The Summer of the Great-grandmother by Madeleine L’Engle

This is the second book in the Crosswicks Journals. I really loved the first book, and I’m trying not to wait years to finish up series.

Published: 1974

Genre: memoir

Length: 245 pages

Setting: early 1970s, mostly Crosswicks, CT

Summary: Like the past few summers, Madeleine is joined at Crosswicks by her extended family, including her mother. This summer is different, though, because her mother is fading fast. Atherosclerosis has led to a mental decline. Madeleine bring in assistance to her mother. She also reminisces about her mother at younger ages. She starts with family life when she was a child. The family traveled often, at least until her father got too sick and Madeleine was sent to boarding school. Madeleine also explores her mother’s life as a child and her memories of relatives farther back on the family tree. Madeleine is worried about what to do with her mother after the summer is over, but her mother dies. A requiem is held at the house in Crosswicks, and a funeral in Florida.

Final thoughts: This one didn’t speak to me as strongly as A Circle of Quiet, but I think it’s just because I’m not at this stage in my life. I want to recommend the book to my mother-in-law, whose mother is living with her and slowly going senile, but it may hit too close to home. The structure of the book was interesting, starting in the present and moving farther and farther into the past. It also made the lives described increasingly different from what I’ve experienced. Even L’Engle’s life, traveling to various European countries and sent to boarding school, seemed so exotic and glamorous, at least on the surface. Of course, she was quick to point out the difficulties of that life as well as the good parts. We see L’Engle’s strong affinity to living life to the fullest while dealing with the looming threat of mortality throughout the book.

Title comes from: It’s the first line in the book. L’Engle felt the summer chronicled in the memoir centered around her mother, a great-grandmother to the youngest generation gathered at Crosswicks.

Reading challenges fulfilled: book #5 for the year, an S in my title Reading the Alphabet Challenge, and #2 for the Finish the Series Challenge

If you’re interested in purchasing the book, you can click on the cover image to follow an Amazon affiliate link to the book and thanks for supporting my blog!


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