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The Summer of the Great-Grandmother (Crosswicks Journal, Book 2) Paperback – January 1, 1984

4.4 out of 5 stars 26 customer reviews
Book 2 of 4 in the Crosswicks Journal Series

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Editorial Reviews

Review

"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"

From the Back Cover

This journal offers a loving and poignant portrait of L'Engle's mother in old age that is more about living than dying.
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Product Details

  • Series: Crosswicks Journal, Book 2
  • Paperback: 256 pages
  • Publisher: HarperOne; Reissue edition (January 1, 1984)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 006254506X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0062545060
  • Product Dimensions: 5.3 x 0.6 x 8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 15.2 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (26 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #68,993 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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More About the Author

Madeleine L'Engle, the popular author of many books for children and adults, has interspersed her writing and teaching career with raising three children, maintaining an apartment in New York and a farmhouse of charming confusion which is called "Crosswicks."

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
I have lived with my grandmother for two and a half years, watching her slowly slip farther into senility. L'Engle's narrative of her mother's last summer connected with me -- it was helpful to hear another's struggles, and to know I am not the only one who has prayed for the death of a loved one.
My grandmother is gone: she was an artist, a world-traveller, a cook. Now, she does not know me, she doesn't remember her children (except my aunt who has been a constant in her life), she can't "do for herself" anymore. I just want her to have life back. I was touched by the way L'Engle put that --to be born again through death.
I also enjoyed hearing about the life of two fascinating and wonderful women, both L'Engle and her mother. The book is a substantial, warm, human look into L'Engle's thoughts and her family.
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Format: Paperback
Many middle aged women are the sandwich generation, caught in between caring for their children and their elderly mothers. L'Engle has written about being a mother and the meaning of family in her Crosswick Journal series. This one, however, is about the roots of the family, with its memories, and the passing of the generations. It is also about the heartbreaking labor and burden of caring for the elderly. But this memoir, which combines the stories of her ancestors' strengths in struggles, places these stories as a context in which one contemplates the problems of age, the struggles of feeding and caring for one at the end of life. The result is a satisfying string of essays into the eternal meaning of Family.
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Format: Paperback
L'Engle confronts issues of death and dying in her experience of the death of her mother. But she also confronts issues of family history and the strength that the women in her family's history have exhibited. With each page I gained a greater respect for the trials that my ancestors have endured, and a greater curiosity to discover who my ancestors really were. The importance of story and passing on wisdom shines through L'Engle's account of her family experience. It explains why we should all feel compelled to pass on our history; to give our children deep roots so that they can understand themselves
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Format: Paperback
I'm a big fan of Madeleine L'Engle's non-fiction (regrettably, I have not yet read any of her fiction); I began with Walking on Water, and then moved on to A Circle of Quiet, from which I arrived here, at The Summer of the Great-Grandmother. There are themes that carry over from Walking and Circle, but for the most part, Summer is a different animal altogether.
Like A Circle of Quiet, the book is autobiographical and takes place at "Crosswicks," the L'Engle/Franklin home in Connecticut. As the title indicates, L'Engle's mother, freshly a great-grandmother, is living with them, and her health and cognitive ability is swiftly declining. Throughout the book--really, like A Circle of Quiet, a collection of journal entries--the author deals with losing the mother that she used to know to senility and incontinence, as well as the effects and ramifications of death.
I've never had anyone close to me die, so I can't relate to this book as much as I could to A Circle of Quiet or Walking on Water, but it's superbly written (L'Engle's words always seem to be alive and breathing), and I imagine that it would be a great comfort to those who are dealing with death.
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This is a lovely book that underscores the potential beauty of death as well as our responsiblity to the dying. Madeline writes this book as a tribute to her mother and to her mother's life during the summer that her mother lays dying in Madeline's Crosswicks home. The book has very strong echoes (read repetitive)of A Circle of Quiet and therefore should not be read immediately after reading that one. While I found her story interesting and sometimes fascinating, I did get bogged down in some of her listings of her family tree. But this was overall another lovely book that was thouroughly Madeline
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Format: Paperback
Madeleine L'Engle has long been one of my favorite authors so encountering the mind behind the fiction in her Crosswicks journals has been a privilege and a joy. "The Summer of the Great-Grandmother" is a meandering account of L'Engle's family history as she grapples with the unraveling of her mother's mind. As someone who has witnessed loved ones deteriorate in the same manner, portions of L'Engle's tale can be heartbreaking, but knowing that she asked the same questions is affirming and refreshing.

L'Engle begins her account with the changes that she has noticed in her mother who has come for her annual summer stay at Crosswicks. She is suffering from artherosclerosis and needs constant care, fears the unknown and unnameable, and is no longer the mother that L'Engle knew. L'Engle openly shares the joyous times - the memories of the fabulous life that her mother lived - alongside the difficult times - wondering if it's wrong to want her mother to die so she does not have to suffer. All the while, the reader sees L'Engle's struggle to reconcile her faith and reason, to know what is right concering honoring a loved one as they die, to come to terms with the births that come along with dying.

"The Summer of the Great-Grandmother" is a book that will offer solace for anyone who has experienced something similar or is all too familiar with death. Other reviewers have taken umbrage that L'Engle is preachy or revisionist; perhaps they are forgetting this is a private journal she made public, her emotions and opinions made bare not in an effort to instruct or coerce, but to offer insight and possibly some hope. Her family had more than its share of remarkable stories, but then it is no wonder that L'Engle herself would lead such an amazing life. It makes one wonder what the end was like for her, a woman who has touched so many lives through her writing, whose words will forever live on and enchant.
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