Gone-Away Lake

Friday Fiction FixFor today’s Fiction Fix, I’m joining up with Emlyn Chand, YA fiction author for the “Books that Made Me Love Reading Challenge.” The idea is to read and review the books we read as children. Not so difficult for me, since I’m reading many of them again with my own children now. Although books were important in the home I grew up in, I can’t say they meant as much to my parents, or in the same way, as they do to me and my children. However, because of a well-stocked public school library, a good teacher or two who read aloud to the class, and a charmed sense for good books, I managed to discover a number of wonderful books during my childhood. Here are a few that stand out for me:

  1. Pinocchio
  2. Babar
  3. The Old Man and the Sea
  4. Where the Red Fern Grows
  5. When Hitler Stole Pink Rabbit
  6. Old Yeller
  7. The Mummy Market
  8. The Lion the Witch and the Wardrobe and the rest of the Narnia chronicles
  9. Little House on the Prairie
  10. Little Women
  11. Anne of Green Gables (and all the subsequent Anne books)

Later, I read The Hobbit and other books by Tolkein as well as the works of Jane Austen.

Unfortunately, our family saved few of the books I read as a child, which means I have to reach way into my memory banks to think of all the wonderful books I did read. In considering participating in this reading challenge, I did a little searching around for some of the books that have meant much to me while growing up. Some of them are now called “vintage” (we won’t talk about the implications of that), and are difficult to find–some priced so far out of my range, I’ll sadly not be able to share them with my children.

One book from my childhood haunted me. I remembered it in such vague terms–no title or author–just something about an out-of-the-way place, like a secret garden, but I knew the book wasn’t The Secret Garden. You can see how this might be frustrating. All I remembered was it was one of my favorite books as a child.

Then recently, I happened on a recommendation from Ambleside Online of the books of Elizabeth Enright. I bought a set of her books from eBay and started reading them to my children. Lo and behold, the elusive favorite book was among them: Gone Away Lake.

Gone Away Lake is the story of Portia Blake and her brother Foster who are traveling to visit their cousin. While there, they discover an almost-forgotten cluster of Victorian summer homes next to a bog–the lake that once was, but is now gone away. They meet the elderly inhabitants of Gone-Away Lake, siblings Mr. Payton and Mrs. Cheever, and spend a wonderful summer making a fort of one of the abandoned houses and keeping their activities secret from the other adults in their lives.

The-Books-That-Made-Me-Love-Reading-Challenge-Emlyn-ChandWhat’s wonderful about Enright’s writing is the picturesque language she uses. The story isn’t a fast-paced adventure, but a story of simpler times and simpler pleasures, and it was loved as much by my children when we read it together recently as it was by me as a child. And needless to say, I fell in love all over again.

What I didn’t know as a child and discovered with my children, is that there is a sequel: Return to Gone-Away. More reading pleasure. We also discovered Enright’s other books, for which she is actually more famous than the Gone-Away books.

For those of you who may be in the same quandry as me, looking for long-lost books, here are a few sources for digging up “vintage” books you may want to try:

  1. www.vintagechildrensbooksmykidloves.com/ A blog that’s exactly what it says it is. And brilliant.
  2. www.whatsthatbook.com/ – When, like me, you just can’t remember! B. Streetman of the vintage book blog above gave me this link when I shared with her my joy at finding her site.

So what are your all-time favorite childhood reads?

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  1. Kathy Bousquet says

    Hi Carey:

    Great to find you here, talking about one of my most favourite subjects – reading!

    I was born and raised in the UK so my most-read authors are British, and unfortunately, the vernacular in which many of my most favourite childhood books were written would make it difficult for Canadian children to read. They would likely stumble over words like lorry (truck), lift (elevator), fortnight (two weeks) etc!

    My favourites included all of Enid Blyton’s “The Famous Five” and “Secret Seven” series – exciting kid’s adventures (you can find them here: http://www.enidblyton.net/ books) and Arthur Ransome’s “Swallows and Amazons” series (http://arthur-ransome.org/Members/geraint/the-books/books/). Again, they are all thrilling, wholesome adventures for kids!

    I just purchased a Kobo Vox, so I am looking forward to downloading your book, and can’t wait to read it. I am also retreating into my childhood and, since they are free on Kobo Books, I am reading some (ancient) North American children’s authors, like Susan Coolidge who wrote the “What Katy Did” series – also very wholesome but a little bland for today’s kids I think, and “Anne of Green Gables” — lovely!

    Thanks for links – I’ll take some time to go there and explore!

    Look forward to keeping in touch with you here!

    • says

      I grew up on Enid Blyton’s books too, and my son is thoroughly engrossed in her Magic Faraway Tree series right now.

      Thanks for those additional links! I’ll definitely check them out.
      Carey Clark recently posted..Gone-Away LakeMy Profile

  2. says

    Great intro to the challenge, Carey. Gone Away Lake sounds like a book I would have loved back in the day, well, if I knew about it. Thank you for the links to classic kid’s faves. Luckily, most of my favorite childhood books are still pretty popular. Harold and the Purple Crayon was waiting for me at my local library. I still have to do my January review before starting in with Bunnicula for February. Aye yi yi!

    PS Like your buttons :-D

    • says

      Thanks Emlyn, for stopping by, and for your kind words. I adored Gone Away Lake just as much this time through–plus the additional delight of rediscovery and sharing of course. I loved Harold too, but sadly my earlier childhood wasn’t filled with as many of those kinds of classics–more the traditional fairy tale sort. I remember my grandmother reading The Snow Queen and being absolutely captivated by it. That’s one I’ll definitely have to share. The more I think about this topic, the more fond memories I recall. I may need more than 12 months for this…

      P.S. Thanks–you know what they say about imitation, right ;)
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