Picks and Pans Review: Island Sojourn

UPDATED 09/15/1980 at 01:00 AM EDT Originally published 09/15/1980 at 01:00 AM EDT

by Elizabeth Arthur

Liz Arthur, now 26, and her husband, Bob Gathercole, 31, who teaches outdoor skills to delinquent boys, didn't just talk about getting away from it all. In 1974 they left Lander, Wyo. and bought an island in a Canadian lake, where the closest people were six miles away by ski, snowshoe or boat. "Eager to forget remembering," they set off with building materials, food, a dog, a cat, two rifles and Grandma's Oriental rugs. This tale of romantic pioneer scenes, choreographed and written under the glow of kerosene lamps, is interrupted by developments of a less idyllic nature. Their handmade house catches fire and with it goes the illusion that the virgin wilderness and isolation offer unspoiled security. Word of a murder and a drunken suicide among their nearest neighbors reaches them, troubling their more positive impressions of a land where the "snow falls outside with gentle apology..." Even their relationship is abraded by overexposure. Eventually they give up and move back to civilization. Arthur writes with a direct simplicity. The questions she poses so well, of nature and our relationship to it, are of a more complex design and, like those Oriental rugs, inherited from generations past. (Harper & Row, $9.95)

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