Monday, 18 August 2014

Crusoe's Daughter - Jane Gardam

There isn't a Jane Gardam book that I have read that wasn't enjoyable in some way.  This is no different, but is different as it has no chapter headings, just stars (*) as breaks every so often.  You can treat these as chapter headings if you like - that's what I did.  This is a rather sad novel, telling the story of an orphan child, who, having been left temporarily in the care of her maiden aunts by her seagoing father, finds it a permanent home when he is drowned.  Her aunts obviously love her but are unable to show the maternal kind of love that would suit this odd child, who wonders, always, how she should "fit in" with other people.

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She falls in love, twice, but in both cases she is thwarted - once by World War One, and once by the mother of the man she has fallen in love with.  After that she doesn't bother.  People arrive in her life, people leave her life.  People are kind to her, people treat her badly.  And all the while she continues to live in a large, yellow house, near the seashore in the North East of England.   And throughout her life the book Robinson Crusoe is a constant, rather like a bible to her.

I found it a wonderful read, I was engrossed.  But it is odd.  If you like the beginning, keep reading - it's worth it!  And if you get to the final few pages, you will find a couple of scenarios set out like a play.  If you feel you can't read both scenarios - please, please read the first, where a journalist is on the doorstep - because there are a couple of bombshells there that will round the book off.  Personally, I would not have included the second, a rather winding conversation with Mr Crusoe himself..... but then you may find that this completes the book.  Whatever!  It's a little gem.