Summer Of The Great Gr...
Madeleine L'Engle
Rate this book
Clear rating

Summer Of The Great Grandmother (Crosswicks Journals #2)

4.13 of 5 stars 4.13  ·  rating details  ·  1,372 ratings  ·  93 reviews
"Anyone who has dealt with, or will soon deal 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.
Published by Harpercollins Publisher (first published 1974)
more details... edit details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.
This book is not yet featured on Listopia. Add this book to your favorite list »

Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 2,243)
filter  |  sort: default (?)  |  rating details
Barbara Lovejoy
I had read other books my Madeleine like Wrinkle in Time and A Wind in the Door, but this book sounded entirely different. I don't remember now where I heard about it. I think it was mentioned in another book I was reading. Nevertheless, it was wonderful. My greatest take away was how important it is to share stories in our families. They will bless our lives.
Deborah Duke
I found this to be an easier read than A Circle of Quiet. In it we learn about L'Engle's childhood, about her mother's early years, and about her mother's family. It is really quite interesting. All of this is recorded in a contemplative style. The book is set during L'Engle's final summer with her mother, and it is obviously a bit sad at times, but never overly sentimental.

Quotes I liked:

"There is little character or loveliness in the face of someone who has avoided suffering, shunned risk, re...more
Melinda Ross
This book is the 2nd in a 4 or 5 part series. I only read this one for book group. I might have benefited by reading the first, only because my biggest complaint about the book is that the author refers to people at times and expects you to know who she is talking about. I am going to assume she introduces those people to us in the first book. Other than that, I think it is a fairly good stand alone book.

The book deals with the real life feelings and struggles of watching a parent enter a secon...more
L'Engle's memoir of the summer her 90-year-old mother took a steep decline into dementia (and ultimately passed away). I reacted to this book on three different and almost entirely separate levels:

1. It is impossible for me to talk about this book without mentioning the fact that my 89-year-old grandmother is currently undergoing a similar (but slower) decline. Some parts were eerily, almost uncomfortably familiar -- both the ways her mother is affected by her dementia and L'Engle's reactions to...more
While I didn't find this as strong as her other non-fiction, I really enjoyed her account of taking care of her mother in her last days. She openly discusses the grieving process, including the memories that flood you during this time. The mid-section is these memories, which is not as interesting as the beginning and end, hence the three star review.
Highly recommended, however.
Pam Reid
Madeleine L'Engle chronicles the last summer of her mother's life with love, honesty, and, yes, even her doubts. The loss of a beloved parent is one of the most difficult of life's experiences even though it is one of the most natural. I was deeply touched by L'Engle's struggle and quest for peace in this second journal of hers that I have read.
This is one of the first books I've read in a while that has let me cry - written beautifully, conveying emotions honestly and truthfully. I love L'Engle's autobiographical works. They make me feel a little bit "normal", and inspire me remarkably - to write, to read, even to do my homework!
Jennifer Boyer
I read this during June and July 2013, as my grandmother was dying. The impact her sudden illness and death had on our family was (and still is) shocking and brutal, and this book helped tremendously. Through L'Engle's description of her own mother's decline at the end of her life, I could see that some of what was happening is just part of the process of letting go.

It is, of course, beautifully written, but it is not overly sentimental. Or at least, it wasn't a tearjerker. It was a perfect thi...more
Miss Clark
"Mado died a year before I was born, and yet I feel that I have always known her, the stories about her are so vivid. I have never heard her name mentioned by anybody in our enormous Southern clan without its evoking a smile. There have been several Montague - Capulet schisms in my mother's family, but I have never heard an unloving word about Mado."

Part memoir, part remembrance and entirely a story. About her childhood and her relationship with her parents. About how she viewed her parents and...more
It is books like The Summer of the Great-Grandmother that help me to remember my passion for touching the past. Books like this that capture a bit of the wonder that I literally teeter on the edge of as I sit and listen to my own Grandmothers tell of their lives. With each of my four Grandmothers, I have talked & listened at great length. Two have now died. One, I have had the distinct pleasure of helping to finish her own memoirs. The fourth, I long to know better. I can relate to author Ma...more
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. In other words, my life story couldn't have happened without the stories of my mother, grandmother, great-grandmother, and so on. I embody many characteristics of these great women in my life. Perhaps knowing the stories of these women would enhance those wonderful qualities within myself. Fore, to know where and whom you come from is a powerful...more
Madeleine L'Engle, YA author extraordinaire, dealing with her mother's dementia, and using that as a background to tell us of her mother's life. Recognized a lot of emotions I felt when dealing with Dad (that we both think of it as "dealing with" our parent is one common conflict). L'Engle is deeply religious - at one point she talks about the need to practice praying, like she practices particularly difficult Bach Fugue. Practicing prayer is a concept that had never occured to me.
I love Madeleine L'Engle's honest struggles with the tough questions in life. I appreciate her willingness to recognize gray area and to recognize that there are things that cannot be expressed in words, that are beyond them. I resonate with so many of her writings.

I also loved reading all the stories of her childhood and her older relatives. It was fascinating and made me think that I should be asking my own family members about my ancestors.
I think I've read this three or four times. I know I read it around Easter in 1993, and it wasn't new to me then.
I re-read it last when my grandmother was dying, and I finished it on the plane coming home from her funeral. There are times when you need an old familiar book, when you know what it has to say to you is exactly right. This was one of those times.
Not only does Madeleine discuss the rapid deterioration of her mother (who was ill with senility due to atherosclerosis -- some similaritie...more
This book is a beautiful tribute to L'Engle's mother and chronicles much of what L'Engle knows about her family history as well as the final summer she spent nursing her mother before the latter's death. The family biography portions were interesting to read and show L'Engle's fine storytelling skills, but to me they weren't as strong as the portions where L'Engle muses more generally on living, being, dying, and mourning.
I LOVED the first Crosswicks Journal (Circle of Quiet), in this second journal Madeleine shares the last summer she took caring for her dying mother. The writing is beautiful, but the topic did not touch me like the first journal did. There were wonderful thought provoking passages though, like this one:

Perfectionism is imprisoning. As long as I demand it, in myself or anybody else, I am not free and all my life I've believed that freedom is important, that, despite all our misuse and abuse of i...more
The second of Madeleine L'Engle's Crosswicks memoirs tells the story of her last summer with her mother, who is dying of what she calls atherosclerosis, but sounds like Alzheimer's. (It was the 70s - I'm not sure how much they knew about Alzheimer's then.) To combat her mother's loss of memory and awareness, L'Engle recounts her own memories of her mother and what she knows about her early life and family background. In between the flashbacks, she reflects on her struggle to deal with her mother...more
A great book that everyone with aging adults, or with elderly parents who have recently passed, should read. The book is written during the final summer of L'Engle's mother's life, detailing her decline into senility and death. As in The Circle of Quiet, there are four generations of the family living in the L'Engle household. In this, the second of the Crosswick's Journal, the dignity of the elderly is affirmed. At the same time all the problems, frustrations, guilt and pain of watching her mot...more
After reading, and enjoying the first of the Crosswicks Journals, 'A Circle of Quiet', I was pleased to be able to borrow the second of them from a friend. This is the story of the summer when Madeleine L'Engle's mother was in the last stages of Alzheimer's disease, frail and forgetful, yet still an important member of the family.

The book consists of reflections about the past, anecdotes from the author's childhood, stories she had heard about her mother and her own grandparents and many other r...more
Monica Connerly
I liked reading about L'Engle's family history and hearing about how she related to her family members-especially her mother. I felt there was a lot of autobiographical wisdom in the book on the part of the author but with one caveat that took away from the gracious tone of the book: L'Engle held an apparent condescension towards others who did not share her particular ideas about certain aspects of spirituality. For me, introducing those aspects seemed out of place in the scheme of the novel be...more
Bronwen Newcott
This is the second book in the series of of Madeleine L'Engle's journals. As usual, L'Engle is thoughtful and aptly captures complexities of reality: Here, describing the summer that her rapidly aging mother dies, L'Engle allows the sadness, ambiguity, tensions, guilt, discomfort, confusion and relief to surface and co-exist. She spends more time in this book than in others I've read documenting family history and telling family stories. Though I enjoyed most of the background (and was impressed...more
Deborah Moscoso
Strange as it may seem, this is my first L'Engle book. I loved it; I may even get my own personal copy. But first I want to read the other biographical works in this series.
A book I'll want to re-read in different stages of my life. So rich with insight, honesty, and great family stories. Love her.

"How many people have been born, lived rich, loving lives, laughed and wept, been part of creation, and are now forgotten, unremembered by anybody walking the earth today?
Our memories are, at best, so limited, so finite, that it is impossible for us to envisage an unlimited, infinite memory, the memory of God. It is something I want to believe in: that no atom of creatio...more
Laurel Wicke
Madeleine L'Engle turns herself inside out in this book. Rarely does an author allow themselves to be so transparent. This is an author working through the myriad of emotions that come with watching and caring for a parent in decline, but also one who is paying a lasting tribute to not only her other but her ancestors. I found is thought provoking and insightful but somewhat disjointed. It reads like a journal, but that is what gives it its raw honesty.
Touching memoir about the decisions made about the elderly great-grandmother (Madeleine's mother) and the interesting histories of her family. Thoughtful representation of the progression of disease and dementia and how it affects a family and one personally. Her analogy of the sea as one's mind, with her mother burying deeper into the sea while coming less and less above the surface, was a particularly compelling image for me.
I enjoy reading Madeleine L'Engle's journals. She has some interesting insights and writes in a way that keeps your attention. That being said, there was a segment of the book that took me a little bit longer to read through. It was a lot of family history and I had a hard time connecting it to the story she was weaving about her mother. Perhaps other people aren't as dense as I but that was my experience. Overall, a good read.
Yvonne Carter
I read this book long before my mother or my mother-in-law were living in their last couple of years. And my mind would race back to comments Madeleine L'Engle would write. Madeleine L'Engle brings her mother to stay the summer at her home and watches her age rapidly mentally and physically. LShe discusses her feelings as to aging parents -- reminessences of childhood and family history. Her mother dies at the end of that summer.
Pam Kennedy
Jun 02, 2014 Pam Kennedy is currently reading it  ·  review of another edition
This book caught my eye today as I browsed the eclectic collection of new and used books at Green Mountain Books in Lyndon, Vermont. I was introduced to L'Engle's non-fiction by my friend, Carol, who lent me Tow Part Invention, a wonderful portrait of a marriage. This book is supposed to address aging, a topic that both intrigues and repels me as I make my way through my sixties and towards the next chapter of my life.
It takes me so long to read anything these days. Alas. I didn't intend for it to take all of February for me to read this book, but it's appropriate in the end as this month for me has become the season of my mother's death. I enjoyed this memoir of L'Engle's mother and extended family woven in with the difficult story of her mother's last summer. I wish I had as detailed a hold on my family history and mythology as she had.
There is something about Madeleine L'Engle that makes me want to sit down and write!!
She writes of the summer that she watches her mother decline at her family's country house. Not afraid to admit what she's thinking and feeling, she really grabbed me and pulled me into her life.
I read this book at the time that I was grieving the loss of my mother, and her words comforted me, challenged me, and inspired me.
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 74 75 next »
There are no discussion topics on this book yet. Be the first to start one »
  • The Quotidian Mysteries: Laundry, Liturgy and Women's Work (Madeleva Lecture in Spirituality)
  • The Sacred Journey: A Memoir of Early Days
  • Leaving Church: A Memoir of Faith
  • Road Song: A Memoir
  • The Mind of the Maker
  • The Genesee Diary: Report from a Trappist Monastery
  • Beyond Our Selves
  • Jesus Girls: True Tales of Growing Up Female and Evangelical
  • Grey is the Color of Hope
  • Listening for Madeleine: A Portrait of Madeleine L'Engle in Many Voices
  • Christian Mythmakers: C.S. Lewis, Madeleine L'Engle, J.R.R. Tolkien, George MacDonald, G.K. Chesterton, Charles Williams, Dante Alighieri, John Bunyan, Walter Wangerin, Robert Siegel, and Hannah Hurnard
  • Plain and Simple: A Journey to the Amish
  • Writing a Woman's Life
  • The House by the Sea
  • Watch for the Light: Readings for Advent and Christmas
  • Sweet Summer: Growing up with and without My Dad
  • The Duchess of Bloomsbury Street
  • Crusade for Justice: The Autobiography of Ida B. Wells
Madeleine L'Engle was an American writer best known for her Young Adult fiction, particularly the Newbery Medal-winning A Wrinkle in Time and its sequels A Wind in the Door, A Swiftly Tilting Planet, and Many Waters. Her works reflect her strong interest in modern science: tesseracts, for example, are featured prominently in A Wrinkle in Time, mitochondrial DNA in A Wind in the Door, organ regener...more
More about Madeleine L'Engle...
A Wrinkle in Time (Time, #1) A Wind in the Door (Time, #2) A Swiftly Tilting Planet (Time, #3) Many Waters (The Time Quintet, #4) A Ring of Endless Light (Austin Family, #5)

Share This Book

“It's a very American trait, this wanting people to think well of us. It's a young want, and I am ashamed of it in myself. I am not always a good daughter, even though my lacks are in areas different from her complaints. Haven't I learned yet that the desire to be perfect is always disastrous and, at the least, loses me in the mire of false guilt?” 14 likes
“I used to feel guilty about spending morning hours working on a book; about fleeing to the brook in the afternoon. It took several summers of being totally frazzled by September to make me realize that this was a false guilt. I'm much more use to family and friends when I'm not physically and spiritually depleted than when I spend my energies as though they were unlimited. They are not. The time at the typewriter and the time at the brook refresh me and put me into a more workable perspective.” 13 likes
More quotes…