QUOTES FROM REVIEWS OF LOOKING FOR
THE KLONDIKE STONE
Published by Alfred A. Knopf, June
Out of her five summers at Camp Wynakee in Dorset, Vermont,
Elizabeth Arthur has made a stunningly good book. [If you
prefer to read a novel] that novel had better be by someone
such as J.D. Salinger or Jane Austen if it's to give you more
pleasure than Looking for the Klondike Stone . . .
Elizabeth Arthur's account rises far above articulateness.
To begin with, she has a memory easily equal to Proust's or
Wordsworth's (I'm thinking of "The Prelude") . . . She does
a masterly evocation of Eden. More than memory, though, Arthur
has amazing powers of description. As I read Looking for
the Klondike Stone, two things happened simultaneously.
One was that I got a vivid sense of what it would be like
to be a little girl, how everything would look and feel and
taste, what would matter a lot and what hardly at all. Seldom
have I so nearly walked in someone else's moccasins. But at
the same time I did some walking of my own.
Noel Perrin, The Boston Globe, June 27,
Like many people, I have a small select shelf of books set
aside for re-reading each summer...This shelf holds The
Wind in The Willows, Eudora Welty's Delta Wedding,
Owen Johnson's Lawrenceville Stories, and now Looking
for the Klondike Stone, an absolutely enchanting work
that deserves a place by every hammock from Rehoboth to Rockaway
Beach...This is a work of nearly Proustian intensity, a sort
of a la recherche du camp perdu . . . Arthur's ability
to convey the impressions of her childhood is eerie, almost
supernatural. Her prose is lyrical, laced with the melancholy
that comes from an adult's knowledge that paradise is always
lost and wilderness once despoiled does not return. But her
writing is whimsical, too, and sometimes almost surreally
funny . . . The last pages of her book were so lovely, so
sad and true in their evocation of beauty and childhood and
loss that I had tears in my eyes and I bet you will, too .
. . Those of us too old for Wynakee have Elizabeth Arthur's
wonderful gift of Looking for the Klondike Stone, a
distillation of the best summer you ever knew: literary alchemy
at its most magical.
Elizabeth Hand, Washington Post Book
World, June 20, 1993
Elizabeth Arthur's girlhood memoir, Looking for the Klondike
Stone, contains not a single false step...It is as delicate
as gossamer . . . This book is a memory feast - a rich, detailed
evocation of a time of wonder and innocence and daring, written
after such concentrated cultivation and nurturing that for
a time, at least, it convinced this portly gentleman in his
mid-50's that he was inside the mind of the lively and curious
eight year old girl. Or, perhaps even better, that he was
inside the mind of a fiercely intelligent adult looking back
with great honesty at the child she was.
Geoffrey Stokes, The Boston Sunday Globe,
Sept. 19, 1993
Arthur wins your heart instantly in this "memory feast" about
her epiphanic summer-camp experiences . . . In prose of unfailing
dazzle and profound specificity, Arthur lovingly describes
every aspect of this enchanted place . . . Arthur's pleasure
in and gratitude for these seminal times are rendered vividly
tangible, as electrifying as touch, warming as sun, and refining
as poetry. An inspired and magical storyteller, she makes
her unforgettable memories somehow ours.
Donna Seaman, Booklist, June 1 &
As children, we live with an emotional intensity, gathering
memories of a magical time or place that sustain us in our
adulthood. For writer Arthur, the five summers she spent at
Camp Wynakee in Vermont's Green Mountains during the 1960's
were so enchanted that, between visits, she would indulge
in "memory feasts" . . . In this lovely memoir, Arthur relives
a typical summer . . . Beautifully written and a joy to read,
this is highly recommended.
Wilda Williams, Library Journal, June
To fully appreciate novelist Arthur's memoir of the five
childhood summers she spent at a Vermont camp in the early
1960's, readers must slow themselves to a sun-drenched amble
. . . the author's hypnotic voice proves compelling.
Publisher's Weekly, May 17, 1993
Novelist Elizabeth Arthur's memoir of the five summers she
spent as a child at Camp Wynakee in the Green Mountains of
southern Vermont is, like the best memoirs, uniquely personal,
yet universal. It details specific moments and places that
nevertheless belong to the timeless realm of childhood . .
. Like Annie Dillard in "An American Childhood", Arthur writes
lyrically about the unfolding of a young girl's consciousness,
her interaction with the natural world, and her quest to find
her place in it.
Chicago Tribune, Sept. 3, 1993
[In Looking for the Klondike Stone] gently, diligently,
and without stooping to the sentimental, Arthur traces her
creative and spiritual roots to five idyllic summers in the
green hills of Vermont . . . Arthur writes with flawless clarity,
mixing childhood awe and honesty in equal doses. Always elegant
and evocative, her prose can make even bug juice sound magical.
Arthur can also be pithy and tongue-in-cheek . . . Looking
for the Klondike Stone is a generous celebration of youth
and a poignant reminder of the potential inherent in us all.
Nancy Middleton, Belles Lettres, Vol.
In this enchanting memoir, Arthur recalls her childhood summers
at a camp in Vermont, evoking the passions of youth, the routines
of camping and the sense of place . . . This narrative of
children's delights - campfires, woodland hikes - in a lovely
landscape is also a collection of lessons on how to be parents
The New Yorker, 1993
A loving celebration of those special refuges of childhood
that are forever the measure of happiness for those fortunate
enough to have known them...Like the author's camp memories,
better savored then wolfed down: a splendid evocation of wisdom
acquired in a demi-Eden by a writer of great grace and sensitivity.
Kirkus Reviews, May 1, 1993
Camp Wynakee lay in a hollow
of the hills . . . . So begins Elizabeth Arthurs luminous
memoir of her five perfect seasons at a camp called Wynakee in the
Green Mountains of southern Vermont - a paean to youth, to summer
and to enchanted places.
Elizabeth is in her fourth summer
as a camper when we first meet her - at age ten, arriving at Wynakee
in the back of her stepfathers Jeep, dressed in new
shorts, a new shirt, new sneakers and a new cap, like any pilgrim
ready to be reborn. Possessed of a childs remarkable
ability to endow the events of her days with symbolic significance,
she is poised to make the most of every moment.
With her we enter a world where the
comforting daily routine begins with the chimes of a great
brass bell ringing and ringing in waves of deep sound across the
meadow and the woods- a sound which I never tired of
hearing, and which said to me not just Listen, but I
hear you:; where skinny dipping with other girls in the pond
at night, the water like black velvet stroking every neuron,
is a chance to learn the bliss of bodies, and the deep comfort
of forgetting, for the time, our differences; where a long
hike to the Fire Tower on a day when the heat lay around us
like a piece of birch bark carefully cut and ready to be set to
flame may culminate in the realization that the world
itself was a kiln, and that all things, including me, were fired
in it; where on one special day each summer - Klondike Day
- the counselors transform the camp into a dream of the Wild West.
On Klondike Day gold-painted rocks,
hundreds of them, are scattered through the hills for the campers
to seek and find; one stone - and only one - is the Klondike Stone,
the true treasure, whose finder, chosen by fate itself, is cleansed,
remade, newly wrought. To Elizabeth it is the emblem of the
miracle of Wynakee, where a child who has known since her parents
divorce that things you love can vanish might experience
during a few brief seasons a measure of happiness that will nourish
her for a lifetime.
Light of touch, written in a style
of great lyric generosity, this is a book to remind us of the joyful
seriousness and awe-filled intensity of childhood. In Looking
for the Klondike Stone it will be forever summer in Vermont,
where the pervasive magic of a place called Wynakee is elevated
to the status of myth by an extraordinary
child on a quest to discover the meaning of the world. It is destined
for the small shelf of classic American memoirs that capture a time,
a place, a life in which we all can find ourselves.