Friday, October 10, 2014

Friday Favorites: Gone-Away Lake

Gone-Away Lake by Elizabeth Enright

Recommended for: All Ages

Rating: G

Summer has a magic all its own.

When Portia sets out for a visit with her cousin Julian, she expects fun and adventure, but of the usual kind: exploring in the woods near Julian's house, collecting stones and bugs, playing games throughout the long, lazy days.

this summer is different.

On their first day exploring, Portia and Julian discover an enormous boulder with a mysterious message, a swamp choked with reeds and quicksand, and on the far side of the swamp...a ghost town.

Once upon a time the swamp was a splendid lake, and the fallen houses along its shore an elegant resort community. But though the lake is long gone and the resort faded away, the houses still hold a secret life: two people who have never left Gone-Away...and who can tell the story of what happened there.

Gone-Away Lake is full of good memories. I remember my mom getting it from the library and reading it to my sisters and me during lunch. I have since revisited it and it's surprisingly good sequel countless times.

Gone-Away Lake is a fun story. The discovery of the abandoned summer homes and the people who still live there makes an intriguing premise. And the fact that the two people living there were some of the people who lived there during the summer at the turn of the century makes it even neater. Aunt Minnehaha and Uncle Pin, as Portia and Julian begin to call them, tell wonderful stories of their childhood when Gone-Away was still Tarrigo, a lake surrounded by beautiful summer homes. The story of the knife and the buttonhook is one I really love, and Mrs. Brace-Gideon's summer cats.

Portia and Julian have their own adventures exploring Gone-Away, and Portia's brother Foster is not left out either. Well, they try to, but it doesn't work out and they learn their lesson. Falling in the Gulper, the thunderstorm at Craneycrow, the Machine, A.P. Decoction, the Philosopher's Club, the Gulper's such a wonderful and eventful summer.

The characters are so well drawn, from Portia and Julian to Baby-Belle Tuckertown and Mrs. Brace-Gideon. I can't help but love them. Not Mrs. Brace-Gideon, though, or Tarquin Tuckertown's friend Edward Cleveland Bailey. But you aren't supposed to like them. The rest are simply amazing.

They have a beautiful summer, that comes to an end with yet another discovery, one that leads wonderfully into Return to Gone-Away. The Villa Caprice, guarded at the back door by "Baron Bloodshed, fallen on hard times."

And what adventures they have! Dumbwaiters, swimming holes, suits of armor, collapsed staircases, Baby-Belle's French governess, hidden safes...just as wonderful a summer as the one before.

Gone-Away Lake is a wonderful place. I just love it there. And the story of what happens there is so beautifully told. Elizabeth Enright is a Newbery Award winning author, after all.

I highly recommend the Gone-Away Lake books. They are delightful stories I can't wait to share with any children I have in the future.

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