3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
Engaging and Engrossing,
This review is from: Crusoe's Daughter (Abacus Books) (Paperback)
Polly Flint, the narrator of this charming, witty and moving novel, is an orphan; her mother died when she was a baby and her father, a merchant sea captain, dies at sea when Polly is six years old. She is 'adopted' by her two aunts who live in a large yellow house, called Oversands, in the north of England, so close to the sea that the Polly thinks the house is rather like a ship tossed about on the waves. Oversands is so remote that Polly feels she could be marooned on a desert island, just like Robinson Crusoe, whose story Polly becomes very enthralled with as she builds a life for herself in the isolation and solitude of her home.
This novel follows Polly's life throughout a period of eighty years - from Edwardian times, through two world wars, the Holocaust, and right up until the nineteen eighties towards the end of Polly's life. The story is peopled with a delightful cast of characters - apart from Polly's two religious aunts and their companion, the green-faced Mrs Woods, we meet Mr Thwaite (whom Polly imagines to be a romantic Heathcliff-type figure until she meets him and his disappointed by his monocle and drooping moustache); there is Mr Thwaite's sister, Lady Celia, a rather eccentric patron of the arts; we meet Paul Treece, a would-be poet; the Zeits, a German Jewish family, with one of whom Polly becomes very close; and these characters are all wonderfully described by Polly with wit and affection.
I found this richly textured novel to be an engaging and engrossing read - marvellously eccentric in some places, very amusing and comical in other places - yet poignant and moving too. Jane Gardam is a wonderfully original novelist who has deservedly won several literary prizes, and a writer I have no hesitation in recommending.
Also recommended by the same author: Bilgewater (Abacus Books); The Flight of the Maidens; Old Filth; The Man in the Wooden Hat.