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Crusoe's Daughter Hardcover – Mar 1986


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Product details

  • Hardcover
  • Publisher: Atheneum (Mar. 1986)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0689117922
  • ISBN-13: 978-0689117923
  • Product Dimensions: 21.6 x 14.5 x 2.5 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (15 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 1,972,015 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Jane Gardam has been awarded the Heywood Hill Literary Prize for a lifetime's contribution to the enjoyment of literature; has twice won a Whitbread Award and has been shortlisted for the Booker Prize.

Product Description

Review

Jane Gardam is at her most characteristic and briliant -- Victoria Glendinning Sunday Times Engaging and witty Observer Touching, terribly sad, funny: a smashing novel The Times --This text refers to the Paperback edition.

Book Description

* A reissue of one of Jane Gardam's best-loved novels --This text refers to the Paperback edition.

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Customer Reviews

4.5 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

32 of 32 people found the following review helpful By A. Craig HALL OF FAME on 1 Mar. 2002
Format: Paperback
This novel is Jane Gardam's great novel, tackling her perennial themes of loneliness, love and literature. The solitary child brought up by eccentric maiden autnts who identifies so totally with Crusoe in his isolated state has only one brief experience of love, but it's searing. The War, the Holocaust and the survival of the human spirit are all encapsulated in this extraordinarily funny and moving novel. Buy it.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Mary Whipple HALL OF FAMETOP 500 REVIEWER on 21 April 2012
Format: Paperback
In what author Jane Gardam describes as "by far the favourite of all my books," Gardam uses her mother's childhood as a springboard for a novel about isolation, communication, and the writing of novels. Setting the novel at the turn of the twentieth century on the isolated northeast coast, where her mother spent her entire life, Gardam introduces five-year-old Polly Flint, who arrives with her widowed father at Oversands, a big yellow house occupied by his wife's older, unmarried sisters. Shortly after arriving, Polly's father dies, leaving her to be brought up by her Aunts Mary and Frances in a place so isolated that there are virtually no other children. In her loneliness Polly finds her greatest solace from the books in the library of the house. Her discovery of Robinson Crusoe, who lived in isolation on an island for twenty-eight-years, offers her a way of dealing with her own isolation.

Crusoe, an obviously pragmatic man who must deal with each day as it comes, relies on his own ingenuity to solve his problems, just as Polly knows she will have to do. Her first real conflict with the aunts comes when she is twelve, as she firmly rejects being Confirmed in the church, and refuses the idea of communion. Her aunts' religiosity cannot stand up to Robinson Crusoe's realism for her. "I'm young and I'm empty of life. I just am," she cries. "All the hymn-words spring up and the Collects, Creeds, and Epistles." Crusoe's realism becomes her religion.

Love and death eventually complicate life at Oversands, and in her teens Polly goes to stay with elderly family members, Arthur Thwaite and his sister Celia, who live on the Yorkshire moors, some distance away.
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful By Kate Hopkins TOP 1000 REVIEWER on 13 Dec. 2011
Format: Paperback
I agree with Amanda Craig that this is one of Gardam's great novels - though I find 'Bilgewater' and 'The Flight of the Maidens' equally good. Polly Flint, orphaned at the age of six, is raised in North East England by two passionate aunts, who have used religion as a substitute for romance. Aware of all manner of strange undercurrents of emotion in the house, Polly clings increasingly to the story of Robinson Crusoe, the man shipwrecked on a desert island who lived in solitude for years. Polly sees Crusoe as the ultimate survivor - if he could cope, she also can. And so she becomes increasingly obsessed with his story, as her own life becomes more complicated. Gardam guides us with a fine light touch through the 20th century, from the last days of Victoriana to World War I (in which a young poet who loves Polly is killed), the 1920s and on to the rise of Hitler. The epilogue, set in the 1980s, describes World War II and its aftermath. Although the book is about a rather solitary girl, there is a wonderful cast of characters, including Polly's two emotionally-repressed aunts, their melancholy maid Charlotte, Lady Celia (a sort of Northern Ottoline Morrell) and her dreamy brother Arthur Thwaite, Paul Treese the working-class boy who's won a place to Cambridge and longs to be a poet, the German-Jewish anglophile Zeit family, and Polly's staunch maid Alice, who helps Polly to recover from a minor breakdown after disappointment in love.

A wonderful, completely engrossing read. My only criticism was that it wasn't longer - I would have liked more about Polly's relationship with the two Jewish girls that she takes in, about World War II and about Polly's life as an older woman.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Lost John TOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on 24 Dec. 2010
Format: Paperback
Polly Flint was born just before the opening of the 20th century. In this novel, the story of her life, mostly written as if by herself, we get a child's view of Edwardian life; a young woman's experience of the First World War; a somewhat older woman's perspective on the inter-war years ... and much more besides; with an update to 1986 and what we may take to be Polly's last days. Her name might make us think of Treasure Island, but her great passion, throughout life, was Robinson Crusoe.

Polly never knew her mother, and her father was drowned at sea when she was six, so she was raised, but not openly loved, by maiden aunts. Small wonder then, that she felt shipwrecked, and from when she first read the book found in her late grandfather's study, closely identified with Crusoe on his island.

Polly tried to be like Crusoe in his resourcefulness and self-sufficiency, and in not being driven mad by prolonged isolation. Unlike Crusoe, she did have a few people around her, but they were strictly limited in numbers and outlook. Educated at home, in her early years she encountered few other children. Over time, a number of young men showed an interest in her; one loved her, and she loved another. Through those experiences and others, we acquire an authentic female perspective on those long-gone decades, their strict limitations set alongside occasional opportunities and some real joys.

We learn, or are reminded, of much about Robinson Crusoe, and Jane Gardam risks a brief discussion of what a novel should set out to achieve - against which we of course immediately begin to measure her own book. "Every serious novel must in some degree and UNNOTICEABLY carry the form further. Novel must be 'novel'. ...it must entertain. No polemics. No camouflaged sermons." She passes the test with flying colours.
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