This is my first novel by Helen Oyeyemi and I am shocked at what has happened to me. My mind has been left in tatters; I just can’t decide how I feel about this book. The beginning was interesting enough, then I just got lost and right at the point where I gave up trying to understand it, everything seemed to start making sense. It would be easier to describe this as a collection of short stories ( or like Supernatural, the TV series) in the way there is always a major arc ( Mr. Fox, his wife and Mary Foxe’s real life drama) and there are other stories that seem separate but help move the main plot forward.
In order to retain my sanity, I’ll be sticking with the main plot which has our title character (Mr. Fox) trying to deal with his mental health (that’s my take). He has created a perfect woman for himself, one he can do any and every thing to in his stories (he’s a writer) but then his imaginary friend comes to life (I had a hard time with this, did she come to life or our characters suffer from the same mental illness).
This mental affair with his fictional muse, begins to have significant effects on his life in reality, his wife thinks he’s having an affair, he is thinking of eloping with this fictional character and in between all of this, we are travelling through time and around the world as Mary and Mr. Fox play different characters in weird love stories. I will not pretend to understand the theme of the short stories, all I know is Mr. Fox seems to enjoy finding very painful ways for his female characters to die. I may read it again to try to make sense of it as a whole (or not!) but if you read it as a collection of short stories, it is definitely an interesting book.
I probably didn’t ‘get’ the story because I am not familiar with a lot of the folklore in the book and I just couldn’t visualize what I was reading.
This book left me confused and feeling fantastically under-educated but I still had a few good laughs so it wasn’t a complete disaster.
If you have read this book, please let me know how you felt about it in the comments.
“There were days when he touched the tip of her nose and it was enough, a miracle of plenty.
But who finds happiness interesting?
One day the woman stamped her foot and wished her man dead. So he died. (And now you know what a Yoruba woman can be like sometimes.)”
Title: Mr. Fox
Author: Helen Oyeyemi
Published by: Riverhead books
Year of Publication: 2011
Fairy-tale romances end with a wedding, and the fairy tales don’t get complicated. In this book, the 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.
Mary challenges Mr. Fox to join her in stories of their own devising; and in different times and places, the two of them seek each other, find each other, thwart each other, and try to stay together, even when the roles they inhabit seem to forbid it. Their adventures twist the fairy tale into nine variations, exploding and teasing conventions of genre and romance, and each iteration explores the fears that come with accepting a lifelong bond. 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?
The extraordinarily gifted Helen Oyeyemi has written a love story like no other. Mr. Fox is a magical book, endlessly inventive, as witty and charming as it is profound in its truths about how we learn to be with one another.
Quiet and obsessed with books.