Newbery Verdict: Gone Away Lake

Gone Away Lake // by Elizabeth Enright

gone-awayNewbery Honor Book (1958)
Genre: MG, Contemporary (Historical)
Rating: 2.5 Stars*

(Note: *Sorry, Elizabeth Enright, I usually LOVE your books, but I just couldn’t love this one. Although, I think that I’d probably have given it a higher rating if I were a kid reading it.)

Basic Plot: Portia and Foster are a sister and brother, who along with their cousin, Julian, discover secrets of a forgotten lake-side community called Gone-Away Lake.

MY THOUGHTS…

Gone-Away Lake and the old houses are uber-cool! As a child, I would have really liked this and as an adult I did. Bonus points! I liked Mrs. Cheever and Mr. Payton who were a little like Miss Havisham, but in a good way. I enjoyed the old stories about the people who summered at the lake. Rescuing the cats. The Philosopher’s stone. These stories in themselves are worth the read.

However, I wasn’t crazy about the main characters. I didn’t hate them, but I didn’t love them either. Then when the grown-ups come in, some of the magic disappeared. (And I’m not talking about the Gone-Away grown-ups).

FAVOURITE QUOTE…

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, not into it but out of it. And everything was as still as death.

“Now who would go and build a lot of houses on the edge of a mosquitoey old swamp like that?” inquired Julian. But the next time he spoke it was in a whisper. “Porsh! Those houses are empty! They’re all deserted, Porsh! It’s a ghost town.”

(Chapter 2)

NEWBERY VERDICT…

This book was published in 1958. I hate to say that I don’t think it has aged very well. I love, love, love this author’s The Saturdays (and its sequels). I wish I could say the same for this book. That said, I do think I probably would have loved reading it as a child, just because of the old, abandoned ghost town. However, the mark of a truly great children’s book is for an adult to pick it up and love it (despite not being a child anymore). Did I just read this book too late??

YOUR TURN…

Have you read this book? What are your thoughts? Did you read this a kid? Did you love it? Am I being too harsh on this book? Let me know in the comments!


Newbery Verdict Reading Challenge: This is a personal challenge for me to read books that have either won the Newbery Medal, or are a Newbery Honor book. The Newbery is named for eighteenth-century British bookseller John Newbery. Since 1922, this annual award has given to the author of the “most distinguished contribution to American literature for children.” A Newbery Honor book is given to the runners-up.

14 thoughts on “Newbery Verdict: Gone Away Lake

  1. Noooo! So sorry to hear that you didn’t like this one. I absolutely loved it (and I was only introduced to it a s a grown up) and have red it quite a few times- it is a bit eccentric in the sense but I loved the idea of a lost community and Pindar and Aunt Minnie, I liked very much. The sequel I also like but not as much as this one

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Not heard of it before, so perhaps it wasn’t published in UK. But, chances are I’d have enjoyed it as a child. I remember liking (junior) whodunit types and time-slip mysteries, though I don’t remember titles or authors’ names.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. A retired children’s librarian, I’ve read most of the Newbery Awards. I’ve read this twice — once as a child and once as an adult. I have to say I loved it both times. But perhaps I loved it the second time because of the first? And I have to admit that I can’t remember the adults you are referring to… maybe I need to read it a third time😃

    Liked by 1 person

    • I’m glad your experience was not like mine. I really SHOULD like this book. And I was so excited to read it! 😦

      You sound like my type of librarian… one that actually READS! (I don’t get some of the people who work at my library. They don’t seem to have that love of books that they want to share with everybody.)

      Liked by 1 person

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