Five years have elapsed since Pip and Emma (1986, p. 387); Emma returns to her grandmother's Vermont farm to care for the animals and record the experience in a journal as a school project. But ""Gee"" has just become terminally ill; hoping to hold on to her independence as long as possible, she asks Emma to keep her impending death secret from her five children. So begins a poignant, carefully wrought picture of a vigorous, productive woman's declining last summer, paralleled with a young girl's awakening to her own power--competence, emotional maturity, the ability to love as an adult--played against a succession of golden summer days. The author shows remarkable growth since the earlier book. The setting is wonderfully authentic, from the date of peonies' blooming to odors, distant views and weather. Characterizations are similarly well drawn; the events leading herself, in Jim (the young lawyer who comes to write a growth and changes in Gee herself, Jim (the young lawyer who comes to write a will and becomes a close friend), and especially in Emma, who takes on increasing responsibility as the summer progresses. Gee's death occurs before Emma's long-anticipated end-of-summer birthday party, when the whole family gathers as planned; yet, in a more credible and muted reiteration of the promise of a joyful transition to a life beyond that introduced in Pip and Emma, Emma is sure that, after all, Gee has kept her promise to be there. Without the melodrama of its predecessor, this sequel should keep readers enthralled.