Swiss Family Robinson in Words of One Syllable
by Lucy Aikin
'Swiss Family Robinson in Words of One Syllable' Summary
The novel opens with the titular family in the hold of a sailing ship, weathering a great storm. The ship's crew evacuates without them, so William, Elizabeth, and their four sons (Fritz, Ernest, Jack, and Franz) are left to survive alone. As the ship tosses about, William prays that God will spare them.
The ship survives the night, and the family finds themselves within sight of a tropical desert island. The following day, they decide to get to the island they can see beyond the reef. With much effort, they construct a vessel out of tubs. After they fill the tubs with food, ammunition, and other items of value they can safely carry, they row toward the island. Two dogs from the ship, Turk and Juno, swim beside them. The ship's cargo of livestock (including a cow, a donkey, two goats, six sheep, a ram, a pig, chickens, ducks, geese, and pigeons), guns and powder, carpentry tools, books, a disassembled pinnace and provisions have survived.
Upon reaching the island, the family set up a makeshift camp. William knows that they must prepare for a long time on the island and his thoughts are as much on provisions for the future as on their immediate wants. William and his oldest son Fritz spend the next day exploring the island.
The family spends the next few days securing themselves against hunger. William and Fritz make several trips to the ship to bring everything useful from the vessel ashore. The domesticated animals on the ship are towed back to the island. There is also a great store of firearms and ammunition, hammocks for sleeping, carpenter's tools, lumber, cooking utensils, silverware, and dishes. Initially, they construct a treehouse, but as time passes (and after Elizabeth is injured climbing the stairs down from it), they settle in a more permanent dwelling in part of a cave. Fritz rescues a young Englishwoman named Jenny Montrose, who was shipwrecked elsewhere on their island.
The book covers more than ten years. William and the older boys explore various environments and develop homes and gardens at various sites about the island. Ultimately, the father wonders if they will ever see the rest of humanity again. Eventually, a British ship that is in search of Jenny Montrose anchors near the island and is discovered by the family. The captain is given the journal containing the story of their life on the island, which is eventually published. Several family members continue to live tranquilly on their island, while several return to Europe with the British.
Lucy Aikin was an English historical writer, biographer and correspondent. She also published under pseudonyms such as Mary Godolphin. Her literary-minded family included her aunt Anna Laetitia Barbau...More on Lucy Aikin
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