The Summer of the Great-Grandmother

In the second memoir of her Crosswicks Journals, Madeleine L’Engle chronicles a season of extremes. Four generations of family have gathered at Crosswicks, her Connecticut farmhouse, to care for L’Engle’s ninety-year-old mother. As summer days fade to sleepless nights, her mother’s health rapidly declines and her once astute mind slips into senility. With poignant honesty, L’Engle describes the gifts and graces, as well as the painful emotional cost, of caring for the one who once cared for you.

As she spends her days with a mother who barely resembles the competent and vigorous woman who bore and raised her, L’Engle delves into her memories, reflecting on the lives of the strong women in her family’s history. Evoking both personal experiences and universal themes, The Summer of the Great-Grandmother takes an unflinching look at diminishment and death, all the while celebrating the wonder of life.

Originally published in 1974.

Genre: Memoir

Other Books in the Series

The Summer of the Great Grandmother


“Anyone who has dealt with, or will soon with, the death of a parent will find some solace, understanding, and companionship in this perceptive book, which is, in the end, more about living than about dying.”
–The Washington Post

“A wonderful follow-up to A Circle of Quiet. L’Engle wrestles with life, death, identity, and the soul.”
–ladydusk, Goodreads, 2012

“If anything, this memoir reveals the importance of story. And not just the story of an individual but stories that make up the self on a genetic level.”
–Jennifer, Goodreads, 2013


“Book Ends / L’Engle’s Dozen”
Herbert Mitang, 1979 / The New York Times

“Now Reading: September 2015”
Justine Uhlenbrock, 2015 / Literary Mama blog

“The Summer of the Great-Grandmother – Madeleine L’Engle”
Claire, 2015 / The Captive Reader