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3.59  ·  Rating details ·  393 ratings  ·  67 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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Average rating 3.59  · 
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 ·  393 ratings  ·  67 reviews

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Dhanaraj Rajan
Aug 10, 2016 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 orp/>The
Aug 29, 2019 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction
An aircraft crashes on a small island in the North Atlantic. Just three survivors, including our narrator and companion January Marlow, are tended by a man called Robinson.

Muriel Spark's writing is bright, descriptive and clever. She wraps and unwraps the people and personalities who are thrust together.

What follows is an interesting tale of survival, relationships, manipulation, suspicion and even possible murder.
Jan 24, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: owned
3.5* rounded up.

I didn't care for this one as much as some of her others as I found it lacked much of the humor in Loitering With Intent (for example). However, now that a few days have passed since I finished it, I find that certain aspects of it are sticking with me more than I expected.

Spark does an excellent job describing how the suspense and fear occasioned by the discovery of (view spoiler) ...more
Robert Blumenthal
Oct 27, 2017 rated it it was amazing
This is Muriel Spark's 2nd novel, and it is as good as it gets. It's part mystery, part philosophical and religious treatise, and part character study. Three people (2 men and a woman narrator) survive a plane crash on an island in the Atlantic. The sole occupant is a middle-aged man named Miles Mary Robinson, who owns the island. He is somewhat odd, but he helps to nurse the three back to health and provide for them as they wait for the next ship to come in to take them back to England (about 2 ...more
Andy Weston
Jul 04, 2019 rated it it was amazing
My fifth Muriel Spark novel, her second, and this the best I’ve read (yet), though I’ve enjoyed them all. It’s a castaway tale, in the image of Defoe and Wyss, but also Agatha Christie at times as well.
The crash of an Azores-bound plane on the mist-covered mountain slope on a small island disrupts the reclusive life of a man who has named his island after himself, Robinson. Three survive, our narrator January Marlow, a journalist, and two men. On the surface of it, it is a mystery novel, and ca
Jan 16, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
With The Comforters, I felt that Muriel Spark really set out her stall so to speak, her debut novel giving us a real taste of what was to come. However, with her second novel Robinson, she shows we might not want to be too quick to pigeon hole her work. As if a writer like Muriel Spark could ever be accurately pigeon holed anyway.

There are layers to Robinson, which make the whole – reasonably slight – novel, deceptively complex. However, it is very readable and gloriously compelling.
Aug 18, 2012 rated it did not like it
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.
Oct 27, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction, scottish
Muriel Spark has become my go-to author when I need a little cheering up. ‘Robinson’ is not one of her most gripping novellas in my opinion, yet it still contains the essential characteristics of her oeuvre that I enjoy so much: sardonic and unconventional female narrators, strange social situations, witty dialogue, unexpected twists, and memorably peculiar details. That combination is sufficient to lift my spirits. In this case the narrator, a widow named January, is marooned on an island with ...more
Oct 26, 2018 rated it really liked it
Read as part of Spark's Satire

Spark's second novel is an entertaining but rather slight comedy that touches on several other genres. The title is an allusion to Robinson Crusoe, and like all the best adventure stories it starts with a map.

The narrator January Marlow is one of three survivors of a plane crash on a remote Atlantic island named after its owner Robinson, who lives a reclusive life accompanied only by a boy he has adopted. He accommodates the three in his house, and mu
Isabel (kittiwake)
Mar 01, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Sometimes people say to me, 'If only you hadn't undertaken that journey . . . ' 'What a pity you didn't catch an earlier plane . . . ' or 'To think that you nearly went by sea!'
I am inclined to reject the idea behind these remarks in the same way as I reject the idea that it is best to have never been born.

I've signed up for a Muriel Spark Centenary Reading challenge and this is the first book I've read for it.

The story is told from the point of view of January Marlow, a wi
Oct 01, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Wryly funny and strange. This leans on the Robinson Crusoe story, set on an island in the mid-Atlantic where a plane has gone down. The 3 survivors are rescued by a man called Robinson, who owns the island, and lives there with his adopted son Miguel. Tensions rise in the group until they discover some bloodied clothing. What has happened and to whom? You’ll have to read it to find out! Muriel Spark’s second novel is quite different from her first , but just as enjoyable.
Lisa Guidarini
I've just finished Spark's second novel, Robinson. Still reeling. I want everyone who picks up this book for the first time to be as shocked and riveted as I was; so much depends on not knowing the next twist.

Brilliant as her first novel was, she blows away all competition with her second. Anyone else writing in 1958 may as well have put away their typewriter.

Girl got some serious range.

An homage to Irish novelist Daniel Defoe's 1719 Robinson Crusoe (considere
Roderick Hart
Oct 18, 2008 rated it it was ok
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Jun 01, 2012 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 17, 2015 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 m ...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 s
Robinson by Muriel Spark - Good

I found myself wondering what her obsession with Catholicism was. In this book January is a new convert. At one point she actually makes a rosary and it seems to have some significance. The Comforters also features a new convert and a rosary. Following my visit to the exhibition I find that at the time these two books were written, MS had just converted so I guess that was the underlying reason. Whatever, I found it a little overbearing to have it mentioned quite
Jul 17, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is my third Muriel Spark book. I read The Comforters and disliked it. The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie was enjoyable. Robinson, though, was different from these other novels. Robinson was filled with more realized characters and a much more focused story line. When I read:

"Sometimes I am a little vague about the details of the day before yesterday until some word or thing, almost a sacramental, touches my memory, and then the past comes walking over me as we say an angel is walking
Jun 13, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Robinson is a fascinating and surreal take on the desert island myth by the wonderful Scottish novelist Muriel Spark, who, in writing back to Daniel Defoe's 18th century classic Robinson Crusoe, created her own unique story. It is a novel of many dimensions, including survival from a plane disaster, a light inquiry into religion and spiritualism, and a thrilling murder mystery - and Spark manages to weave all of these facets together, forming an accessible and compelling narrative. Anyone who has enjoyed Robin ...more
Matt Holsman
Jan 28, 2018 rated it really liked it
A wonderful 2nd novel by Muriel Spark, I much preferred this to her first work, The Comforters. The plot is much more coherent and the prose better written.

I wouldn't say there's a huge amount of plot, rather the book feels more psychological as we follow the three survivors of a plane crash through the mind of the only female, January.

This is quite a quick read, only reaching 175 pages, but it's all the more powerful for it. Definitely recommended.
Austin Gaines
Jun 29, 2019 rated it liked it
A character study on 4 boring British folks in the 50s that didn’t seem like nice folks. But they are stranded on an island in the Atlantic after a plane crash. I’m a sucker for stories about islands. There is also an easy to figure out murder mystery. And some not so in depth debates on Catholicism. It was good enough to me because it was on an island. But if you don’t want to put up with some boring neurotic British folks then I wouldn’t bother.
Dusty Deming
Nov 23, 2018 rated it really liked it
Rather a strange and fascinating piece. Rather like some tale told around a fireside in the evening. Most unlikely premise but strangely it became very believable. It is funny, and the heroine rather ahead of her time (early 1950s) as a self-confident protagonist and the only really whole personality in the story. It is a quick tale but keeps you turning the pages.
Sherry Fyman
Dec 21, 2018 rated it really liked it
I love Muriel Spark. This was her second book. With both this and her first book, The comforters, it was almost as if, having spun out a crazy unlikely plot that she just got tired of it and stopped. But the situations are so striking and odd that I'm happy to go along for the ride.
Jul 19, 2019 rated it did not like it
Although I was enchanted for a good part of the book, the end result of reading it was like driving to disney world, only to turn around at the gate and make the long journey back home. It wasn't for me.
Jul 24, 2018 rated it really liked it
What a treat. I had never read anything by Spark before, but now I am intrigued and will try some others. The language is simple and straightforward, and yet--underneath--there is mystery and nuance and all kinds of complex human interaction. I thoroughly enjoyed this.
Apr 08, 2018 rated it really liked it
This was a suprisingly interesting, exciting and beautifully written and, simultaneously, easy to read work. What an underrated novel and author.
I loved the tematics explored, the writing, the thought-provoking sentence, and I'm looking forward to work this book for class :D
Sarah Wells
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Dan Pope
Jul 28, 2019 rated it really liked it
Muriel Spark goes to a hermit's island and demonstrates what life would be like without the presence of God, in her vision. A little too allegorical, perhaps for my tastes, but such a pleasure to hear her wit and beautiful, precise sentence-making.
Dec 20, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2017
I'm late to Muriel Spark but I like her style and I like her wit.
Jan 11, 2019 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
An interesting book, although I never fully worked out why the narrator said her journal almost led her to be on trial.
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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 Eliot Award in 199
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