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3.53  ·  Rating Details ·  222 Ratings  ·  34 Reviews
January Marlow, a heroine with a Catholic outlook of the most unsentimental stripe, is one of three survivors out of twenty-nine souls when her plane crashes, blazing, on Robinson's island. Presumed dead for months, the three survivors must wait for the annual return of the pomegranate boat. Robinson, a determined loner, proves a fair if misanthropic host to his uninvited ...more
Paperback, 176 pages
Published February 17th 2003 by New Directions (first published 1958)
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Brideshead Revisited by Evelyn WaughThe Power and the Glory by Graham GreeneThe Screwtape Letters by C.S. LewisThe Lord of the Rings by J.R.R. TolkienThe Divine Comedy by Dante Alighieri
Catholic Fiction
192nd out of 421 books — 350 voters
Lord of the Flies by William GoldingTreasure Island by Robert Louis StevensonAnne of Green Gables by L.M. MontgomeryIsland of the Blue Dolphins by Scott O'DellThe Count of Monte Cristo by Alexandre Dumas
Books Set on Islands
268th out of 445 books — 165 voters

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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30)
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Dhanaraj Rajan
Aug 12, 2016 Dhanaraj Rajan rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: literature
There are some vague thoughts. And I need to organize them. Will write a review later.

The Story:

Do not worry! I am not giving any spoilers. I will be stating that is on the back cover with few spoiler-free additions. A plane bound for Azores island crashes in an isolated island which is almost thousand kilometers far away from any post office. The island is isolated but not uninhabited. It is inhabited by one Mr. Robinson (the proprietor of the island) and he is assisted by a small orphan boy, M
Roderick Hart
May 28, 2014 Roderick Hart rated it it was ok
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Jun 03, 2012 Snort rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: man-vs-island
Everyone loves a good fictional island – Kirrin Island in the "Famous Five" series (Enid Blyton), Azkaban in "Harry Potter" (JK Rowling), Da Zhi Dao in the Chinese masterpiece "Return of the Condor Heroes" (Jin Yong)… the list goes on. The better fictional islands though, are the ones where isolation is integral to plot integrity – Okishima Island in "Battle Royale" (Koushun Takami), the unnamed island in "Lord of the Flies" (William Golding) and Lilliput Island in "Gulliver’s Travels" (Jonathan ...more
Feb 23, 2015 Filipa rated it really liked it
I wasn't expecting to like this book so much. I was surprised with this revival of Robinson Crusoe by Defoe. This is a remake but at the same it isn't. I don't see much of Robinson here aside from the title and one of the characters because the rest is just so original, witty and funny it could not have been written by Defoe with his realistic tendencies and his down-to-earth writing. I had fun reading this book, it kept me interested throughout the reading and I was hooked. I loved that whole ...more
Nate D
Nov 26, 2016 Nate D rated it liked it
A reminder that all things are possible. Sparks' second novel, in a kind of adventure-mystery mode with a nice feel from moving between immediacy and reflection that she'd later deploy so deftly in The Prime of Ms. Jean Brodie.
Oct 12, 2016 Lukerik rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Telling the reader at the start of a novel that something awful is going to happen is a clever trick, but only really works if the author then takes the trouble to make the reader care about the characters. I am also astonished that Spark invites so many comparisons with Robinson Crusoe and then does nothing to justify them.

On the other hand, she writes well on a sentence by sentence basis and the plot makes sense.
tortoise dreams
Jun 17, 2016 tortoise dreams rated it really liked it
Three survivors of a plane crash encounter the solitary lord of a tiny island.

Book Review: A woman and two men stranded on an island named Robinson, owned by a man named Robinson, inhabited by a man named Robinson. What does it all mean? Muriel Spark's second book moves from the sparkling wit of her first novel, The Comforters, to character-study, religion, and a touch of philosophy; all of Spark's books are radically different from the one preceding. Our protagonist in Robinson is a strong woma
Apr 20, 2015 Ross rated it really liked it
From my blog:

Muriel Spark constantly surprises me. Few authors could be less comfortable in a genre mold, I think. In fact, I would say that Spark is openly, consciously, defying genre classification in this book, going so far as to say that I believe it’s the reason she wrote it. It’s a glorious mixture of thwarted story forms. It’s a survival story where no one is in danger of dying. It’s a mystery where, it turns out, there is nothing to solve. It’s a romance where no one falls in love. It’s
Gaston Levin
May 09, 2016 Gaston Levin rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Siempre es curioso descubrir que una novela escrita hace mas de medio siglo conserve aun la frescura y la chispa propias de un gran texto. Sin ser una idea original ni tener componentes que no nos suenen conocidos de otras historias "Robinson" se da maña para hacerse un lugar entre las lecturas mas recomendables de este año.
Un accidente aéreo, tres sobrevivientes (dos hombres y una mujer) en una isla apenas poblada por un hombre (Robinson y un chico que lo ayuda). Nada que no hayamos escuchado
Gary Garth McCann
Like Sparks other books that I've read (A Far Cry from Kensington, Loitering with Intent, and The Comforters), Robinson features unique, well-crafted characters, here thrown together on a deserted island as a result of a plane crash. If we read to learn about ourselves, reading this book I saw something clearly about myself that before I'd vaguely sensed. I like relaxed, comforting reading better than suspense (strange for someone whose own first novel is suspense mystery, yet perhaps consistent ...more
Jul 04, 2009 Heidi rated it it was ok
Shelves: modernfiction
I'm not quite sure what to think of this book. The premise is interesting: a small plane crashes on a private island in the North Atlantic, and three people survive. The island's owner takes them in, but there is no communication with the outside world (this is 1954, way before satellite phones), and no way off the island until the pomegranite pickers come in three months. So they wait. Then the "host" disappears, leaving a bloody trail. Murder suspicions get thrown around, plus some blackmail ...more
What is it about the 1950s and novels about wrecks on deserted islands? In Muriel Spark's second novel, three survivors of a plane crash find themselves on a tiny island in the south Atlantic. Robinson is an eccentric hermit who owns the island, named after himself, and lives there with an adopted young boy. Once a year, a boat stops there and the crew harvests the pomegranates.

By adding the three characters from the plane crash, one of them a woman, Spark has just enough people to set up tensio
Jul 28, 2014 Esther rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Ooh Goodreads actually has the 1960s penguin edition visual. Although its not a classic by any chance, always nice to have the picture of the actual book that you read. This was a very different kind of setting for her. I always think of her novels as very urban and this concerns the aftermath of a plane crash on a small island near the Azores. The 3 survivors are looked after by the sole inhabitant of the island, Robinson. The story progresses as they slowly begin to antagonize each other and ...more
from the back of my copy of the book: "Robinson is a novel so original and startling that it alters the reader's perspective. It has the wild sanity and macabre halarity of CATCH 22, the electric shock of LOLITA, the teasing, intellectual provocation of LORD OF THE FLIES. It is a blood-stained murder mystery, an acid-etched look into the contortions of the human pysche, a love story, a diabolically amusing satire, horrifying, funny, and utterly unforgettable."
Dec 09, 2007 Melissa rated it liked it
Recommends it for: castaways with ping-pong-playing cats
I'm still enjoying my Muriel Spark reading jag, even though my earlier sense of missing a lot continues. I'm hoping that by my 4th Spark novel I catch the knack of reading her. This castaway mystery owes a minor debt to Robinson Crusoe and a major one to Spark's 1950s-style Catholicism. The heroine(?) January Marlowe seems of a piece with the brittle, disturbed main character from The Contenders... on to The Abbess of Crewe and The Girls of Slender Means.
Feb 09, 2013 Tango rated it it was amazing
A great read with lots to ponder at the end. Sparks provokes the reader to question how they would have acted under the circumstances when January Marlowe is marooned on a tiny island with three men and a child. The story takes an interesting twist about half way through which will keep you turning the pages until the end. With a cast of interesting and eccentric characters, along with Sparks' clever writing, this is an entertaining book.
May 27, 2014 Maria rated it really liked it
It's an actual great book. At the start, I thought it was boring even, but not at all. I was mistaken. Spark managed to put a lot of current issues on a novel dated from 1958. The role and importance of January, how she influences and is influenced by the circumstances of her life and then by Robinson.

A book I'd gladly read again.
May 13, 2013 Carol rated it liked it
Shelves: century-of-books
I'm not sure how I feel - while it is praised for its "realism" damn, this book is heavy on the symbolism. A man shaped island? The island named after the owner? tunnels? volcanoes that scream? and on and on. I kept feeling I was missing half the point of the book because I didn't understand the symbolism. Don't know what someone who didn't have a Christian background would do with it.
Claire Peal
Dec 27, 2013 Claire Peal rated it it was ok
I am not sure how I feel about this novel, but in some ways I feel that that is because this novel is not sure what it wants to be. It may be because this is one of Sparks early novels or she may have been experimenting with style I don't know. However I never engaged with the characters overly and The Lord of the flies transformation renders it weak in comparison. Disappointing really
Jul 19, 2016 Floreana rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2016
Creo que Robinson tiene un simbolismo que no logro captar, lo que hace que la novela no termine de convencerme. Siento que terminé sabiendo menos cosas que antes de leerlo. Eso sí, los personajes me resultaron fantásticos: muy bien construídos y desarrollados. Spark escribe bastante bien. Volvería a leer algo suyo.
Aug 18, 2012 Fiona rated it did not like it
Shelves: general-fiction
Not Muriel Spark's finest hour for me. To be honest, I gave up halfway through because I was so bored. It lacked the necessary suspense to keep me interested. I'm glad I've already read so many of her novels because I wouldn't have been inspired to do so had this been the first.
Jun 13, 2009 Janean rated it really liked it
Three people forced to spend a certain number of weeks on the tiny island where their plane crashed. A nice house to live in, tinned food to eat, an eccentric host and then.... murder?
Debbie Cresswell
Not my preferred choice of a Sparks novel - being a psychological thriller on an island. I prefer her more domestic style novels.
Lisa Houlihan
An island shaped like a specific thing (here, a human body, with a headland and a West Knee) bodes well.
Emma Wallhead
Emma Wallhead rated it really liked it
May 20, 2016
Aboda L'incognito
Aboda L'incognito rated it really liked it
Jul 17, 2014
Lara rated it liked it
Dec 28, 2013
Shawn McParker
Shawn McParker rated it it was ok
May 11, 2011
Joana rated it really liked it
Apr 23, 2012
David rated it liked it
Nov 07, 2016
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  • Foreign Parts
  • Muriel Spark: The Biography
  • Novel on Yellow Paper (Revived Modern Classic)
  • The Reader
  • Textermination
  • A Legacy
  • Don't Tell Alfred
  • Original Bliss
  • Six
  • Civil to Strangers and Other Writings
  • Futility
  • Afternoon Men
  • The Flight from the Enchanter
  • 1982, Janine
  • How German is It (Wie Deutsch ist es)
  • Black Narcissus
  • Aerodynamics of Pork
  • 9th and 13th
Dame Muriel Spark, DBE was a prolific Scottish novelist, short story writer, and poet whose darkly comedic voice made her one of the most distinctive writers of the twentieth century. In 2008 The Times newspaper named Spark in its list of "the 50 greatest British writers since 1945".

Spark received the James Tait Black Memorial Prize in 1965 for The Mandelbaum Gate, the Ingersoll Foundation TS Eli
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