Friday, 25 September 2015

Mr Fox by Helen Oyeyemi (3/5)

First published: 2011
Page count: 278

The back says: 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 he 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?


I say:  This could have been so much better than it was, and I have to admit I was rather disappointed in the turn the story took. It starts off with Mary Foxe sending St John Fox a letter saying that she enjoyed one of his short stories. Mr Fox replies and after a few exchanges agrees to meet Mary and read her works. 

So far, so good...

I enjoyed the banter of the letters and I enjoyed Mr Fox’s short stories. However, as the novel progresses Mary and Mr Fox have gotten to know each other and their exchanges come across as laboured and almost painful to read. She wants him to stop murdering the women in his stories and he sees no reason why. 

Then his wife becomes suspicious that he’s cheating...

I must admit that what happens after Mrs Fox become suspicious was unexpected and I wish Oyeyemi would have done more with. The reason the novel gets a 3/5 has more to do with my expectations than the novel itself; 

I just wanted something different. 

The prose was light-hearted and it was a quick read with some humour and I do look forward to reading more of Oyeyemi’s work. To be noted is that there is a short fable at the end of the novel that was quite beautiful.

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