An idyllic summer at a cottage in the 1950s, as revealed through the eyes of a boy on the cusp of adolescence: experiencing his first crush, discovering the joy of nature, and struggling to understand grown-ups.
Every year, from the end of June to the end of August, Bruce and his family go to their cedar-clad cottage on the blue, wide lake. At first this summer of 1954 seems like any other: floating in the rowboat with Grace from next door, jumping off the diving raft, eating peach pie, exploring with Angus the dog, watching the seagulls, frogs, and herons and catching crayfish. But just when he realizes life is perfect, everything starts to change.
He's 10, the family dynamics are shifting, and over the summer both the harshness of the adult world and the patterns of the natural world reveal themselves. By the time the weather turns, he will be a different child and will have chosen his own path to understanding the wilderness that waits behind their wooden homes.
Funny, subtle, and true, Barefoot at the Lake transports us to a long, hot, poignant summer.
Bruce (father of Ben) Fogle conjures up beautiful images of summers spent at his family's summer cottage on a lake just outside Toronto. Interspersed with his recollections are stories of the indigenous Indian tribes as narrated by his uncle who is recovering from a nervous breakdown following the failure of his marriage. Bruce and his friends at the lake are unaware of this and include uncle Rube in many of their activities as they would any other children.
One of my favourite descriptive passages comes towards the end of the book when the family go to watch a display of synchronised swimming by some of the local ladies whom Bruce describes as somewhat "buxom".
The postscript was particularly poignant.
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