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Molly Fox's Birthday

3.43  ·  Rating details ·  890 ratings  ·  179 reviews
A Finalist for the Orange Prize

It is the height of summer, and celebrated actor Molly Fox has loaned her house in Dublin to a friend while she is away performing in New York. Alone among all of Molly's possessions, struggling to finish her latest play, she looks back on the many years and many phases of her friendship with Molly and their college friend Andrew, and comes
Paperback, 221 pages
Published April 27th 2010 by Picador USA (first published 2008)
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Average rating 3.43  · 
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Lauren Albert
Apr 11, 2010 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction
My copy is littered with post-it flags. Most of what I marked were passages that showed great insight into human nature. It is what I would call a quiet book and what others would call dull. The narrator reflects back on her friendships, especially with actress Molly Fox, and wonders about how well we can know the people we love.
switterbug (Betsey)
Feb 22, 2011 rated it it was amazing
In this contemporary but timeless novel about relationships, identity, and home, Madden embraces the acting and playwright professions as central to the exploration of the human condition. The unnamed narrator, a successful playwright originally from Northern Ireland, is staying in Dublin at Molly Fox's house while Molly is in New York. Molly is a celebrated stage actress, a woman who seems mousy and nondescript in person but is charged with charisma on-stage. Moreover, she has a bewitching ...more
Jun 04, 2010 rated it really liked it
"Molly Fox’s Birthday," by the Irish author Deidre Madden, reminded me how much pleasure one can a get out of reading a charming, well written, unfussy novel, which is no small thing and something I had very nearly forgotten. The leisurely pace and construction of the novel almost forces the reader to slow down and relax no matter how hectic things are, and remember the good things in life are the smallest: a beautiful garden, a connection between two people, even an ice cold glass of water. It’ ...more
Priya Bhakta
This book is about female friendship, it's set over the course of one day looking back in a stream-of-consciousness style. This book had a lot of qualities I'd usually look for in a book but somehow it just didn't click for me.

I never felt that connected to the Narrator and, whilst she explored herself with regard to her relationships with other people, she never seemed to have an identity of her own. As the Narrator thinks about her relationship with Molly Fox (supposedly one of her dearest
Aug 02, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: march-2017
Molly Fox's Birthday is the first of Madden's books which I read several years ago, and remains my favourite. It is immediately entracing, and was just as good as I remembered it being upon my March 2017 reread. The structure and writing are taut, and the characters realistic. An understated novel by a similarly understated writer.
Mar 06, 2010 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
My little bro likened Molly Fox's Birthday to a Russian nesting doll & I wholeheartedly agree. It is beautifully crafted, quietly complex and contemplative. I didn't want it end.
Mar 31, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: hattlibrary
Written in a stream of consciousness style, this novel’s action all happens in one day, but covers a lifetime of feelings and interactions between the main characters. Very insightful and an excellent read.
Paul Secor
Aug 02, 2015 rated it really liked it
A quiet, gentle novel with mystery, pain, and strength beneath its surface.
Kate Murphy
Jun 04, 2009 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I loved the style of writing in this book and found all three main characters really interesting. One of the best books I've read in a while.
Friederike Knabe
Apr 22, 2010 rated it liked it
Molly Fox is a well known and highly respected actor. While staying in New York, her friend, a well-known playwright, preparing for her next "project", is staying in her house in Dublin. The unnamed and self-declared closest friend and admirer, is the narrator of this ode to love and friendship as she spends a day, Molly's birthday, reflecting on her friend, her own situation and the close relationships that have influenced her life since she met Molly some twenty years. Deirdre Madden draws the ...more
Jun 22, 2012 rated it really liked it
I think I have always understood the value of formulaic conversation and how it can make for real communication. Such exchanges can forge a link with someone when there is deep affection but no real common ground. Andrew, with his impatient intelligence, would never understand this. But I know Molly would agree with me. Her relationship with Fergus is built upon a similar visceral warmth, the childhood bond that has never been broken. Closeness of that particular type is perhaps only possible ...more
Shortlisted for the Orange Prize for Fiction 2009, Molly Fox’s Birthday focuses on a single day in the life of the unnamed narrator, which happens to coincide with the birthday of her dear friend, Molly Fox. Despite the title, the book does not focus on Molly Fox or even solely on the impact Molly Fox has had on her friend’s life. Rather, it focuses on the influence the narrator’s older brother and priest, Tom; boyfriends; family; college friend, Andrew Forde; Andrew’s family; Molly’s “crazy” ...more
Nov 28, 2012 rated it really liked it
This book is set in one day, Molly Fox's Birthday. Her friend has come to stay in her house while she is away in New York. Her friend is working on her new play and as the day moves on she is recalling how she and Molly met when Molly was the lead in her first play and also how other friends and lovers through the years have impacted on her life.She is also thinking about her own family and those of her close friends, Molly whose house she is staying in and Andrew whom she met while at college ...more
Debbie Robson
Dec 19, 2013 rated it it was amazing
This book is set in Dublin, midsummer and the unnamed narrator, a playwright, reflects upon her own life, Molly's and that of their mutual friend Andrew. As the back cover says: "Exploring family, friendship and love, Molly Fox's Birthday is above all a novel about identity, calling into question the ideas that we hold about who we are and showing how the past informs the present in ways we night never have imagined."

Sometimes I don't analyse why I'm drawn to a book - at least in the moments
Nov 08, 2009 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Wonderfully written, I just didn't care that much, about Molly, the narrator or their oddly not gay friend Andrew.
Nathalie (keepreadingbooks)
Given the title, it’s easy to think that Molly Fox is the central ‘subject’, if I may, of this book. But (in my humble opinion) she’s used more as a framework than anything else; a framework for themes of family, friendship, identity and love – the good *and* the bad sides of each. Molly Fox’ house and birthday set off a string of memories that in many ways are related to the narrator’s relationship to her, but Molly isn’t really the point. Andrew is the point.

Andrew is the narrator’s oldest
Elizabeth Urello
May 09, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: novels
This short novel deals with a surprising number of themes (art, theater, religion, The Troubles, the nature of the self), but to me, it is most interestingly about intimacy, friendship and communication, and about how sometimes a certain distance is essential to a more meaningful and lasting closeness between people.

The story’s narrator is a renowned playwright who has temporarily house-swapped with her good friend, Molly Fox, a famous stage actor. Molly lives in Dublin and the narrator is
Jul 07, 2019 rated it really liked it
In the arc of the summer solstice Madden creates a story of three very disparate characters whose lives intersect in the background of a divided Ireland. The house in which the story is set is outwardly beautiful but redolent with memory and mystery. Maddens prose is seductive and sparse at the same time. I do enjoy Irish authors and she is a favourite
Aug 06, 2010 rated it liked it
"Molly Fox’s Birthday"
It’s been said that writers should write about the kind of people they actually know. It appears that Deirde Madden started to follow that advice in “Molly Fox’s Birthday”. Madden is a successful Irish novelist(this is her eighth novel), and she decided to write about three successful Irish intellectuals: a playwright (the unnamed narrator), an eminent art critic turned television celebrity (Andrew Foote), and a charismatic stage actress (Molly Fox). Then, the
Apr 22, 2010 rated it did not like it
I won this book from the giveaways on this site. Being this was my first win, I was highly excited, especially due to the interesting book description! I started reading it today and much to my surprise I was very much disappointed! I honestly don't feel that I was able to live the book ever, as I do with every book! I try to put myself in the characters position but I had a very hard time doing this with this book. Not only was the story dull and uneventful it honestly didn't have an ...more
Karin Slaughter
Jan 31, 2015 rated it really liked it
Fun read. Reminded me of Liane Moriarty.
Oct 31, 2008 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Anna by: Deborah Friedell
A sweet, meditation on the life of the artist -- any playwright or actor, in particular, would enjoy this immensely.
Mar 29, 2018 rated it really liked it
Browsing the shelves of my library I came across an author that had been recommended to me.
Deirdre Madden's short listed Orange prize for fiction from 2009, titled Molly Fox's Birthday delves into the personal lives of three friends, all in retrospect up to the moment. The story unveils itself in a steady, rhythmic manner and pulls you into the middle of each scene in such quiet undertones that once in you can't look away. I really liked all the characters, each individual and all together.
Oct 12, 2018 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2018, orange-prize
I liked the book. I can completely see why some people might not. For one, the whole book was about a 1 day and a non-exciting one at that.

The book is the story of 3 people, friends. Molly Fox, the playwright and Andrew. What made the book very banal was how they complicated their relationship with self and each other, for no reason. It just seemed a lot of drama rather than briskness. This, if had been set some 50 years ago, I might have bought the extra politeness in the relationship. But for
Carolyn Daniels
May 14, 2018 rated it liked it
I always give a book the 40 page test. If I'm not raring to continue I reject, as there is a world of books out there waiting to be read. This book didn't grab me by page 40, but I was intrigued enough to read on and caught by page 50. There were some beautiful/memorable paragraphs, eg towards the end of the book, the scene in Molly Fox's garden.
It was largely a, tell, not, show, book, but it proved that this style can work.
I can't give it more than 3 stars as there were some grammatical errors
Denise Kruse
Oct 27, 2018 rated it liked it
Gorgeous writing and I enjoyed much of the story. A peeve of mine is when people say as they confide, “Please don’t tell anyone” or “You must not tell so-and-so” as happens so much with these friends and family members. So, this is a beautiful tale looking back at lengthy relationships where no one seems entirely comfortable with the other. If the ending is meant to be symbolic, I am a dunce. Will I read more of this author? Yes.
Lauren F.
Jan 08, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction, irish
This was that rare novel that was intelligent, insightful, and moving while also being a page-turner. It really made me think about the nature of relationships, how and why we connect, and how well we really know ourselves and each other. Heady topics for sure, but I couldn't put this book down. And somehow Deirdre Madden is able to tell this sweeping story about three friends—and their very different families—in the span of a single day in Dublin.
Oct 01, 2019 rated it really liked it
An enjoyable read. I found the character building quite good. There isn't exactly a consistent plot, as the main character reflects on memories and relationships while occasionally jumping back to reality (which I didn't mind, it's a refreshing style). If you're into theatre - there are lots of references to this art and specific plays too.
Paula Dembeck
Mar 23, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is a wonderful short novel and my initiation to Madden’s writing.

The unnamed narrator is staying at her friend’s house, struggling to get past writer’s block and begin her new play. She has an idea into the story, but cannot develop the hook that will let the story unfold before her. After a string of very successful plays, her last one was a disappointment or to be less generous, a complete flop, and she is decidedly wary as she begins this one. Molly Fox, her friend for over twenty years
Jun 11, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Everything here happens “off-stage,’ that is, people tell one another stories....
Failures, death, wounds... all here. Nothing really happens and yet somehow everything does. This is a very warm book, filled with bright, round characters.
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Deirdre Madden is from Toomebridge, County Antrim in Northern Ireland. She was educated at Trinity College, Dublin and at the University of East Anglia. In 1994 she was Writer-in-Residence at University College, Cork and in 1997 was Writer Fellow at Trinity College, Dublin. She has travelled widely in Europe and has spent extended periods of time in both France and Italy.
“I realize that a certain school of thought
says that who we are is something we construct for ourselves. We build ourselves out of what we think we remember, what we believe to be true about our life; and the possessions we gather around us are supposedly a part of this, that we are, to some extent what we own.”
“I had been here during heavy rain, the kind of rain that becomes pleasurable to watch because it makes of the house a haven. The rooms in which one moves become a world apart from the wet streets, the sodden garden.” 6 likes
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