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Molly Fox's Birthday Paperback – 23 Apr 2009


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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 (24 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 503,271 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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10 of 12 people found the following review helpful By Katharine Kirby TOP 100 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on 19 July 2009
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
The `action' all takes place on one special day and the narration by the unamed playwright who is her adoring friend. This is a gentle hymn to the art of the actor and the experience of being involved with the theatre in general. A quick read which leaves you wondering what may happen next...

The tantalising character of Molly Fox is the hook on which the book is set and the reader may come come to differing conclusions about her life from the writer.

All is carefully paced with helpful visits from important people in both her life and that of the writer, rather like a chorus, with their history attached. The penultimate guest is rather more problematic but again only in a gentle way. This book reminds me of Anita Brookner's writing and will definitely hit the spot with readers who enjoy a superbly written jewel of a book where much is hinted at but not a lot actually happens.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By P. L. Lim on 13 July 2009
Format: Paperback
The story is written concisely and beautifully about our interior lives and what friendships bring to it. There are three main characters around which all revolves, none of them in the same town, much less country, but they are more strongly bound than physical proximity, through memory. The narration is easy natural and deep. It is a must read.
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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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