You’ve seen a fox.
Come face to face in an unexpected place, or at an unexpected moment.
And he has looked at you, as you have looked at him. As if he has something to tell you, or you have something to tell him.
But what if it didn’t stop there?
When Mary arrives home from work one day to find a magnificent fox on her lawn – his ears spiked in attention and every hair bristling with his power to surprise – it is only the beginning. He brings gifts (at least, Mary imagines they are gifts), and gradually makes himself at home.
And as he listens to Mary, Mary listens back.
She begins to hear herself for the first time in years. Her bullish ex-boyfriend, still lurking on the fringes of her life, would be appalled. So would the neighbours with a new baby. They only like wildlife that fits with the decor. But inside Mary a wildness is growing that will not be tamed.
In this extraordinary debut, the lines between sanity and safety, obsession and delusion blur, in a thrilling exploration of what makes us human.
This is not a light and whimsical tale of a woman’s relationship with a friendly fox, but much more of a dark and mentally consuming story, the hint of a foreboding fairy tale, if you like, of a desperately lonely woman, who seems no longer able to truly connect with those humans around her, but gradually develops a relationship with a fox that firstly enters her garden, and gradually her heart, mind and soul.
I imagine many readers will view Mary as somewhat unhinged, so it is perhaps slightly concerning how much of myself I saw in her. I experience isolation on a regular basis, I’m alone most of the day, as I work from home, my husband goes away for months on end with the military, I live hundreds of miles away from most of my family and friends, I live in the country and most days my only companion is my gorgeous 14 year old dog, Milo. I too talk to spiders, and explain to visitors that the reason there are cobwebs around the house is that I won’t destroy them while a spider in living in one. I live in harmony with all spiders in my house, much to the horror of some visitors who are terrified of them. I feel more closely connected to nature and animals than I do other humans, so I understood how Mary’s friendship developed with the fox.
This book left me feeling surprisingly emotional at the end and has been playing on my mind all day. I still keep trying to work out which parts of the story were in fact real or imagined in Mary’s mind. As deep emotions and complex thoughts are human traits, I suppose in a somewhat unusual and bizarre way, this book reminded me what it is to be human.
I’m torn on how to rate this book. For excitement of pace and plot it’s probably around 3 stars. For imagination, originality and for how it has left me feeling, then I would definitely award it 5 stars. This is a book that some people will absolutely love, while others will either feel bored or just find it far too weird for their minds to cope with.
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