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A Book of Silence

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.
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About the Author

Sara Maitland is the author of numerous works of fiction, including the Somerset Maugham Award-winning Daughters of Jerusalem, and several non-fiction books about religion. Born in 1950, she studied at Oxford University and currently tutors on the Distance Learning MA in creative writing for Lancaster University. She lives in Galloway, Scotland.


'A Book of Silence grapples with ideas at the very heart of what it is to be human, and Sara Maitland is a joyous champion of the countercultural notion that silence is more than simply an absence of noise' -The Times 'Maitland's experience has been rich and thorough, and deeply enviable. Her book is probably unique in its subject, and timely, because good, healing silence is becoming hard to find, and we may not know we need it' - Guardian 'It is both an analytical, theoretical fascination and a personal one, her reading and her experience locked together, each testing and illuminating the other' - Economist 'Her dedication to the cause is both inspiring and shocking - There are many beautiful meditative passages in her meditation on silence - [A] wonderful salutary book' - Sunday Telegraph (Seven)

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