Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “Mr. Fox” as Want to Read:
Mr. Fox
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

Mr. Fox

3.57  ·  Rating Details ·  5,504 Ratings  ·  966 Reviews
It’s a bright afternoon in 1938 and Mary Foxe is in a confrontational mood. St John Fox, celebrated novelist, hasn’t seen her in six years. He’s unprepared for her afternoon visit, not least because she doesn’t exist. He’s infatuated with her. But he also made her up.
“You’re a villain,” she tells him. ‘A serial killer . . . can you grasp that?”
Will Mr Fox meet his muse’s c
Paperback, 278 pages
Published June 3rd 2011 by Picador (first published January 1st 2011)
More Details... edit details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about Mr. Fox, please sign up.

Recent Questions

This question contains spoilers… (view spoiler)

Community Reviews

(showing 1-30)
filter  |  sort: default (?)  |  Rating Details
Helen Oyeyemi can write voices. Men’s voices, women’s voices, English voices, American voices, Nigerian voices, French voices, human voices, animal voices.
I’d trust her to write an authentic voice from any geographical location, any time frame, any political situation, any gender, any species.
Because Helen Oyeyemi truly owns the world she lives in.

She can write stories that become novels and novels made from stories.
She can write in different styles, be it myth or modern.
She can play around wit
He shrugged. "These are our circumstances. I'm just trying to make sense of them," he said.
Mary was silent.
"Everyone dies." He smiled crookedly. "I doubt it's ever a pleasant experience. So does it really matter how it happens?"
"Yes!" She put a hand on his arm, trying to pass her shock through his skin. "Yes."
This starts off cute, then begins to cut. It's metafiction, but in the sense of reality feeding books feeding reality, the recursiveness of ideology as word turns work in the most co
Dec 04, 2013 Julie rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction
This is not a book for the light of mind, or faint of heart.

There is such a haunting, beautiful ... emptiness ... to it all, that I feel I should be giving it more stars than I am. Every body else seems to think it's a good read, and so I must be missing something, right? But the majority of those who say what a good book it really is don't seem to know why.

Let me suggest a Poem:

I heard of a man
who says words so beautifully
that if he only speaks their name
women give themselves to him.

If I am
2 stars
3 stars
4 stars
4.5 stars
5 stars!!

Well I liked the opening, but it took me a while to get over the slime of St John, the sleaziness he spread everywhere. There was a voice, a piping, femme-seeming voice struggling with self-confidence that seemed to be Mary's, but nothing was clean, there was this fug of the male gaze. The women were preoccupied with their looks, their attractiveness, craving male attention. But this gender horror is real, rape culture is in us, there is no pure desire, pur
Friederike Knabe
Jul 28, 2012 Friederike Knabe rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: uk-lit
Mr. Fox is about the most enchanting and captivating book I have read in quite some time. Helen Oyeyemi is a highly inventive and multi-faceted storyteller. Her characters are both anchored in reality and in the worlds of fantasy and fairy tales. They can be serious or funny and ironic, they can fall in love beyond bounds or hate with a passion, they can be docile and subdued or vicious and violent. Underneath it all are serious issues being addressed despite the playful manner in which the nove ...more
Vulpes - Latin for fox. Old French goupil derives from the Latin, but the popularity of Le Roman De Renart and the bad augur of actually naming the 'verminous' creature meant that renard became used, first as a euphemism, and then as the standard term for fox. Reynard, associated with Reinhard, which comes from old German Regin - counsel and hart - strong, thus someone who is resourceful, quick-witted, clever. The English word fox is similar to the German Fuchs, which apparently corresponds to t ...more
Dec 04, 2013 Sonja rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
I am so pleased that I picked up this book, because it has reminded me that life is far too short to persist with books that you don't like. This book is so capital-m Meta that it's probably illegal to write a review of it. Luckily, the novel was so busy interrogating tropes and questioning literary conventions and borrowing from genres that it didn't even notice when I shut it at about page 100 and shelved it.

I want a story and characters, which probably makes me more conservative than a Mad Me
This was nothing like I expected and I absolutely loved the whole fascinating, strange, perfectly sensible, crazy thing. Review posted in roundup of books on my blog:
Feb 13, 2016 Paul rated it it was amazing
This is a delightful and quirky play with a variety of myths and tropes. Primarily the Bluebeard myth; which is, as the Guardian review reminds us is “the usual – wooing, seduction, then – the discovery of a chopped-up predecessor". There is a fairy tale element running through; the main antagonist is writer St John Fox (Reynard the Fox runs through fairy tales going back for centuries).
The novel is set in the 1930s and St John Fox is a novelist whose novels usually end in the main female chara
Pippi Bluestocking
May 09, 2016 Pippi Bluestocking rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: gender-lit
I never liked crime fiction. I read from a variety of genres, I even read lots of trashy books too, but I think there isn't one who-dunnit I can like. There are a few reasons for this (one is that I usually figure out the culprit, but I'll shut up 'cause now I'm sounding like a git) but the most important one is that crime fiction trivialises human life in a way I cannot sympathise with. No one cares about the person who died or the people left behind; we only care about solving a puzzle, satisf ...more
Jan 28, 2015 Rincey rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I went into this with a slight disadvantage since I don't really know the fairytales/folklore that this book plays with, so I feel like I missed out on a lot of the interesting things that Oyeyemi does here. Also, this is Meta with a capital "M" which I can sometimes enjoy but I think a full novel and pushing and pulling and twisting literary devices got to be a bit wearing for me.

However, man can Oyeyemi write a story. If I took this as a short story collection, then man, these are some freaki
This novel proved to me the importance of sticking with a book longer than its first few pages. The metafictional whimsy of the first 50+ pages grated on me...and then all at once the book soared. Many times I feel that metafiction becomes cold and pointless, too self-aware for it to have greater purpose than to point back to the author's cleverness, so I tend to be on my guard when I begin a book that uses these elements. Oyeyemi's novel masterfully achieves what the best metafiction can do, th ...more
Jan 22, 2013 Roxane rated it really liked it
I enjoyed this because it is so imaginative and clever but I found it hard to finish and didn't feel like I "got" it. This was one of those books that was so enamored with its conceit that at times it loses the reader. Still, this is an audacious, important book well worth reading.
I don't really know what happened here, but I enjoyed every bit of it. This is more of a short story collection with a linking narrative. I really loved some of the short stories. Not sure if this makes me want to read more from Oyeyemi, but I will enjoy rereading this!
Sentimental Surrealist
Aug 01, 2016 Sentimental Surrealist rated it it was amazing
Question for discussion: is Mr. Fox in fact a meta-romance novel, an attempt by Oyeyemi to make herself the Ursula K. Le Guin of that most beleagured of genres? Or is it in fact a meta-fairy tale with deep feminist implications that happens to use romance as the ground for its conflict, between a writer (Mr. Fox), his fictional muse (Mary Foxe), his concrete wife (Daphne Fox), and the author of Desperate Characters and several beloved children's novels (Paula Fox, who doesn't actually appear in ...more
Dec 26, 2011 Ellie rated it it was amazing
Mr. Fox by Helen Oyeyemi - the opening at least is very confusing but at the same time hilarious with lots of lovely prose. As I settled into it and recognized the flights of fantasy, I was less confused but still delighted by the fairy tale aspect and the general story-telling.

A favorite quote (there are too many to share a complete list!): "All around them people were speaking a language Brown didn't understand; it was like silence with sharp edges in it."

So many beautiful sentences, beautiful
Sep 30, 2013 Richard rated it it was amazing
Recommended to Richard by: Chris Barzak
Easy to read/hard to define/wonderful/full of wonder throughout. I've written a few fix-ups (sometimes called mosaic novels) in my time. It's a trick I love to play and at first I thought this was one: a dozen or two short stories written on a common theme and strung together.

But no, Mr. Fox is all original work and a far deeper riff, a series of variations on a theme of "Mr. Fox" the English folk tale that is itself a variation of the story the French call "Bluebeard" and the Germans "Fitcher'
Book Riot Community
Oyeyemi’s books are always kind of strange but filled with interesting ideas, and this is no exception. The main character, a writer named Mr. Fox, has been writing stories in which the women always die. Mary Foxe, an imaginary woman he made up as a sort of guide and muse, is now challenging him to do better. The two begin to write stories to each other, and although Mr. Fox does not immediately change his ways, the stories get deeper and more complex as the two writers, one real and one not, co ...more
"'I stood up and went to the window. When I got close to her she looked down at her watering can. "Mrs. Fox," I said. "You're a horror today." To which she replied, "Why don't you write a book about it?'"

This is the story of, well, Mr. Fox. And Mr.Fox has one major failing: he can't stop killing all his female characters. Of course, this is a failing many people (men, really) share with him, but most of them make it through life perfectly fine, never thinking this particular indulgence of theirs
Feb 28, 2012 Jennifer rated it it was ok
Book Description

Considering that I’m still not really sure exactly what was going on, writing this summary shall be a challenge. Let’s see … as best as I can tell, the story is about a writer (Mr. Fox) who is married to a woman named Daphne but is having an affair of sorts with his muse (Mary Foxe), who is slowly taking corporeal form in the real world. But when I tell you that this story is not told in a straightforward way, trust me on that

My Thoughts

The story of this love triangle is told in
Aug 01, 2011 branewurms rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: fans of Helen Oyeyemi and also everyone else
I don't know, I don't know, I don't knowwwww. The more deeply a book touches me, the less I know how to say anything about it. My reaction to this book is kind of like how I feel when I look at the moon; I'm full of all these senseless impulses, I want to eat it, I want to breathe it. It should be cool and bright in my mouth. Every word is luminous and strange and wonderful. I want everyone in the world to read it and love it like I do and talk about it so I can consume all their thoughts, too. ...more
Ilenia Zodiaco
Un'interessante sperimentazione metaletteraria sul rapporto tra l'autore e i suoi personaggi. In particolare, è messa in discussione in maniera ironica e brillante l'autoritarismo dello scrittore nei confronti dei personaggi femminili, troppo spesso brutalizzati inutilmente per amore del cliché scabroso. Mr. Fox - il condiscendente autore serial killer, con il vizio di far fuori tutte le sue eroine - e la musa ispiratrice Mary Foxe - compagna ideale fabbricata dalla sua immaginazione - ingaggera ...more
Nov 17, 2014 Cher rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: audiobook
1.5 stars - I didn't like it.

DNF'd at 40%. This is a very unusual and unconventional story, but unfortunately in this case, the strangeness hampered the novel rather than making it wonderfully unique. It is about a man that is having a mental affair with his fictional muse, which is having significant effects on his life in reality. There are also interspersed short stories of fiction the man and muse collaborate on, which are interwoven into the "real life" reality and fictional (mental b/t the
Feb 07, 2012 Megan rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 5-stars, fiction
Exactly my cup of tea, but I did not know that when I started reading. The term "experimental fiction" tends to make me flee, and yes, this is a novel constructed of short stories and its filled with allegory and magical realism and ground shifting underneath your feet, BUT I found it immensely accessible, because of its vivid characters, beautiful prose, and complicated thoughts and emotions. This book is a mosaical look at the Bluebeard fairy tale and its variants (I hadn't even thought of Jan ...more
May 07, 2012 Judy rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Sue
This book will not be appreciated by everyone, perhaps most people if the 3.47 star average is any indication. (Maybe they weren't carrying around their lucky fox foot charm when they picked it up!) However, I'm the exception because this book's quirkiness tickled my fancy. Mr. Fox consists of multiple stories headlined by foxes or main characters with either fox or wolf in their names. All these stories are strung together by the evolving storyline of Mr. Fox, a writer, and his naughty muse, Ma ...more
Jun 13, 2013 Sarah rated it really liked it
I don't know.

I love Helen Oyeyemi's voice, but I kinda feel like she was trying to do too much with this. I couldn't find the basic outline. I couldn't keep track of who represented what!

Mary, for instance, is said to be Mr. Fox's muse/creation...but I just couldn't see that. I don't think she quite works on that level. To me, the character works solely as a representation of the invalidated female voice: not a muse, not Mr. Fox's creation at all.--Or is that the whole point?--And Mrs. Fox
David Hebblethwaite
Jul 26, 2011 David Hebblethwaite rated it really liked it
At first, I was under the impression that Helen Oyeyemi’s fourth book was going to be a short story collection; then I heard it was a novel. Now I’ve read Mr Fox, and it turns out to be a mixture of the two: a novel built around (and largely told through) short stories. We begin in New York of 1938, when the writer St John Fox receives a visit from his (imaginary, yet in a sense perfectly real) muse Mary Foxe, who has come to protest at Fox’s propensity for killing off the women in his fiction. ...more
Jul 09, 2012 Sarah rated it liked it
Beautiful prose, and a clever premise built on the backs of the dark Bluebeard and Mister Fox fairy tales. A little too clever and experimental for my taste. Almost a collection of linked short stories, and maybe best viewed as such. I liked it, but it was a little too cold for me.
Mar 05, 2012 Katie rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: fairy tale fans, those looking for something smart and different
Recommended to Katie by: amazon
What a mess. In theory, Mr. Fox is right up my alley: playful language, reinterpretations of fairy tales and folklore, and complicated ideas about the nature of story. In execution, it's fairly awful. I didn't care about any of the characters, nor did I understand them. The novel would have worked better as a short story collection, but I would have skipped quite a few of the stories. There were some great sentences scattered here and there, but a few snappy turns of phrase does not make for a g ...more
Jul 14, 2013 Joy rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I love being wonderfully surprised by a book. Helen Oyeyemi has created a clever, thoughtful, wicked, and inventive novel. She draws on the story of "Bluebeard" and other similar tales of men murdering beautiful women. But this is no fairy-tale retelling. With the title character, Mr. St. John Fox, himself an author of books where the killing of women is commonplace, and his muse- Mary Foxe- a beguiling character come to life, Oyeyemi examines the nature of creation, storytelling, and violence a ...more
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 next »
topics  posts  views  last activity   
500 Great Books B...: Mr. Fox - Helen Oyeyemi - Aubrey 8 32 Oct 30, 2016 05:33PM  
2015 Reading Chal...: Mr. Fox by Helen Oyeyemi 6 37 Feb 12, 2015 02:22PM  
FABClub (Female A...: Mr. Fox Discussion! (March/Apr 2014) 14 31 May 21, 2014 06:19PM  
  • Baba Yaga Laid an Egg
  • The Kappa Child
  • The Salt Roads
  • Redemption in Indigo
  • A Man Came Out of a Door in the Mountain
  • The Salinger Contract
  • Deathless (Leningrad Diptych, #1)
  • Wizard of the Crow
  • There Once Lived a Woman Who Tried to Kill Her Neighbor's Baby: Scary Fairy Tales
  • Madeleine is Sleeping
  • Orkney
  • Map of Dreams
  • Elementals: Stories of Fire and Ice
  • What I Didn't See: and Other Stories
  • Gossip from the Forest
  • The House of Discarded Dreams
  • Myths & Legends of the British Isles
  • Foxlowe
Helen Oyeyemi is a British novelist. She graduated from Cambridge University in 2006, has written a total of seven books (lucky seven!) and lives in Prague with an ever-increasing number of teapots.
More about Helen Oyeyemi...

Share This Book

No trivia or quizzes yet. Add some now »

“Solitary people, these book lovers. I think it's swell that there are people you don't have to worry about when you don't see them for a long time, you don't have to wonder what they do, how they're getting along with themselves. You just know that they're all right, and probably doing something they like.” 126 likes
“I’m never sad when a friend goes far away, because whichever city or country that friend goes to, they turn the place friendly. They turn a suspicious-looking name on the map into a place where a welcome can be found. Maybe the friend will talk about you sometimes, to other friends that live around him, and then that’s almost as good as being there yourself. You’re in several places at once! In fact, my daughter, I would even go so far as to say that the further away your friends, and the more spread out they are the better your chances of going safely through the world…” 42 likes
More quotes…