In 1904, six-year-old Polly Flint is sent to live with her aunt’s in a house by the sea. Orphaned shortly thereafter, Polly will spend the next eighty years stranded in this quiet corner of the world as 20th century rages in the background. Throughout it all Polly returns again and again to the story of Robinson Crusoe, who, marooned like her, fends off the madness of ...
In 1904, six-year-old Polly Flint is sent to live with her aunt’s in a house by the sea. Orphaned shortly thereafter, Polly will spend the next eighty years stranded in this quiet corner of the world as 20th century rages in the background. Throughout it all Polly returns again and again to the story of Robinson Crusoe, who, marooned like her, fends off the madness of isolation with imagination.
Like previous Gardam titles will skew to female readers and Anglophiles. An ideal choice for book clubs.
Polly Flint, the central figure in this civilized English novel, is six years old as it opens in 1904, an old woman at its end, in 1985her mind and imagination filled with the presence of her heroic exemplar, Robinson Crusoe. Installed by her seafaring father in a big yellow house in Yorkshire under the care of two pious aunts, she spends her life in and near that spot. Once she loved a young poet who died in the Great War; later there was a German-Jewish refugee who placed his daughters in Polly's care before he died. Events occur undramatically, related with equal weight no matter what their relative significance. Companionable though it is, the novel lacks urgency; even when Polly speaks directly with Crusoe, they exchange tepid, truistic remarks about the nature of memory and fiction, memoir and imagination. Then he is gone and the tale ends as quietly as it began. Gardam's award-winning books include God on the Rocks and The Pangs of Love. (March)
After her father leaves six-year-old Polly Flint in the care of her elderly aunts, the girl is virtually marooned in a yellow house in a salt marsh in northern England. From that day in 1903 until the eve of World War II, we observe Polly's isolated existence and her obsession with her literary and spiritual ancestor, Robinson Crusoe. But Polly is never alone, and the revelations of the passions and foibles of the humans in her world are uncovered slowly in this richly textured novel. A final section, set in 1984, shows an elderly Polly in self-chosen seclusion. Although the novel lacks rousing action, much occurs on the emotional landscape. We know Polly intimately, and she haunts our imaginations as surely as Crusoe haunts hers. For academic libraries and public library patrons seeking a thought-provoking book. Kathy Piehl, English Dept., Mankato State Univ., Minn.
Jane Gardam has twice won the Whitbread Award, for The Hollow Land, and Queen of the Tambourine. She is also the author of God on the Rocks, which was short-listed for the Man Booker Prize, and most recently, Faith Fox.