Review Blog

May 26 2020

In the time of foxes by Jo Lennan

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Scribner, 2020. ISBN: 9781760855697.
(Age: 16+) Recommended. Foxes are survivors; they've adapted to the urban environment. They are reknown for being cunning and predatory. In the first story in this collection by Jo Lennan, Nina has a Fox Situation - they have created a 'breeding earth' in a hollowed tree stump at the bottom of her garden and have become a nuisance to her family and neighbours, with the exception of her young son Ronnie who loves to watch their antics through the window. It's a problem that Nina struggles to find a humane solution to, just as at the same time she is coming to terms with her mother's dementia and how best to care for her.
The foxes in the first story are there, wild and free, and persistent. Other stories also tell of some kind of encounter with a fox, but it is not always the animal itself, it may be a charming man with a silver mane of hair, or someone clever and dangerous. Or a person coming to understand the hidden cunning within themselves. All of the stories are insightful about relationships, the struggle between the apparent and the hidden, or the outward and the interior. And, as the publisher's blurb says, each narrative is a compressed novel.
They are very interesting stories; locations vary from London, Sydney, Tokyo, Hong Kong, even a station on Mars. They tell of relationships between parents and children, couples, friends, and childhood companions. And in the background somewhere there is always a fox.
Themes: Nature vs civilisation, Life and death, Friendships, Rivalry, Self-understanding.
Helen Eddy

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