Customer Reviews


53 Reviews
5 star:
 (27)
4 star:
 (11)
3 star:
 (7)
2 star:
 (4)
1 star:
 (4)
 
 
 
 
 
Average Customer Review
Share your thoughts with other customers
Create your own review
 
 

The most helpful favourable review
The most helpful critical review


20 of 20 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars life changing
This book transformed my way of understanding my inner life and thus has utterly changed how I organise and order my outer life. Maitland takes on many of our taken for granted assumptions about the meaning of silence and solitude so that rather than understanding life as something to be filled up in order to keep at bay unwanted experience, she invites us to allow the...
Published on 29 May 2010 by Shushan

versus
76 of 81 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars The sound of silence
In middle age, the feminist author, Sara Maitland, lives on her own for the first time, and surprises herself by falling in love with the vast silences of solitude. Over the subsequent decade, she sets out to explore her new love, spending time on her own in some of Britain's wild places. A Book of Silence is partly an account of her experiences of silence and partly a...
Published on 10 Feb 2009 by J A C Corbett


‹ Previous | 1 26 | Next ›
Most Helpful First | Newest First

20 of 20 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars life changing, 29 May 2010
This review is from: A Book of Silence (Paperback)
This book transformed my way of understanding my inner life and thus has utterly changed how I organise and order my outer life. Maitland takes on many of our taken for granted assumptions about the meaning of silence and solitude so that rather than understanding life as something to be filled up in order to keep at bay unwanted experience, she invites us to allow the noise and business to fall away in pursuit of the adventure that is silence. Silence has now become a central pursuit of my life. Indeed Maitland suggests that silence actually is God.

Most significantly for me, Maitland challenges a very psyhologised notion of personal life that dominates contemporary culture with an alternative paradigm derived from a spiritual understanding of the world. She suggests that silence is popularly understood in terms of potential pathology, so that success in sociability is a mark of wellness and desire for silence and solitude might be seen as maladjustment. Maitland is not in flight from unsuccessful sociability, indeed she has clearly been part of a lively family and social life, rather she is seeking something that is only found in silence. What I learned was that experiences I had interpreted as loneliness (even in company) to be avoided, might actually be rich sites to move into by choice as places to know God more fully.

The book is structured as a quest for silence, which makes it a bit of a page turner, even with it's digressions into understanding the history of silence in religious life and other paradigms. The book does leave me with unanswered questions, but I think those are for me to explore in my own life, rather than requiring Maitland to bare her own soul more fully. I continue to be inspired by the image of the little house that Maitland finally arrives at. I understand from her website that she now shares this little house with a dog, who interrupts the silence somewhat, but I like that idea too.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


162 of 168 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A book about silences, 15 Dec 2008
By 
Dr. L. Murgatroyd (London, UK) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: A Book of Silence (Hardcover)
This is a riveting and quirky book, beautifully written, entertaining and profound. Impossible to classify, it is part travelogue, part witty and devastatingly open autobiography, part review of the experiences of silence of people as diverse as early Christian desert hermits, 20th century yachtspeople and Buddhists.
Mid-life, Maitland chose to place silence at the centre of her life and she explores what this might mean for her in late 20th Century Britain. She addresses challenging issues, such as the fear of what might happen in silence, and practical issues such as earning her keep.
To my mind, she doesn't always get it quite right - her fascinating discussion of voice hearing that sometimes happens in silence does not distinguish between hearing 'inner voices' of guidance and 'outer voices' made by the wind , for example. Her description of silent Quaker worship doesn't quite grasp that this is a listening silence, in which the worshippers' active 'listening towards God' is more important than any spoken word. But these are small points in a huge work, and I would thoroughly recommend this book as a good read for practitioners of silence and others alike.
Maitland articulates beautifully much that is not spoken of in our society , including the importance for everyone of having enough silence in our lives. The book is is not an invitation to silence as such, but offers insights and many possible paths for readers to follow. I can think of several very different people for whom it would be a great present!
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


68 of 72 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Book of Silence, 6 Jan 2009
This review is from: A Book of Silence (Hardcover)
This was an utterly absorbing book. Thought-provoking and unique, I would recommend this to everyone. I picked it up in the bookshop by chance - I had never heard of Sara Maitland, but found her writing style entrancing. The ways in which she explored silence; in history, religion, literature and especially within her own life, were fascinating.

This book has charm. Give it a try.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


76 of 81 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars The sound of silence, 10 Feb 2009
By 
J A C Corbett (Blackheath, London, UK) - See all my reviews
(VINE VOICE)    (REAL NAME)   
This review is from: A Book of Silence (Hardcover)
In middle age, the feminist author, Sara Maitland, lives on her own for the first time, and surprises herself by falling in love with the vast silences of solitude. Over the subsequent decade, she sets out to explore her new love, spending time on her own in some of Britain's wild places. A Book of Silence is partly an account of her experiences of silence and partly a cultural history of silence.

In essence we have two books that are competing for our attention. Maitland's accounts of her own experiences are fine and moving, but she intersperses these with her sprawling discourse on the culture of silence. Maitland loves quiet, but gives her readers no peace for she is endlessly qualifying her own, often moving, experiences with those of others. There's nothing wrong with setting out to explore others' experiences of silence, but she's actually a not a great guide, seemingly including everything she happened upon in her research, when had she cut the book by 100 pages it would have been much better for it.

What really frustrated me about A Book of Silence is that so many passages are exceptionally well written and Maitland's skills as a writer are abundantly obvious. She writes of her admiration for the mountaineer and author, Joe Simpson, and yet in many ways her accounts of the silences of Skye and Galloway are as evocative as Simpson's works, many of which are considered modern classics. What we want is more of this, more of the author, and less of rambling, sprawling pseudo-academic discourse on silence.

Because she seems so preoccupied with others' accounts she also leaves the reader asking many questions: How did the break up of her marriage (which is skirted over) impact on her search for silence? What did her children make of her life choices? The problem with this sort of book is that you can't be selective over what you reveal to your reader: you either show them everything or nothing.

This is, in many ways, a good book, but with more stringent editing and disciplined writing it could have been great.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


101 of 110 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Most Satisfying Non Fiction Book I've Read For Years, 12 Nov 2008
By 
M. C. Wherly (New Brighton, Merseyside United Kingdom) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This review is from: A Book of Silence (Hardcover)
This book is beyond classification. It's a spiritual text, an autobiography, a survey of particular branches of science, cosmology and history, a travel yarn, a series of closely-observed, beautifully-executed descriptions of the natural world. It's also in parts wonderfully funny. To my mind, Ms Maitland has outdone the achievement of the Annie Dillard of 'Pilgrim At Tinker's Creek' - high praise from me, for that is my all-time favourite book.
Thoughout the book deals with challenging material, but I - who often get too lost to be found in many books I pick up - was amazed by my own clarity throughout. This I owe to the author's limpid style and the fact that every page is packed with important and beautiful things.
Any criticism? I wanted more. Much more. But the rest was Silence.

Michael Wherly
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Engaging and questionning, 22 Aug 2009
By 
Tim Pickles "Interfaith Minister, spiritual d... (Keswick, Cumbria, UK) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: A Book of Silence (Paperback)
I really enjoyed this book. I heard Sara speak at the 'Words by the Water' literature festival in Keswick and was eager to read the book to follow more of her experiences. She asks fundamental questions: what is silence?; how is it to live with silence?; how can we create the time to live with more contemplation? The examples she explores - of the desert fathers, of single-handed yachtsmen, of explorers, of monastic orders - are fascinating. More engaging still are her own exploits to live with greater silence in her life - in County Durham and in Galloway. I loved her two definitions of silence: an absence of noise; and an absence of words. The latter extends to 'words' that are 'heard' when reading or thinking. Sara engages with the challenge of how to live differently.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


11 of 12 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars interested reader, 10 May 2009
By 
This review is from: A Book of Silence (Hardcover)
Wonderful book, a thoughtful response to the issues of silence from both a humanist and religious perspective. Certainly made me think about my experience of prayer, silence and the need for making space in life. Certainly worth the read for anyone who wants a deep insight into the place and importance of silence in our livesA Book of Silence
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


17 of 19 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Bool of Silence, 2 Feb 2009
By 
J. Loftus "JohnLondon" (London, UK) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: A Book of Silence (Hardcover)
This is my first review and the only reason I'm bothering is to add my praise for this book. I like peace and quiet and I find it shocking that some people have to have background noise because they find silence disturbing. I bought this book because of this mind interest in silence. This book is deeply personal and intelligent and also spiritual. When you read it you will be taken on a personal journey of a woman who wishes to explore silence. The writing is emotionally honest, the cultural references wide-ranging and the spirit of adventure that pervades the book deeply moving. It is the most enjoyable non-fiction book I have read for years.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Just fantastic, 21 April 2011
By 
Angel House "Poet" (South Oxfordshire) - See all my reviews
(VINE VOICE)   
This review is from: A Book of Silence (Paperback)
I adore this book.

I learnt so much from it - about silence, life and myself. I particularly enjoyed Sara's thoughts about the different types of silence and how creative silence is briming and spiritual silence is receiving (my words rather than hers).

She has inspired me to write several poems and I am sure I will read this book again.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Thought-provoking, 7 Sep 2009
By 
Didier (Ghent, Belgium) - See all my reviews
(TOP 500 REVIEWER)   
This review is from: A Book of Silence (Paperback)
I must confess (if there is any 'confessing' about it) that I have always been a rather silent person myself. Silent in two ways: I both enjoy being in a silent environment (going walking and camping by myself, the lonelier and more desolate the more I like it), and in groups tend to be 'a silent type' as well. But even then, I had never before given this much thought. To me, it was just another aspect of my personality and interests (just as I like bird-watching, or reading, or mountains), and I had no idea there was so much to say about silence and its effects.

But obviously there is a lot to say about silence (and, when you think of it, why shouldn't there be?). Sara Maitland has done a fine job here both in extensively researching what other people have said and written about silence, but also sets out to experience silence in all its shapes and forms herself (like Thoreau, to whom she frequently refers, settling on Walden pond). I couldn't help thinking that - if circumstances were different and, to name but one, I wouldn't be married and father to three (adorable) small children - I could very well have ended up settling on some desolate moor myself.

So perhaps it comes as no surprise that I enjoyed this book. At the very least I was always intrigued and curious, at times envious of some of the experiences she had. Inevitably, much of what she writes is personal and subjective (how could it be other?). One of the major reasons why Maitland actively sought (and seeks, I presume) silence is to pray, and if you're not a praying person yourself (such as I), it is sometimes difficult to 'understand' her when she writes about this, or to appreciate the importance she obviously attaches to it. Likewise, on occasion I doubted the validity of some of the statements she makes (for instance when she argues that 'the antisocial, even violent, behaviour in younger people in the West at present must be related to a lack of silence and a lack of training in how to use silence.').

Be that as it may, this is nevertheless still a very thought-provoking book and one that, judging by the other reviewers' comments, comes at the right time and answers a very real need with many people.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


‹ Previous | 1 26 | Next ›
Most Helpful First | Newest First
ARRAY(0xb8299744)

This product

A Book of Silence
A Book of Silence by Sara Maitland (Paperback - 3 Aug 2009)
6.99
In stock
Add to basket Add to wishlist
Only search this product's reviews