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 A loving celebration of those special refuges of childhood that are forever the measure of happiness for those fortunate enough to have known them. The intensity of the joy that novelist Arthur (Binding Spell, 1988, etc.) found in the five perfect seasons that she spent in the early 60's at Camp Wynakee in Vermont's Green Mountains was as much a reflection of the experience itself as a contrast to the rest of her life--about which she's rather reticent. Like a starving prisoner, she spent the months between camp-visits living on carefully apportioned memories of the summer before: ``I wanted to savor the summer in small mouthfuls so that it would last the whole year, and the month of September might see me eating just the first week, just the first day even. I was amazed at how much of the camp I could take with me if I slowed down in this manner.'' Arthur describes a summer at camp: the proper outfit she brought, so that the whole camp became her ``single outer garment''; the camp owners, who tried to help their charges ``discover the qualities we could be proud of''; the daily routine; special events like hikes to Bat Cave, the Fourth of July parade, and, best of all, Klondike Day. On this day, every camper took part in a search for the Klondike Stone, a large, hidden rock painted gold: The search was as much a holy quest as an exciting break in routine, a quest that epitomized all Arthur felt for the place and all that she'd learned there. Even if ``as the years have passed, and I have again brought my bag home empty, it seems I'm always getting nearer. In a way the more time I spend looking, the better I will like it.'' Like the author's camp memories, better savored than wolfed down: a splendid evocation of wisdom acquired in a demi-Eden by a writer of great grace and sensitivity.

Pub Date: June 9th, 1993
ISBN: 0-679-41894-6
Page count: 368pp
Publisher: Knopf
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1st, 1993