Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Crusoe's Daughter

Last night, I finished reading Crusoe's Daughter by Jane Gardam, the selection for discussion at Cornflower Books Reading Club. If you are interested in an online book group, you still have time to read the book before  September 28 when the discussion will begin.

The interesting thing about the "classics", in my experience, is that  although very few people have read them, we all think that we know the story. Long ago, when I completed a double major in English and French Literature, I studied Daniel Defoe but the novel that I read was Moll Flanders.  Like many people, the extent of my knowledge of Crusoe is that he was shipwrecked, that there were cannibals and that he got all of his work done by Friday. The term "gal Friday" (ugh) is probably a reference to the novel.

Gardam's novel is the story of Polly Flint, a young girl who is left with two odd maiden aunts in a yellow house by the North Sea. Polly, who has few playmates, is fascinated by the story of Robinson Crusoe.  Polly spends her life living alone with a servant, surviving the loss of family, unmet expectations of lovers, alcoholism, war and is eventually given two little girls to raise in the yellow house. Throughout Polly's life, Crusoe is her companion.

 As books and stories have often seen me through the difficult spots in my own life, I believe in the power of  print to render a lonely life less lonely. I don't want to spoil the plot for you so I won't write any more. I would recommend Crusoe's Daughter and I will eagerly wait for September 28 to hear other readers' impressions of the novel.

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