fiction favorites…Gone-Away Lake

Portia and Julian drew in a breath of surprise at exactly the same instant, because at the northeast end of the swamp, between the reeds and the woods, and quite near to them, they saw a row of wrecked old houses.  There were perhaps a dozen of them; all large and shabby, though once they must have been quite elaborate, adorned as they were with balconies, turrets, widows’ walks, and lacy wooden trimming.  But now the balconies were sagging and the turrets tipsy; the shutters were crooked or gone, and large sections of wooden trimming had broken off.  There was a tree sticking out of one of the windows… everything was as still as death…

Just at that moment, in the last house on the right-hand side they heard a curious crackling sound; and then an enormous voice began to speak.

Gone-Away Lake is a great summer adventure story by the well-loved and prize-winning author, Elizabeth Enright. 

 11-year-old Portia and her little brother Foster always spend the summer with their cousin Julian, enjoying the freewheeling independence of life in the country.  This particular summer is remarkable, because Portia and Julian make a fantastic discovery on one of their country rambles:  a collection of once-elegant, but now dilapidated summer homes border what was a lake but is now a murky swamp.  At first glance, the whole scene looks like a ghost town.   It isn’t long, though, before the cousins meet  two charming and antiquated residents — Minnehaha Cheever and Pindar Payton.   Who are they?  Why are they living there?  What was this place before it fell into disrepair?  And can Portia and Julian keep their amazing discovery a secret from the rest of the world?

From quaint refreshments to heart-sickening danger, from mysterious attics to magical bog gardens, this story is packed with unusual details that capture our imaginations.  It’s great for reading aloud, and for re-reading, too!  Gone-Away Lake is a  Newbery Honor title from 1957.  It has a sequel, Return to Gone-Away, for those who want to know more of Julian and Portia’s adventures.  Try this one  for a fun summer vacation treat!