Helen Oyeyemi, Mr. Fox. Riverhead Hardcover. 2011. 336 pages. $25.95. ISBN: 978-1594488078
Everyone knows what a love story is. Helen Oyeyemi, however, takes what everyone knows and shapes it into something different in her novel, Mr. Fox. Mr. Fox, an American novelist, is confronted with his imaginary muse, Mary Foxe, when she steps out of his head and into the real world. Together they take on their own stories, creating nine variations. Helen does a magnificent job exploring the depths of the human mind and the feelings that arise when one is accepting a fate they did not deem possible.
Anyone can argue that this is just another cliché love story, and in fact, when I first opened the book, I believed the same. Yet the second you start reading, actually reading, you will be sucked into this wondrous world alongside both Mary and Mr. Fox. Whether you are standing alongside Mary at a florist shop or watch as Reynardine chooses and kills his victims, you will not be able to put this book down. Oyeyemi does an amazing job portraying the feelings and thoughts that humans face on a daily basis.
Following both Mr. Fox and Mary proves to be quite a challenge at some points, due in part to the nine variations of their stories. Some of them might be more appealing than others, but nonetheless all should be read and thoroughly enjoyed. Each of them contributes to the growth of both characters. Though it may seem that “What Happens Next” is more enjoyable than the story about the little boys who go to a school to become “world class husbands,” they are both essential to the plot and to the emotional growth of the characters.
Helen Oyeyemi provides the readers with an excellent love story and the obstacles faced when two people from opposite sides of the tracks, in the most literal sense, come together. Follow Mr. Fox as Mary challenges the way he thinks and writes. Look into the mind of Mr. Fox as he realizes that the love he has for his wife is more than he had ever imagined. Engage in the love triangle between a husband, a wife and an imaginary woman. Let the emotions wash over you as Mr. Fox and Mary discover their newfound emotions, and watch in awe as the entire story plays out right in front of your eyes.