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on 26 December 2013
This book chronicles the author and journalist Sara Maitland's journey into deepening silence, and to quite a large degree, distancing herself from the hustle and bustle of `ordinary life'. Sara weaves together her own journey with thoughts and quotes from those who have made this journey before her, especially the desert fathers. In the book we follow Sarah from an extended solitary `retreat' on the Isle of Skye, in her visit to the desert of Sinai, and even to a flotation tank for a taste of `commercialised' silence. I found her writing style warm and relaxed, and I felt that we were sharing, so some extent, in her experiences. This reads in many places like a travelogue, but it is not a travelogue of places in particular, but rather it is a travelogue in her journey into silence and solitariness.

Being happily married I can't tread the same solitary and silent path as Sara Maitland. But she does still remind all of us that prayerful silence is not something just for the confessed religious; it is something we can all embrace in different ways in each of our lives.
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on 23 July 2017
Sara Maitland is a clear, concise, life affirming writer. Powerful, disturbing, honest and thought provoking book about the evolution of sound created by human beings. Go beyond what is expected of the ego and honour the soul to appreciate this book. It makes solitude a powerful experience and being alone positive when a person makes the choice.
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on 26 August 2012
This is an interesting book following one woman's exploration of the nature of silence.

Maitland looks at how silence has been seen and experienced by a variety of different people and groups over time, from the desert fathers to poets and solo adventurers. She then proceeds to explore these different silences for herself, travelling to a remote cottage on the Isle of Skye, the Sinai desert and into the hills of Galloway.

This is a well written work, part autobiography, part essay, part travelogue and will be an interesting read for those who appreciate silence and solitude.

Those for whom this work is of interest might also be interested in A Pelican in the Wilderness: Hermits, Solitaries and Recluses.
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on 4 December 2013
The author gives a lot of information,some of which is interesting, but doesn't always draw conclusions from it. For example, she describes different types of creation myth,some involving "the Word" (and therefore breaking The Silence) and some not, but doesn't say what conclusions she draws from this.The author seems to regard silence as an active agent, sometimes almost as a person or being, and I can't share that view. Silence is surely a absence of noise, or at least of language. People, or perhaps God, may work things in silence that are more difficult to achieve without that precondition, but it is they that act, not the silence.
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on 25 September 2013
The book wasn't quite what I expected but interesting nonetheless - exploring the experience of silence from human voices of solo sailors and arctic explorers, the total soundless silence of the desert, the chosen silence of hermits, the silence of death - but above all her own experience of noise and extroversion and a growing desire for solitude and silence; the record of her own experimenting with spending long lengths of time in silence in different places, with different landscapes and rhythms of nature and sounds or absence of sounds; it's effect on her; the coping with the adjustment and needs of other people in her life to this choice of trying to develop a largely silent life; and the place of silence in her awareness of God and her spiritual life. I found her personal journey fascinating - leading me to reflect on my own experience of the peace and presence of God in the quiet of dawn or the open space of moorland, sea or desert - though at times the descriptions a bit too long and wordy.
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on 17 April 2014
A reflective book that non-intrusively hands seeds of encouragement to the socialite and hermit alike. The seed, if nourished, delivering one to a layer of neglected inner-confidence. Allow yourself to listen (it whispers) not to others but your place, your presence, your higher-self.
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on 15 June 2017
Maitland's account of her journey into silence is open, honest and very accessible to the uninitiated. Silence is essential to our health and wellbeing and yet it is so hard to find in our noisy world. Maitland's example shows us how we too can walk that path towards our own inner peace and wellbeing.
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on 19 November 2016
I enjoyed this unusual read. Beautifully written and an interesting search by the author in search of silence. I liked the book because it was about the Isle of Skye, a place I love. It was an interesting take on how silence is such a precious state in such a noisy world.
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on 5 December 2013
At a time where we seem to be bombarded with all kinds of noise, this is a really interesting account of the author's experience of living in silent mode. It also looks into the history of 'silence'. I read this a while ago and thoroughly enjoyed it; it took me a while to get through because of the density of ideas, and the need for a 'quiet' environment in which to read it!
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on 22 May 2015
A very interesting and suggestive account of the author's adventures into 'silence' - an element with unexpected depths, a huge variety of expressions, and can be dangerous, threatening or life-giving - or all at once.
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