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Crusoe's Daughter by Jane Gardam
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Aug 14, 12


Crusoe's Daughter by Jane Gardam (Europa Editions, 2012. First publ. 1985)

I had read The Man in the Wooden Hat (a sequel to Old Filth, both published by Europa Editions) and fell in love with Jane Gardam’s sensuous style. By “sensuous” I don’t mean “lavish” or “lush.” I simply mean that her writing has a strong capacity to evoke feelings and states, and thus, to appeal to our senses. There are few contemporary writers who give one (me, at least) that feeling of intense pleasure we used to have when we read as children, and Gardam is one of them. This may be because she was herself—as one can see from this novel—a child in love with reading. Crusoe s Daughter is a metaphor for someone (in this case, a woman) who lives in isolation and creates a whole universe in the same way Crusoe created his island and God the world. It is also a testimony to the narrator’s (and I assume, the author’s too) love for this great classic and for reading fiction, in general.

The narrative starts when the protagonist is six years old and, orphaned, moves in with her aunts in a remote yellow house by the sea, and ends when she is in her eighties. The novel’s best parts are probably those in which “nothing happens,” save for the everyday rhythm of life in a small fishermen’s village. The second best are the scenes taking place at the Thwaite villa (Mr. Thwaite is a Dickensian character who, initially, has a marginal role, but in the end—like in those early nineteenth-century novels that have inspired this book—turns out to be closely related to our protagonist). The descriptions of the artists and the poets who are hosted there are witty and funny, and the bohemian atmosphere is so vivid that one can’t help longing for such an idyllic place.

Jane Gardam is one of the wittiest and most talented writers writing in English today.
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Bill i'm just about to start reading this book. it's my first one of hers, although i own several other europa edition books of hers. as an aside, those europa edition books are really great...i own about 50 of them.


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