I just finished reading Return to Gone-Away by Elizabeth Enright to the children and we all thoroughly enjoyed it. We listened to Gone-Away Lake, a 1958 Newberry Honor book, on audio tape during December and couldn’t wait to read on.
Gone-Away Lake and Return to Gone-Away are the type of books my children seem to love. Each book describes everyday children having adventures which are quite believable but just out of the reach of most city children. There is a lake to discover, a deserted town to roam around and eccentric but welcoming old people to form firm friendships with. There is a club and a clubhouse to set up. As A10 explained to me, “There are the right people with the right people.”
Julian and Portia are two of the right people, they are cousins who spend their summers together. While exploring the country side near Julian’s home one afternoon they venture further than ever before and meet two more of “the right people” Mrs Minnehaha Cheever and her brother Mr Pindar Payton. That is their introduction to Gone-Away Lake which was once Tarrigo, a lakeside resort town. After the lake turned into the a swamp the summer residents stopped coming and the elegant homes fell into varying states of decline. Minnehaha and her brother grew up coming to Tarrigo every summer, and returned to spend the rest of their days in two of the dilapidated houses, cut off from the rest of the world.
The houses and surrounding countryside are full of things to discover and that is exactly what Julian, Portia and her brother Foster do. In following their adventures we are amused and intrigued. As L12 said to me Elizabeth Enright describes the little things. Aunt Minnehaha dresses herself in the clothes left behind by her mother and sisters fifty years earlier and Elizabeth Enright describes the outfits with just the right amount of detail.
In Return to Gone-Away Portia’s family have all come for the summer to live in the Villa Caprice, which they now own. There is much for Portia, Julian and Foster to discover as the house is restored, repaired and lived in. The story meanders around the country side as the children pursue different adventures and mysteries. The spotlight stops on the boys, or the girls, Aunt Minnehaha, Uncle Pin or the house itself. The story’s ending is quite satisfying but we can’t help wishing Elizabeth Enright had written just one more.