: This was a delightful and thought-provoking book. I had to read it with sticky notes to mark all the quotes I wanted to copy down. L’Engle’s style is so lyrical that I am immediately drawn into her words, regardless of what she’s writing about. This is a great book for a beginning writer, as well, since L’Engle describes her struggles and need to continue writing, even when it wasn’t convenient. Definitely a good book, but I think I got a lot more out of this book as a 40-year old than I would have if I had read it a decade or two earlier.
Let me provide a couple of my favorite quotes:
Madison Avenue…is one of the greatest of all limiters. The more vocabulary is limited, the less people will be able to think for themselves, the more they can be manipulated and the more of the product they will buy. Selling the product is Madison Avenue’s end; limiting the public’s capacity to think for itself is its means. p. 149
Or how about:
I am still every age that I have been. Because I was once a child, I am always a child. because I was once a searching adolescent, given to moods and ecstasies, these are still part of me, and always will be. Because I was once a rebellious student, there is and always will be in me the student crying out for reform.
This does not mean that I ought to be trapped or enclosed in any of these ages, but that they are in me to be drawn on; to forget is a form of suicide; my past is part of what makes the present Madeleine and must not be denied or rejected or forgotten. p. 200
And lastly, a short one, and the last sentence in the book:
The shadows are deepening all around us. Now is the time when we must begin to see our world and ourselves in a different way. p. 246
Title comes from: L’Engle actually discusses how she came up with the title in the book. She had several other suggestions before arrive at A Circle of Quiet, a phrase used early in the book.
Reading challenges fulfilled: a C in my title Reading the Alphabet Challenge and #6 in my Maybe 100 This Year Challenge
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