I don't know anyone who didn't love A Wrinkle in Time when they were growing up. We all read it and we all loved it and we all acted like we understood it, even though Madeline L'Engle wrote in ideas that were hard to understand or imagine. Still, she was always a heroine of mine for those books. And now she's a heroine of mine for an entirely new reason.
A Circle of Quiet has just been re-released as an ebook with a lovely memorial to the author, a collection of photos to go along with a biography to remember her for everything she did. This first book from her Crosswicks Journals (Crosswicks was her country home) is indeed a place of quiet in a crazy, complicated world.
But don't let the title fool you. This is a circle of quiet, but it is far from a lightweight or simple book. L'Engle tackles some of the most difficult and intimate issues a woman, a writer, a wife, and a mother face--what is the best use of my time? Why do I keep writing when I just keep getting rejected? Is it important to know how to bake a cherry pie? She doesn't hold back as she documents her struggles with her vocation, her faith, and her sense of self. In other words, her non-fiction is just as difficult and messy as her fiction.
I was particularly fascinated listening in as she wrestled with her writing. After a very difficult time in her 30s, a decade filled with rejections, L'Engle faced the doubts of a discouraged artist with honesty and grit. Instead of throwing in the towel, she stayed at her typewriter. She used her journals and her determination and the special quiet corner of her family farm to figure out how she felt about her own work, about the very nature of art, and how the self can interfere with the creative process. The struggles she goes through, the same ones every artist goes through, offers other writers a scaffold to rise to a higher level. The wisdom and experience she shares with us gives us all the understanding we need to keep at our own artistic endeavors. She is truly an inspiration, and our lives get to be so much richer for having her words in our lives.
I have been wanting to revisit A Wrinkle in Time for awhile now, to see what her universe looks like from this side of adulthood. With the news of the new movie (supposed to be in theaters in April of 2018), I knew this was the time to read her books again. And while I have always loved going back to her novels, now I can look forward to going back to her non-fiction as well. Because I will. A Circle of Quiet is a lovely respite and a graceful guidebook to being a better human being, and I can't recommend this enough to anyone struggling to find their voice as an artist, trying to find balance in a complicated world, or just wanting to find some peace and quiet in a crazy time of year.
Galleys were provided by the publisher through NetGalley.com.