The Swiss Family Robinson

I am fascinated by stories of survival.

And not just survival. Stories of adaptation, of thriving in an environment that is hostile and far outside of the ordinary. Stories of shipwrecks, of people driven to the end of what they think they are capable of, and yet, still managing to make a place for themselves in a world that is hostile.

Robinson Crusoe, the first season of Lost before it got too weird, that one movie where Tom Hanks is stuck on an island with only a volleyball for company. (Wilson, we all loved you.)

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And of course, The Swiss Family Robinson.

I cannot even begin to remember the number of times I have read this book. It is one of my oldest and dearest favorites and will always hold a special place in my heart. Since I am always more interested in reading about the method and ingenuity of survival, rather than the quest to escape, The Swiss Family Robinson fits my interest to the letter.

It begins with a shipwreck, as any self-respecting story of this sort does. The family Robinson, consisting of a man, his wife, and his three sons, are sailing aboard a ship bound for the colonies in Australia. A storm blows them off course, and they are left alone offshore an uninhabited island, left to survive on their own with little hope of rescue.

The supplies aboard ship, combined with their own ingenuity, provide them with the means to begin their own small colony within the confines of the island. As they explore and begin to find their feet in this strange new world, they are faced with a new series of challenges at each turn. Marauding bands of apes, massive snakes, and other predators remind them continually that their island is a long way from the peaceful farm they left behind in England, and yet, they find themselves growing attached to their strange home.

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The book, written by Johann Wyss in 1812, covers the span of ten years. From a treetop home to the caves they discover in the cliffs, they spend their time settling in their strange home and, as a result, find themselves so attached to it that when rescue does appear, ten years later, they are reluctant to leave it.

This book is an old, old favorite from my childhood, and one I would highly recommend to anyone searching for a good, solid adventure. I hope you enjoy it as thoroughly as I did.

We rose up betimes, for sleep weights lightly on the hopeful, as well as on the anxious.

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