Born in Dubuque, IA; married Ned Tranel, January, 1957; children: five girls and five boys. Education: Clark College, B.A. (English and Spanish), 1955. Religion: Catholic.
Home—Billings, MT. Agent—c/o Author Mail, Knopf Publishing, 1745 Broadway, New York, NY 10019.
Ten Circles upon the Pond: Reflections of a Prodigal Mother (memoir), Knopf (New York, NY), 2003.
Essays published in magazines and anthologies, including the Notre Dame Press anthology Family.
Virginia Tranel is the author of Ten Circles upon the Pond: Reflections of a Prodigal Mother, a memoir about her experiences raising ten children, who were born between 1957 and 1978. The book recalls Tranel's enjoyment of her children as well as the anxieties she experienced and the outright criticisms she faced. Following her first child's birth in 1957, she entered a hectic but rewarding existence filled with frequent moves, the inevitable childhood illnesses (at one point she simultaneously nursed seven cases of chicken pox), and the making of homemade items like bread, butter, and even prom dresses. In the late 1960s, Tranel began to receive negative comments about having such a large family, which then numbered seven children. Each of the book's chapters is devoted to one child, tracing how he or she developed into an adult. Tranel, while pointing out that the "culture" of a large family is not for everyone, celebrates in the book the joys she found as a mother of ten and how she feels personally enriched by the experience.
The author's honesty and skill as a writer were commended by reviewers. Library Journal's Rachel Collins and Mirela Roncevic found that Tranel used "simple and poetic prose" while revealing how she "opened herself to new experiences rather than closing herself off, which is the usual perception." In PublishersWeekly, a critic remarked on Tranel's "overextended but always levelheaded musings" and exceptionally "frank discussions" of the criticism she faced. According to Joanne Wilkinson in Booklist, the memoir is "steeped in nostalgia, yet it could not be more timely." She noted that the author's "abiding faith in the power of family and human connection" will comfort readers. A Kirkus Reviews critic called the book "intelligent and candid, crafted in fine prose."
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:
Tranel, Virginia, Ten Circles upon the Pond: Reflections of a Prodigal Mother, Knopf (New York, NY), 2003.
Booklist, April 15, 2003, Joanne Wilkinson, review of Ten Circles upon the Pond: Reflections of a Prodigal Mother, p. 1434.
Daily Herald (Arlington Heights, IL), January 8, 2004, Pam DeFiglio, "Mom of Ten Fends Off Criticism of Big Families," p. 4.
Kirkus Reviews, March 15, 2003, review of Ten Circles upon the Pond, p. 450.
Library Journal, May 1, 2003, Rachel Collins and Mirela Roncevic, review of Ten Circles upon the Pond, p. 142.
Publishers Weekly, May 12, 2003, review of Ten Circles upon the Pond, p. 60.*