Mr. Fox by Helen Oyeyemi

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I have to be honest. Mr. Fox is not an easy novel, also for it being an example of meta-novel (or story in the story) but mainly for the way it is built.

Mr. Fox writes novels where female characters always face a tragic death, but he is also an imaginative man, so much that Mary Foxe – his ideal woman imagined during the war in the trenches – actually takes form in his life.

He will have to share his affection between Mary, his ideal love, and Daphne, his real wife, who in fact he does not know as well as Mary. To this situation it adds the game between him and Mary, a sparring of tales and stories where the character have remarkable resemblance with the true Foxes and their relational dynamics: the stories, that contain at first more clear connections (characters with same name as the Foxes) and then more vague, cover different topics and narrative styles (a model who wants to forget his father, a school for wannabe husbands and so on) and leave space for the reader to find the connections to the main plot of the novel.

Foxes, is well-known, are tricky and illusionist creatures, and so the Foxes change the appearance in each story; in addition to this element that comes from the folklore (in Japan there are the kitsune, but foxes are deceitful also in the West), the novel takes also from the classical fairy tales and their characters, more or less noticeably.

It’s a novel I found it hard to explain, but I’m convinced it deserves to be read; for the ones who seek for a more detailed comment I suggest to read this review by Aimee Bender.

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* Mr. Fox by Helen Oyeyemi ★★★★☆

*I read this book in English

The bloody chamber and other stories by Angela Carter

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“The bloody chamber” is one of the stories by Angela Carter contained in this collection. The stories are inspired by fairy tales and myths, some of them in fact can also be defined as retelling.

The author stated that:

My intention was not to do ‘versions’ or, as the American edition of the book said, horribly, ‘adult’ fairy tales, but to extract the latent content from the traditional stories.

In every story the latent symbolism of the classic fairy tales is exasperated: these version by Angela Carter allow the reader to think about different topics and it’s very hard to let them slip out your mind; they are captivating, wonderfully written and full of idea to analyze both the original fairy tales themes, both the symbols introduced by the writer herself.

The tales have original traits even if they take origin from existing narrative structures: for example the story of Beauty and the Beast is adapted in two completely different versions.

The stories have in common strong-willed women characters, well aware of their sexuality – or becoming so during the story – who face with courage their problems.

This collection was a wonderful discovery that I absolutely suggest to read.

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* The bloody chamber and other stories by Angela Carter ★★★★★

*I read this book in English