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Mr Fox [Paperback]

Helen Oyeyemi
4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (7 customer reviews)
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Book Description

3 Jun 2011
It’s an ordinary afternoon in 1938 for the celebrated American novelist St John Fox, hard at work in the study of his suburban home – until his long-absent muse wanders in. Mary Foxe (beautiful, British and 100% imaginary) is in a playfully combative mood. “You’re a villain,” she tells him. ‘A serial killer . . . can you grasp that?” Mr Fox has a predilection for murdering his heroines. Mary is determined to change his ways. And so she challenges him to join her in stories of their own devising, and the result is an exploration of love like no other. It isn’t long before Mrs Daphne Fox becomes suspicious, and St John is offered a choice: a life with the girl of his dreams, or a life with an all-too-real woman who delights him more than he cares to admit. Can there be a happy ending this time? Mr Fox is a magical book, as witty as it is profound in its truths about how we learn to be with one another.

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Product details

  • Paperback: 288 pages
  • Publisher: Picador (3 Jun 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0330536265
  • ISBN-13: 978-0330536264
  • Product Dimensions: 13.9 x 21.7 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (7 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 396,199 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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'An outstanding addition to an impressive body of work, this is Oyeyemi's best, most beautiful novel yet.' Independent on Sunday

'Her depiction of Mr Fox's hard-boiled swagger and Mary s life as a lonely English governess is funny and fresh.' --Daily Telegraph

'The dialogue zips along and Oyeyemi reveals a twinkling sense of humour . . . Lovers of metafiction, magic realism and all things fabulist will find Oyeyemi's energetic imagination a delight.' Independent

'funny, deep, shocking, wry, heart-warming and spine-chilling. She offers a phantasmagorical rendering of the deepest emotional truths, not least among which is a razor-sharp dissection of the topsy-turvy logic of misogyny that blames women for the violence inflicted on them. She's not real, honey, St John assures Daphne about Mary. 'She's only an idea. I made her up.' Oyeyemi breathes life into ideas like nobody else.' Guardian

'this prodigiously talented writer s take on the Bluebeard myth is a piece of modern magical realism that is not just vibrantly imaginative but filled with wit and wisdom . . . Oyeyemi's remarkable gift for depicting multiple worlds populated with the living, ghosts, of the dead and creatures of the imagination makes Mr Fox her best book so far.' --Metro

About the Author

Helen Oyeyemi was born in Nigeria in 1984 and moved to London when she was four. She is the author of The Icarus Girl, The Opposite House, and, most recently, White is for Witching, which won a 2010 Somerset Maugham Award.

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Customer Reviews

4.3 out of 5 stars
4.3 out of 5 stars
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Mr Fox 15 Oct 2013
Mr Fox begins in 1938 as celebrated author St John Fox sits in his study, pondering bleakly on his latest work, when he receives an unexpected visit from his delightfully offbeat and wholly imaginary muse, Mary Foxe. Mary has a bone to pick with the villainously imaginative Mr Fox: "You kill women. You're a serial killer. Can you grasp that?" She clearly doesn't like the way his literary career has developed. She challenges him to join her in a series of stories of their own devising where the various romances that they conjure put Mr Fox through his paces and challenge his notions of love.

A happy marriage can be hard to achieve at the best of times but, with the delectable Miss Mary back on the scene, it's no wonder that Daphne Fox, St John's long-suffering wife, is more worried than usual. Concerned about her [still imaginary] rival's reappearance in her husband's life, Daphne throws herself into the storytelling ring.

The narrative of Mr Fox switches between St John's everyday life and his storytelling duel with Mary. The transition may initially be a little puzzling, but it quickly becomes apparent that chapters with titles cover Mr Fox's fantastical fictional voyages while the nameless chapters are rooted within the realm of his reality. As the stories progress, it becomes clear that St John is a slave to his imagination and that Daphne has ever reason to be worried - it seems that her husband is incapable of being satisfied with what he has already got. Not all of the tories told by St John and Mary completely gel together within the context of he novel as a whole, but they are still great vignettes.
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3.0 out of 5 stars Too dislocated 8 April 2014
By Mrs. K. A. Wheatley TOP 500 REVIEWER VINE VOICE
I usually love Helen Oyeyemi's work, but this one didn't really work for me. Firstly it reminded me very much of John Fowles' novel Mantissa, in which an author flirts perilously with his imaginary muse. Secondly I just found it so much hard work that I forgot to enjoy it. I have loved everything else she has ever written, but this did not grab me like the rest. I wish it had. It has playful, fairy tale elements and flights of magical realism that I usually enjoy but the actual shape of the novel was too choppy for me to settle with it.
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Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
Written in her mid-twenties, Helen Oyeyemi's "Mr Fox" is not so much a fully-fledged novel as a delicious entertainment. And as one might expect from such a young author, it is not so much about the experience of Life with a capital L as about the art of Fiction with a capital F, a writer writing about writers and writing.

There are dozens of interlinked tales in "Mr Fox," some a few lines long, others extending to the length of short stories, all centering on the cruelty that men and women can show each other within loving relationships. In that sense, the book is somewhat fragmented. Indeed, as the Yoruba woman remarks, surely a reference to the author herself, "I have too many stories."

Comparisons with Françoise Sagan, whose "Bonjour Tristesse" was published before she was 20, are interesting. Both authors were greeted with acclaim, astonishment, success and wealth with their first published novels. Sagan, however, never quite lived up to the expectations she created -- whereas Oyeyemi is certain to do so.

"Mr Fox" is full of enchanting narrative games -- stories within stories, characters who leap from an author's imagination and take on lives of their own -- but in the end, the book is as mysterious as that other, now somewhat forgotten, novel about transformations, David Garnett's "Lady Into Fox," A Man in the Zoo: AND Lady into Fox (Vintage classics)

Oyeyemi's style is lighter and more colloquial here than in her other novels, but her prose is bewitching, full of arresting images and sparkling turns of phrase. Perhaps the most bewitching thing of all is the effortlessness of this book. It simply materializes out of the air like a phantasmagoria.
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5.0 out of 5 stars For lovers of word-frills 9 Jan 2013
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
If you're good with language yourself, you'll enjoy how it's taunted, pulled and played with here. If you're not so good, you may learn a thing or three.
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