Crusoe and Daughter

Patricia Craig

  • Crusoe’s Daughter by Jane Gardam
    Hamish Hamilton, 224 pp, £8.95, May 1985, ISBN 0 241 11526 4
  • The Tie that Binds by Kent Haruf
    Joseph, 246 pp, £9.95, May 1985, ISBN 0 7181 2561 4
  • Hannie Richards, or The Intrepid Adventures of a Restless Wife by Hilary Bailey
    Virago, 265 pp, £8.95, May 1985, ISBN 0 86068 346 X
  • A Fine Excess by Jane Ellison
    Secker, 183 pp, £8.95, May 1985, ISBN 0 436 14601 0
  • Victory over Japan by Ellen Gilchrist
    Faber, 277 pp, £9.95, May 1985, ISBN 0 571 13446 7

There is at present something of a fashion for novels reflecting other novels, ironically and obliquely (Peter Ackroyd’s The Great Fire of London comes to mind, with Little Dorrit behind it; or even Flaubert’s Parrot, though biography, fiction and all inform that eccentric piece of writing). These, at best, are neither extensions nor offshoots, but playful and original tributes to the work that’s set them off. With Jane Gardam’s latest novel the background book, and enriching ingredient, is Robinson Crusoe. Mrs Gardam is not new to the practice. The Summer after the Funeral (1973) has a heroine (aged 16 – it’s ostensibly a children’s book) who feels an affinity between herself and Emily Brontë, to the point of thinking deeply about reincarnation. Wuthering Heights has left its mark indirectly on this novel. Crusoe’s Daughter, with its heroine Polly Flint metaphorically cast away, and not cast down by it, is rather more open about its literary appropriations.

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