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A Book of Silence

List Price: $15.95

August 17, 2010 | Paperback | 6 x 9, 320 Pages | ISBN 9781582436135
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“A brilliant exploration of something that right at the start is impossible to define precisely..." —New York Times Book Review

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, and 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 delves deep into the rich cultural history of silence, exploring its significance in fairy tale and myth, its importance to the Western and Eastern religious traditions, and its use in psychoanalysis and artistic expression.

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.

SARA MAITLAND is the author of numerous works of fiction, including the Somerset Maugham Award-winning Daughters of Jerusalem, and several nonfiction books about religion. She studied at Oxford University and currently lives in Galloway.


“A strikingly refreshing book to read, in the midst of the clamor and din, ever-mounting distraction, yelling TV pundits, solipsistic tweet-ing, and flash-card sentiment of our Internet age. Maitland rails against the idea of silence as void, absence, and lack—something that we must rush to fill—insisting it is positive and nurturing, and something more profound that must be actively sought.” —Newsweek

“A brilliant exploration of something that right at the start is impossible to define precisely… And I can hardly wait to see what comes next from this marvelous writer, thinker and seeker. I only hope it isn’t… silence.” —New York Times Book Review

“As Maitland seeks to both lose and find herself in silence, she articulates a remarkably graceful and penetrating response to that mysterious and essential force.” —Booklist Starred Review

“A timely and alluring exploration of the pleasures and powers of silence; Maitland writes with the serenity of one who has just returned from a place where I would very much like to go.” —Tim Parks, author of A Season with Verona

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