by Helen Oyeyemi
Plot Summary:Fairytale romances end with a wedding. The fairytales that don't get more complicated. In this book, celebrated writer Mr. Fox can't stop himself from killing off the heroines of his novels, and neither can his wife, Daphne. It's not until Mary, his muse, comes to life and transforms him from author into subject that his story begins to unfold differently. Meanwhile, Daphne becomes convinced that her husband is having an affair, and finds her way into Mary and Mr. Fox's game. And so Mr. Fox is offered a choice: Will it be 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?
Review:With a book like this, it is difficult to say whether I liked it or not. Stories that are allegorical, with meanings and subtext hidden under layers of words are admirable I feel, because I do appreciate that there is a deeper meaning, but unfortunately I don't always quite know what that meaning is. This book does push you to think about the original fairy tale "Mr. Fox", and the interplay between male and female relationships, especially how it is told in stories. The book is a series of vignettes, with the main plot interrupted by a variety of tales that are told alternately from a male and a female point of view. Each vignette seems to elucidate some aspect of Mr. Fox's (the author) strange relationship with his muse, Mary Foxe. And only later in the novel is the wife, Daphne, given a true voice, which felt a little odd, as I wished I had known her better from the beginning. But then again, I can see how it mirrors the original tale, because only after Daphne knows Mr. Fox's secret can she interact in the story.
As a story, I think this book will appeal to a specific kind of reader, who likes a challenge and who is not as interested in plot and characters but ideas. And good writing, as the author definitely writes lyrical and powerful prose - her writing is something to be savored. As a reworking and commentary on the fairy tale "Mr. Fox," the author seems to have looked at many different angles on the tale, but ultimately I'm not sure what the message is, or what the attitude towards the original tale might be. It's a very readable book however, if you enjoy the different scenarios the author drops you into and the thought-provoking nature of the stories. Personally these kinds of books don't appeal to me in general, but once in a while it is nice to try something different!
Part of the Project Fairy Tale Reading Challenge