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Monday, March 28, 2011

Robinson Crusoe

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Robinson Crusoe

by Daniel Defoe
audiobook: 11 hours
narrated by John Lee

I think mostly everyone is at least somewhat familiar with the story of Robinson Crusoe: man is shipwrecked on island alone and lives there for many, many years.  I knew there was another guy in the story named Friday, but that was the extent of my knowledge.  I wanted to read (rather, listen to) this book because it is a classic, and one that I want to be really familiar with.

My thoughts on the book are mixed.  For the most part I really enjoyed it.  Following along as Crusoe makes a life for himself on the island was my favorite part of the story (and thankfully that was MOST of the story).  I loved seeing how he used all the resources he had available to him in order to survive, and to survive well.  I can see how other people might find this boring, but I quite enjoyed it.  Of course I was reminded of the Tom Hanks movie Cast Away, but I did not particularly enjoy the movie while I did very much enjoy the book.

Things changed when additional characters entered the storyline.  Friday, a native of South America, is rescued from death by Crusoe.  Rather than rejoice treating Friday as a new partner in his adventurous life on the island Crusoe instead takes Friday on as a servant.  In all fairness, were I Friday and had I just been saved from certain death, I think I'd (at first) be willing to work as a servant merely out of gratitude!  But still, were I Crusoe, my immediate though upon seeing a new person on the island would have been, "Ah, a companion!" and not, "Ah, a servant!"  I know, I know, the book is a product of the time period so of COURSE Crusoe would see Friday as a servant and of COURSE Friday would be willing to serve Crusoe to the point of death, but still, it bugged me.

More characters come in to the story later on, and this is where the book became more unbelievable for me.  Until this point I felt like this was a story that COULD have happened (it was, after all, most likely inspired by real events) but the coming of the pirates and the way in which Crusoe got off the island were less believable to me.

Another thing for those familiar with the story: remember the sailors that he sends one of his new friends to retrieve from the mainland?  The plan was to bring them to the island where they would be safe, then figure out a way to make it back to Europe.  Instead, when a boat comes along Crusoe ditches that plan and sails off without waiting for them.  I realize that he came back for them later, but if I were those sailors and I got to the island to find that my supposed savior had sailed off without me, I'd have been ticked!

ANYway ... I'm really glad I listened to this book.  It was enjoyable for the most part, and the narrator did an excellent job (which always helps). I can now say that I really KNOW the story of Robinson Crusoe, and I'm glad that I do.


Rachel said...

Thank you for this post! I've been wanting to read this book, but I'm wary of the classics since being traumatized by boredom in "The Count of Monte Cristo." :-)

Audra said...

I've never read (or listened! ;)) to this one - one of those classics I sniffed at in college but now should pick up...

Ryan G said...

I was hoping this would be one of your list that you would write a review for. I've been thinking about reading this book for a while now, especially since I read the two Verne books. Now I'm not so sure about it. Maybe it would be better to wait a bit long until I'm in the right frame of mind to read it. I think the things that bugged you woulb bug me at this point in time as well.

I totally agree with the Castaway movie, I was bored to tears.

Michelle @ The True Book Addict said...

I've been wanting to read this for years. I like Defoe's writing...really enjoyed Moll Flanders. Thanks for the thoughtful review.

Have you watched the final episode of Big Love yet? If you have, email me at truebookaddictATgmailDOTcom so we can chat about it. What a trip!

Heather J. said...

Rachel - I listened to COUNT and actually really liked it, but I think that had a lot to do with the fact that I LISTENED to it rather than READ it. Not sure if you're an audiobook fan, but you may want to consider trying some of the "boring" classics that way - I feel like I can tune out the boring parts and just focus in on the good stuff. :)

Audra - I'm glad I listened to it, but I don't know that it will be a favorite of mine.

Ryan G - It's definitely worth giving a shot but you may want to wait until you are in a slightly more ... um ... understanding? forgiving? ... mood. LOL

Michelle - I liked MOLL FLANDERS a lot as well. And I haven't yet had a chance to watch the finale of BIG LOVE but I hope to do it soon and I will definitely email you!

Rebecca Reid said...

I read this one very slowly. I loved it too. I hear about the Friday thing. Remember when Crusoe was captured and HE was made a servant too. It's power, and the unfortunately are taken over. I loved the religious aspects of this one. I shoudl reread it. I loved seeing Crusoe's spiritual growth when he arrived on the island.

Heather J. said...

Rebecca - I forgot to mention his religious awakening in my review - that is something I really enjoyed as well.

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