Form and Content

(Critical Edition of Young Adult Fiction)

The Summer of the Great-Grandmother is a biographical account of the life of young adult and Christian author Madeleine L’Engle’s mother, Madeleine Barnett Camp. Because L’Engle has two grandchildren, and there were four living generations in her family in 1972, the author chose to refer to her mother as “the great-grandmother.” The book is a four-part work of L’Engle’s experiences, reflections, and feelings concerning the death and dying of her mother and of her search for a peaceful spiritual understanding and acceptance of this event.

The parts interweave events of the summer of 1972 with events of L’Engle’s remembered past and the distant past of her maternal family. Each part consists of short chapters, which comprise one or more vignettes. At the beginning of each part, there is a photograph of the great-grandmother, depicting her as she appeared during the relevant time period.

The Summer of the Great-Grandmother begins in the early summer of 1972, when L’Engle, her husband, and two younger generations arrived at their summer home in Crosswicks, Connecticut, with the great-grandmother due shortly. Once the year-round home of L’Engle and her husband, this two-hundred-year-old farmhouse was a place filled with memories of L’Engle’s young married life and of a younger, vibrant mother. Then, it became the setting for the sad but inevitable waning of her mother’s life.


(The entire section is 479 words.)


(Critical Edition of Young Adult Fiction)

Bloom, Harold, ed. Women Writers of Children’s Literature. Philadelphia: Chelsea House, 1998.

Chase, Carole F. Suncatcher: A Study of Madeleine L’Engle and Her Writing. Philadelphia: Innisfree Press, 1998.

Hein, Rolland. Christian Mythmakers: C. S. Lewis, Madeleine L’Engle, J. R. Tolkien, George MacDonald, G. K. Chesterton, Charles Williams, Dante Alighieri, John Bunyan, Walter Wangerin, Robert Siegel, and Hannah Hurnard. Chicago: Cornerstone Press, 2002.

Hettinga, Donald R. Presenting Madeleine L’Engle. New York: Twayne, 1993.

Shaw, Luci, ed. The Swiftly Tilting Worlds of Madeleine L’Engle. Wheaton, Ill.: Harold Shaw, 1998.