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Mr Fox Paperback – 3 Jun 2011

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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: 13.5 x 2.3 x 21.6 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (11 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 819,735 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description

Review

'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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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Erin Britton on 15 Oct. 2013
Format: Paperback
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 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Mrs. K. A. Wheatley TOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on 8 April 2014
Format: Paperback
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: Paperback
I hadn't heard of either Helen Oyeyemi or Mr Fox when I was first handed this book. This, I think, was a good thing, having since seen the polarisation of opinion it has caused within its Amazon and Goodreads reviews - I got to read it from a clean start with no expectation.

I say that's a good thing, because I'm now left to make up my own mind about something that's very hard to make up my mind about. I know for definite that I liked the book - it was almost impossible to put down at times - but understanding it is another matter.

To parrot what so many other reviews have said, this is more a collection of short stories connected by a theme (one which is at times so thin that it takes a few pages to find) than a coherent linear novel. We are presented with the recurring characters of novelist St. John Fox and his long-suffering wife Daphne who, we think, he probably loves despite his not seeming too sure of it himself. To confuse both us and them we also meet Mary Foxe, a figment of St. John's imagination who initially appears to be the intelligent, strong-willed (not to mention sensual) match, and sometimes complement, to St. John's intellect that his wife simply cannot be.

Mary is cast as many different characters, and sometimes does not appear at all, while facets of her and the others seem to appear in new characters to tell stories that are almost, but not quite, entirely unrelated to the St. John / Daphne / Mary narrative.

The whole thing is bound together by a sort of dream-logic, with recurring themes that are more like patterns and insinuations than solid plot points.
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Format: Paperback
Author St. John Fox stands accused of multiple murder - by his own muse and creation Mary Foxe. He also finds himself on the brink of divorce from his jealous wife, Daphne, who believes he is having an affair. Is St. John in love with Mary or Daphne? And does choosing one necessarily mean the end of the other? What's a man to do?

Stories within stories, slipping times and locations, where do memories and fantasies collide and divide? If you prefer a linear narrative, this is not the book for you. It reads like a dream, fragmenting when you try to make sense of it, but coming together in an inexplicable but satisfying way. Thankfully, Oyeyemi is cleverer than her potentially pretentious premise (and structure), and while I began reading sceptically, by the end I was hugely entertained by the way she turned the tables. (Although I was not quite convinced by the actual final chapter, feeling that the narrative had already reached its natural conclusion by that point.)

The plot stems from the contrived premise of a character coming to life with accusations against her creator. But as St. John writes and re-writes, constructs, deconstructs and reconstructs Mary's life (/lives) more and more is revealed about him and his own life. At first I was unconvinced by what seemed like a thin framing device for a collection of short stories. I was marginally annoyed by that, because I really enjoyed the individual short stories (and I am not usually a fan of story collections) and thought framing them as a novel was something of a cheat doing neither novel nor stories justice. The stories have a different rhythm to the connecting tissue of St John Fox's `real' life and interaction with Mary, echoing the formula of fairy tale.
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