I finally finished the book I’ve been reading since January! And I honestly don’t know how I feel about it. There is something about Helen Oyeyemi’s writing I really enjoy. I do love how distinctive it is. When you read one of her books, you know you’re reading Helen Oyeyemi. It’s an experience unlike that any other novel can provide. And Mr. Fox definitely is an experience.
(From Goodreads) Fairy-tale romances end with a wedding. The fairy tales 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 sifferently. 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?
Mr. Fox is easily one of the strangest things I’ve ever read. I finished it, and I still don’t quite know what it was about, really. But I liked it? I’m pretty sure I liked it. Whatever it was. Mostly because the writing itself was craftes beautifully. It was almost as if I was reading something that hadn’t actually been written, but simply came out of the story itself. (Which is ironic, because this is a book about writing and its consequences – Hey! I guess I do know what this book is about!)
This book centered around a writer, Mr. Fox; his wife, Daphne; and the woman he created, Mary Foxe. The three of them have a very complicated relationship, only partly due to the fact that Mr Fox can’t decide whether or not he loves a fictional woman more than his wife. But that already complex story is interspersed (interrupted) by short stories, “written” by Mr. Fox and Mary – yes, this book contains fiction written by a fictional character written by a fictional character (it’s super meta). And while I actually enjoyed most of the stories, the novel as a whole felt disjointed. There wasn’t much distinguishing the “real” Mr. Fox and Mary from their fictional counterparts, the characterizations of themselves they inserted into their stories. They were attempting to figure out their own relationship through stories. (I’m literally figuring out this book as I write.) Complicated? Yes. Even more so when you remember that A. Daphne knows about Mary (who is basically her husband’s imaginary mistress) and B. Mary doesn’t actually exist. I feel like I can’t even begin to explain this book in a way that makes sense.
The characters were my least favorite part of the book. I didn’t hate them, but I had a very hard time finding something to connect with, something to pull me into the story. They were very clinical and cold, both to each other and to the reader. The only character that really showed much emotion was Mary, but even that wasn’t much. Justifiable anger dissipated in seconds, love was a second thought. It just felt as if nothing stuck to them, and it didn’t feel real at all. Still, it was interesting to read, because the characters were so different than anything I’d encountered before.
In short: Mr. Fox is magical, but confusing as hell.
★★★☆☆ – I enjoyed Mr. Fox, but I definitely didn’t love it. I had a hard time connecting with the characters and the story, but I still can’t help but appreciate how brilliant it is as a whole. I have now read two of Oyeyemi’s novels, and I felt exactly the same way about both of them: confused and in awe. And, still, I want to read more.
if you’ve read any of her books, let me know what your favorite is in the comments!
You can purchase your copy of Mr. Fox on Amazon if you’re interested.
To get the audiobook for free, use this link to sign up for a free trial of Audible and choose Mr. Fox as one of your two free books.