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Molly Fox's Birthday Paperback – 23 Apr 2009

25 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Paperback: 240 pages
  • Publisher: Faber and Faber (23 April 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0571239668
  • ISBN-13: 978-0571239665
  • Product Dimensions: 12.6 x 1.6 x 19.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (25 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 528,689 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Review

'A beautiful novel.' -- Frank McGuinness

'A novel of great subtlety, beauty and strength. She is one of our finest writers.' -- Anne Enright

'A thoughtful, beautifully poised novel.' -- Financial Times

'Equipped with an almost celestial compassion, Madden is the constant genius of Irish letters.' -- Sebastian Barry

`It is almost impossible not to be moved.' -- Scotsman --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

Review

'Equipped with an almost celestial compassion, Madden is the constant genius of Irish letters.' --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Customer Reviews

3.9 out of 5 stars

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

20 of 21 people found the following review helpful By emma who reads a lot TOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on 19 Jun. 2009
Format: Paperback
Molly Fox is an actress, who has lent her Dublin home to her best friend, the playwright who narrates this story. The book tells the story of one midsummer day (which also happens to be Molly's birthday) with the playwright in Molly's spare room trying to write a new play, her twentieth. She discusses her relationship with Molly; her relationship with her family, including her brother Tom who is a priest; her highs and lows; her attitude toward love; and most of all, she discusses playwriting, acting and how people go about doing these as jobs.

It's this bit of the book that I wasn't expecting, and found really stimulating. If you've never thought much before about the process of acting, this is the most superb exploration of the weirdness of standing on a stage, 'being' somebody else, and why someone might end up wanting to do that for a job.

However, the book is also a great read in terms of the characters and the vividness with which it is all portrayed. It's a testament to the writing that you never have any trouble keeping track of the large cast of characters, who are all vividly conjured up. And as one other reviewer said, the house itself is a beautifully portrayed part of the novel, almost a character in itself. Madden's descriptions of Dublin on a hot summer's day are lovely too. A really wonderful summery read, with all the underlying strength and interest you could want from the most serious of books.
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16 of 18 people found the following review helpful By Purpleheart TOP 100 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on 3 Aug. 2009
Format: Paperback
'In the dream I was walking through the streets of a strange city in a foreign country I did not recognise'.

The novel opens with the narrator's dream as she awakens in the house of her dear friend Molly Fox. My heart sank a little - I thought starting with a dream didn't augur well for the novel. I was wrong. It's the best novel I've read in a while.

Molly Fox's Birthday examines the friendship between the playwright narrator, Molly Fox, an actor, and Andrew, an old university friend of the nameless narrator. Each of the three have siblings that have great importance in their lives; for the narrator it's Catholic priest Father Tom, for Molly it's Fergus, who has a voice as magical as hers but is psychologically fragile. For Andrew, his brother Tony continues to have importance, even though they were not close and had nothing in common.
Through the course of one day, midsummer's day and Molly Fox's birthday, the narrator thinks about all of these players and has visits with two of them and a phone call with another. The narrator mentions how as playwright and actor both she and Molly have an interest in the transformation of the self. And that is why I liked this novel so much - it's about self transformation, identity, the bits of ourselves that our friends see and the bits our family sees.

Molly has becomes great friends with the narrator's brother Tom and her dear friend Andrew - the narrator know that she isn't allowed similar privileges with Fergus Fox. After he visits the house, delivering a birthday present, she thinks about their conversation as she gets her supper `How completely I had bought Molly's version of him! And even more to the point , how completely I had bought Molly's version of herself'.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Susie B TOP 50 REVIEWER on 23 Mar. 2014
Format: Paperback
Molly Fox, a well-known and well-regarded actor, has left her colourful and characterful Dublin home in the care of her playwright friend whilst she is in New York. The friend, who is the unnamed narrator of this story, has known Molly for years, and over this time has written many successful plays, Molly having starred in the very first one. Finding it difficult to find inspiration for the writing of her next play, our narrator takes advantage of the beautiful midsummer weather and, on the day of Molly's fortieth birthday, she takes time out from her work to reflect on her own life, her friendship with Molly, and also her relationship with an old university friend, Andrew. As our narrator spends time relaxing in Molly's beautiful house and garden, we learn a little about her extended family and of her close relationship with her older brother, Tom, a Roman Catholic priest; we also read about her long friendship with Andrew and of his endeavours to leave his working-class roots behind him, reinventing himself to become an acclaimed art historian, but who cannot quite get over the death of his paramilitary brother, Billy, who was shot dead in Belfast. And, of course, we learn more about our narrator's relationship with the talented but reserved Molly, who, due to a traumatic family incident, never celebrates her own birthday.

Beautifully written, as are all of Deirdre Madden's novels, this is a quiet, yet powerful story of friendship, family, identity, truth and dissimulation; it's also very much about how the past impacts on the present.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By CC on 1 July 2013
Format: Paperback
This is a story about friendship and betrayal and contrary to what some reviewers claimed, there is a twist in the end, which I'm not going to reveal, but which I missed the first time I read it. It is a deceptively simple novel which is easy to read quickly and think nothing of - on the second reading I had to keep putting it down and going away from it, and coming back to it, to let it sink in and also to enjoy it properly. The narrator herself reminded me a little of the narrator in Beth Gutcheon's Gossip, though in Madden's novel she doesn't even have a name. She - the narrator - describes Molly's life and house vividly, but doesn't tell us much about her own present life (only her past), and as the story unfolds there is a building discomfort. Molly is a cuckoo, a manipulator, and one of those annoying people who has to have every relationship on their own terms or not at all, but not a bad person anymore than the narrator. The last sequence is almost painful to read as much is revealed to the narrator and she chooses to ignore it. At least that's what I got from it. But even to sum it up like this is to do it an injustice. The book is about a mood, too, a brilliantly-evoked mood of yearning and dissatisfaction, in the seductive setting of Molly Fox's perfect Dublin house. (And would the narrator be such a good playwright if she wasn't like this? Probably not, as the therapist encounter lets us figure out). The last few paragraphs are masterly, and again, you could miss them first time around. I am actually looking forward to time elapsing so that I can read this novel again, and get more out of it. Some reviewers said it was plotless, and on the face of it it might seem to be so, but it is actually a very tightly-built narrative. I am so glad I re-read it.
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