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The Summer of the Elder Tree

Marie Chaix; translated by Harry Mathews | June 1, 2013


A meditation on the themes of separation and silence, The Summer of the Elder Tree was Marie Chaix’s first book to appear in fourteen years, and deals with the reasons for her withdrawal from writing, as well as the events in her life since the death of her mother (as detailed in Silences, or a Woman’s Life). With uncompromising sincerity, and in the same beautiful prose for which she is renowned, Marie Chaix here takes stock of her life as a woman and writer, as well as the crises that caused her to give up her work. The Summer of the Elder Tree has its roots in Chaix’s previous books while standing alone as a work of immense power: a new beginning.



Marie Chaix, born in Lyons and raised in Paris, is the author of nine books, seven of them autobiographical, two of them novels. She became famous at the appearance of her first work, The Laurels of Lake Constance, translated by Harry Mathews, in which she retraces the life of her collaborationist father and that of her family during the postwar years. The Summer of the Elder Tree, a memoir and meditation on the theme of separation, was published in Paris in 2005, her first book to appear in fourteen years. The mother of two daughters by a first marriage, Marie Chaix is married to the writer Harry Mathews and spends half of each year in America and half in France.