Reviews from the Children's Section - Gone Away Lake + Return to Gone Away
One of my favorite genres and one that is the easiest for me to push aside is middle grade fiction. This year to make sure I get a little more children's and young adult fiction I thought I would designate the first Monday of every month Middle Grade Monday. While a lot of my picks this year are classics I am trying to branch out a little bit and read new or at least recent releases. Elizabeth Enright was a favorite author when I was a child but somehow I didn't discover these until I was an adult.
Gone Away Lake by Elizabeth Enright -If I was picking by favorite children's book this would probably be it. I love this book so much! Portia and her little brother Foster have come to stay with her aunt and uncle and most importantly her cousin Julian. Portia and Julian are about the same age and the best of friends. They love to explore and have adventures and this particular summer they have their biggest one yet when they stumble on a community of abandoned houses around a lake long turned into a swamp. The place isn't a secret but between the mosquitoes and the mud no one goes there or really talks about it much. However, not all the houses are abandoned and soon Portia and Julian discover Minniehala and her brother Pin, an elderly brother and sister who retired to the place they were happy as children. They're delightful, incredibly resourceful, and a little lonely. From the time of the discovery Portia and Julian's days are full with exploring and making Gone Away their own playground. I love their interactions with Minnehala and Pin and watching the friendship between the two sets of siblings/cousins grow. Min's joy at hearing children's voices around the old falling down houses is especially poignant. This book is full of adventures and stories and just wonderful fun. Rating: Loved it!
Return to Gone-Away by Elizabeth Enright - This is the sequel to Gone-Away and starts just a few months after the first book ends. Portia's family have purchased Villa Caprice, once owned by the formidable and very wealthy Mrs. Brace-Gideon. The Blakes have purchased the house fully furnished and the adventures they having exploring the house is such fun. While the whole cast of characters is back in this book most of the action revolves around exploring and renovating Villa Caprice and learning about the former owner and the book is lacking some of the adventures of the previous book. While I know this book isn't as good I can't help but loving it because I love the whole premise so much and I loved the idea of exploring this old house bursting with possessions and stories of the previous owner. Rating: Loved it!
This is a book that I think is just as enjoyable for adults as it is for children. The children are likable and all the adventures they have are so entertaining. Plus, who doesn't want to have their very own Victorian mansion for their clubhouse? If you've ever driven past an abandoned house and wondered at its story these two books are for you.