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Faith Fox: A Novel
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
Jane Gardam pushes a few boundaries in this quite original and rather curious novel. At times it works brilliantly well, at other times it's interesting, but ... There are some downsides, such as a rather weakly motivated Jack, the layabouts' Teesside accents that are far too Yorkshire, and a main character - Andrew - in the first part of the novel who just seems to fade away as things move on. Messages, themes and undercurrents seem to run thick and furious, but sometimes don't really seem to lead anywhere. On the plus side, Jane Gardam's writing is excellent as usual, though I was annoyed by several typos in the Kindle edition. Some characterisations are gorgeous, there are a few good laughs and many of the people seem so deliciously real. Its curious, original style is intriguing at times, but a bit infuriating at others.
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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
Faith Fox is the baby daughter of Holly Fox, a jolly-hockey-sticks type, married to Andrew, a young doctor. Holly, to the horror of half of the Home Counties, dies giving birth - something that just doesn't happen these days, and certainly not to people like Holly who has been brought up with every privilege. Everyone thinks her mother Thomasina will take over, but she doesn't. To the disdain of her friends Thomasina goes off on a fling to Egypt with a retired general of seventy-three.

Andrew, working all the hours God sends as a junior hospital doctor is in despair until it is suggested that his older brother Jack and his wife Jocasta will look after baby Faith. Jack is a preacher living in a disused monastery on the Yorkshire Moors, who has set up a kind of social services haven for people down on their luck. Along with a couple of young ex-burglars (nick-named the Smikes), he is presently housing a number of refugee Tibetans who learned their English in Liverpool. Jocasta has an 11 year-old son from a previous liaison, Philip, who is currently being educated at a private school, also up on the moors. This book is crammed full of life, energy and fascinating sub-plots, involving minor and major characters, none of whom are stinted or caricatured.

Gardam's tremendous generosity and free-wheeling exuberance makes this, in my opinion, as good as her Booker winner of a few years ago, Old Filth. Not only is this book full of insight and depth, it is also ravishingly funny throughout. It is a story about betrayal, the north-south divide, and love - for children and between men and women. I could not put it down as it segued from situation to situation, from character to character, with such confidence, courage and assurance. There seemed to be no corner of human existence that could be hidden from the unerring accuracy of vision gifted to this writer. Gardam has won the Whitbread Prize several times and has twice been nominated for the Booker. This is one of her best books.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 26 March 2013
Jane Gardam is a master. Especially wonderful book if you have or know children. Also consider my favorite: God On The Rocks.
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1 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on 31 October 2010
I hadn't come across this author before, even though she's written a lot of books. According to Victoria Wood, in an oddly-placed blurb beneath the title, this is the best thing she's done, which makes me think the others can't be all that good.
Also on the cover we have Julie Myerson telling us that this is 'a deeply funny, sad, dangerous novel'. None of which is true: it is mildly amusing, too silly to be sad, and about as dangerous as a batty old granny, several of which feature in the novel.
This really is an absurd quote to have on the cover. How could a light-hearted novel like this ever be considered dangerous?

An odd assortment of folk, split between the north and south of England, connected loosely by family ties, try without much success to look after a baby. We have some strong characterization verging on stereotypes: the mad vicar and his ex-hippy wife, several feisty old ladies, bad boys with kind hearts, upright old general, etc etc.
The whole plot is too ridiculous to be taken seriously and therefore the novel can't be anything more than entertaining, which it does at least manage to be. A bit more editing might have helped; there's some sloppy writing in places and a few mistakes.
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on 8 October 2014
Fantastic.
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0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 23 December 2012
Some of the characters were interesting enough although some were really characatures. The plot lacked focus. I was very surprised that the end was the end. There was an awful lot of exhausting driving about in cars.
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3 of 7 people found the following review helpful
This is the story of Faith Fox, a baby born to a mother who dies shortly after the birth and who leaves a gaping hole in the lives of all who knew her.

It tells of the lives of those who were affected by that loss, the mother's mother, the husband, the brother in law down to random friends and extended family. It is a book which sprawls every which way in a great swirling mass of bereavement and loss.

Faith, the eponymous heroine is oblivious, a tiny child passed from pillar to post, unwanted by those who should want her most and mostly ignored from the first page to the last until she becomes the key to salvation.

I found this a mess of a book with unsympathetic characters and frustrating dead ends of plots that went nowhere and meant nothing. I understand that death is about loss and emptiness and dealing with the great hole that is rent in the fabric of existence for those left behind, but I would have preferred to spend less time standing in the hole looking out and more time feeling that the book was actually going somewhere meaningful, except in the last ten, hugely over symbolic pages.
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