A Live Coal in the Sea

When Dr. Camilla Dickinson’s teenage granddaughter confronts her with the disquieting question of whether Camilla is, in fact, her grandmother, long-kept secrets rise to the surface to test the faith, love and loyalty of the Xanthakos family. This skillful, gripping tale shuttles between past and troubled present, providing clues to a multigenerational mystery — clues that begin to focus on Camilla’s son, the deeply troubled TV idol Artaxias, and on Camilla’s mother, the irresistibly beautiful and adulterous Rose. Though riveting and psychologically complex, A Live Coal in the Sea is “infused with the warmth of love and mercy” (Booklist), showcasing the keen eye and deep compassion that have made L’Engle one of this century’s premier writers on faith and its place in human experience.

Originally published in 1996.

Genre: Adult fiction

Other Books in the Series

A Live Coal in the Sea


“Explosive family secrets are defused by love, wisdom, and a foreshadowed revelation, in this latest intricately plotted adult novel by L’Engle.”
-Kirkus Reviews, 1997

“[A Live Coal in the Sea] is classical L’Engle fiction, with intellectualism, philosophical quotes, and astrophysical musings thrown in liberally. But this book is more than that. It is for those who have been broken, who have come face to face with the world’s brokenness, and their own deep need for mercy. It models, gently, how to move through unspeakable heartache, to a place of mercy on the other side.”
-Karen, Goodreads, 2016

“Madeleine L’Engle is most known for her young adult award winning titles. Her adult titles are just as well written if not even better. A LIVE COAL IN THE SEA is perhaps the best. If I could only recommend one book, it would probably be this title. It will leaving you gasping.”
-Granny Reader, Amazon, 2006


“A Conversation with Madeleine L’Engle”
Heather Webb, 1996 / Mars Hill Review