A Circle of Quiet by Madeleine L’Engle
As you all know, I’ve been feasting on Madeleine L’Engle’s fiction this CBR. I haven’t read any of her nonfiction yet, so when I found A Circle of Quiet at Goodwill, I was excited to pick it up and see how her memoir “voice” differed or compared to her fictional persona. As it turns out, it was a good thing that I’ve read as much of her fiction as I have—she mentions it quite a bit in her journals and nonfiction work.
A Circle of Quiet does not focus on one specific event or period in L’Engle’s life, but rather a series of thoughts and ideas that she strings together as they become relevant. Drawn from her journals, L’Engle reflects on her career and her life in her home, Crosswicks, as part of a community. She discusses her writing process and her life progression, as an actress and then employee, then wife, mother, and writer. She examines the multi-year process of submitting A Wrinkle in Time for publication and the sting of multiple rejections before finally getting a publisher—and then the Newbery Medal.
L’Engle is crisp in her assessment of fiction, Christianity, and a variety of other life philosophies. She is funny and thought-provoking at the same time. There’s a part where she discusses the time she and her husband accidentally went to a burlesque, and it is hysterical. At the same time, she brings it around to a point she makes about fiction, which is really quite neat. I found myself laughing, but I also found myself nodding in agreement several times. L’Engle died in 2007, but so much of what she wrote and said is relevant for 2016. If you like writing about writing or her other work, then you should most definitely check this one out.