Sunday, 2 February 2014

Never Mind Miss Fox by Olivia Glazebrook | Oh the secrets you shall keep!

This is a semi-dark novel that'll keep you glued to the pages throughout. Evoking the children's classic Fantastic Mr Fox, this novel is not exactly child friendly, but the reference creates almost a juxtaposition in the fact that a child's life could be irrevocably changed through Miss Fox' entrance in their lives.

Clive is in his thirties and is happily married to Martha who he's been with since his late teens. His life turns upside down when his only daughter Eliza comes home one day to tell her parents that her new piano teacher is one Eliot Fox that Clive's younger brother Tom was in love with at fifteen. While Martha is delighted at the idea of seeing Miss Fox again, Clive is petrified. Will she tell?

The story jumps between the present story as Eliza becomes more and more enthralled with her piano teacher, much to her father's dismay, and the story of Clive and Martha's encounter with Eliot Fox when they were all teens. Clive was an awkward guy who never felt comfortable until Martha came into his life. The flashback scenes are written from Clive's perspective, and it's unusual to read someone's perspective and not fully sympathize with them. There's something just a bit off about Clive, and even his brother Tom tells his so. Tom for his part is in love for the first time, but Eliot sees him only as a friend. There's something about Tom and Eliot's easy companionship that is getting to the young Clive, and despite having Martha, Clive watches them with a sort of envy. He does come across as quite the weirdo.

After a holiday spent together in France, Clive is filled with pent up feelings he cannot name or justify. When Martha's ex-boyfriend Dennis runs into Clive and Eliot, he's enraged to observe Eliot's response to Dennis. His jealousy leads Clive down a dark road that will haunt him until his daughter comes home to tell him about Miss Fox. Clive's nightmares are now his reality.

As for Eliot, we are never sure of her intentions. As a teenage carefree girl, she shamelessly admits to ambitions of marrying for money. We learn that she's spent years in America, and her return as a piano teacher suggests that her strategy might have failed. We're not sure if her friendship with Eliza has an ulterior motive.

As Eliot manifests herself more and more in Eliza's life, Clive becomes increasingly desperate to erase her from their lives. A confrontation is inevitable, but at what cost?

This is a story about secrets, betrayal, and of being insecure and estranged. It's a story about relationship between parent and child, about family, and about how fragile the connection really is. Never Mind Miss Fox raises a lot of questions, but the answers are not clear. It'll get you thinking about your own secrets, your own family, and the things that are in place to keep it all together. Easily read in one sitting, but then mulled over for a long time.

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