Saturday, October 3, 2009

Return to Gone-Away - Elizabeth Enright

Return To Gone-Away
Elizabeth Enright
Original Copyright Date: 1961

The description:
Summer has a magic all its own in Elizabeth Enright's beloved stories about two children and their discovery of a ghostly lakeside resort. These two modern classics are once again available in Odyssey/Harcourt Young Classic editions, but now with handsome new cover art by Mary GrandPré to complement Beth and Joe Krush's original interior illustrations.

Return to Gone-Away is the sequel to Elizabeth Enright's book Gone-Away Lake, which I reviewed here a couple of days ago.

At the end of the that book, Portia and Julian had found one of the abandoned houses that had been set away from the old lake and shut up very tightly - the Villa Caprice. When they showed it to their parents, the adults started discussing the possibility of buying the old house from the government.

At the beginning of Return to Gone-Away, it turns out that they managed to do so. This is the story of the family's rebuilding the place over the summer, the discoveries that Portia, Julian, Foster and their friends make while doing so, and more stories and memories from the two residents of the old houses by the lake.

No violence or inappropriate language, and yet there's a wonderfully fun and sweet story. Beautifully illustrated as well by Beth and Joe Krush, just as the first book of the pair was.

The characters are just as interesting this time too: Portia's still a bit of a tomboy, Julian's still set on becoming a scientist (and well on his way there already, given his collecting habits). Minnie and Pin are still as eccentric as ever, but wonderfully nice to the kids and their families.

Despite being half a century old, Return to Gone-Away isn't especially dated at all. Although, I can't think that any parent today would let their kids wander around an abandoned house the way these kids do. Mold, mildew, and what if the place collapsed. Lawsuit city! It was definitely a more relaxed time when children were freer to do their own thing all day (at least in the summer).

The book is marketed for children from nine to twelve years of age. If their reading is up to it, I'd bet that younger children would like both Gone-Away Lake and Return To Gone-Away as well. Certainly older readers are sure to get a smile out of the books. I know I have.

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