A Book of Silence

By Sara Maitland
(Counterpoint LLC, Hardcover, 9781582435176, 311pp.)

Publication Date: September 2009

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In her late forties, after a noisy upbringing as one of six children and adulthood as a vocal feminist and mother, Sara Maitland found herself living alone in the country, and, to her surprise, falling in love with silence. In this fascinating, intelligent, beautifully written book, Maitland describes how she set out to explore this new love, spending periods of silence in the Sinai desert, the Scottish hills, and a remote cottage on the Isle of Skye.

Maitland finds her experiences both euphoric and dark, mirrored in the accounts of others who have encountered silence from explorers and mystics to long-distance sailors. And in a wonderfully confiding, witty voice, she delves deep into the rich cultural history of silence, exploring its significance in fairytale and myth, its importance to the Western and Eastern religious traditions, and its use in psychoanalysis and artistic expression.

Maitland’s journey into silence holds surprises and setbacks, but mainly reveals a deepening happiness. Her story culminates in her building a hermitage on an isolated moor in Galloway, and as she guides readers through experiences of silence in this new home, she evokes a sense of peace that includes the reader in its intimate tranquility.

About the Author
Sara Maitland was born in 1950. Her first novel "Daughter of Jerusalem" won the Somerset Maugham Award in 1979. Since then she has published five more novels and six collections of short stories. In March 2008 Maia press published "Far North and Other Dark Tales" to celebrate the launch of the film "Far North," directed by Asif Kapadia and starring Michelle Yeoh and Sean Bean, which was based on that dark tale. She also writes non-fiction, particularly theology like "A Big Enough God "and", " "Angel and Me" (both from Continuum), and radio drama. Most recently "A Book of Silence" was published by Granta in 2008 to considerable critical acclaim. In 2007 she moved to Galloway and has built herself a house on the moors above New Luce. "A Book of Silence" is partly a cultural history of silence and partly a personal memoir of her search of that elusive lifestyle.
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