When Polly Flint was six she was sent to live with her two holy aunts in a yellow house close to the Irish Sea. To the lonely orphan this bleak coast of England was so isolated she might well have been marooned on an island. For Polly the world of books—especially Defoe’s novel Robinson Crusoe with whose hero she will conduct a lifelong dialogue—became a source of emotional and intellectual nourishment. For her, the worlds of imagination and reality had only a thin divide between them, with the former taking the place of religion in her life. As Polly says about Crusoe: “He didn’t go mad. He was brave. Stuck. Imprisoned. The only way to survive is to say it’s God’s will.” And on that barren strip of land Polly remained for more than eighty years as the twentieth century raged; lamplight and Victorian order becoming chaos and nuclear dread. Crusoe’s Daughter, wholly original, memorable and deeply satisfying, is her story.
Jane Gardam has been twice awarded the Whitbread Prize and was also a Booker prize finalist. She is winner of the David Higham Prize, the Royal Society for Literature’s Winifred Holtby Prize, the Katherine Mansfield Prize, and the Silver Pen Award from PEN. Her novels include God on the Rocks, shortlisted for the Booker Prize; Old Filth, finalist for the Orange Prize; The Man in the Wooden Hat, finalist for the Los Angeles Times Book Prize; and Last Friends, finalist for the Folio Award. She lives in the south of England near the sea. In 1999 Jane Gardam was awarded the Heywood Hill Literary Prize in recognition of a distinguished literary career.