I received this book free from Library Thing in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.Never Mind Miss Fox: A Novel on August 19th 2014
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A darkly suspenseful novel about a piano teacher, a secret, and a family on the brink of disaster.
Clive and Martha have been a couple since they met at university; they now have a young daughter, Eliza, and on the surface, all seems well in their family. Then a woman from their past reappears in their lives: the enigmatic Eliot Fox is Eliza's new piano teacher and young Eliza is charmed. But Eliot Fox knows that Clive has a secret--a secret that he is desperate to ensure Martha never finds out, and that could destroy his perfect family.
With shades of Joanna Briscoe, Poppy Adams, and Patricia Highsmith, in prose that is as elegant and vivid as it is surprising, Olivia Glazebrook demonstrates how apparently ordinary lives can contain--or fail to contain--extraordinary acts of destruction.
‘She was a climbing weed that twisted round them, rootless and threading, a clinging twine. She would attach herself to anyone.’
Clive and Martha fell in love during their last year at Oxford. Both became successful, they got married and they had a child named Eliza. Unbeknownst to Martha, a dark secret mars their seemingly perfect life that has surfaced and threatens everything. Never Mind Miss Fox is not only a cautionary tale about keeping secrets and how they will only sit and fester but how past actions will always affect your future no matter how well you keep them hidden.
Never Mind Miss Fox is full of an unlikeable cast of characters with Clive and Martha the most flawed of the bunch. If Clive’s odd personality won’t repel you, his past actions certainly will. Martha is introduced with emphasis on her resentment towards her daughter and the relationship she has with Clive. Neither have any positive characteristics to show for them. As time elapses, we see the changes and the continued weakening of their relationship which leads up to the reintroduction of Eliot Fox, an old friend of theirs from when they were young. She is Eliza’s new piano teacher and she quickly becomes infatuated with her yet when Pandora’s box is finally opened, everything is thrown asunder. While not the most positive examination of a family, it was still a believable portrayal.
‘How, he wondered, could something so familiar to his mind be so impossible to communicate? It was unspeakable; unsayable. Whatever words he used the meaning would not translate. He would be unintelligible. He was not equipped with the skills or the tools that he needed.’
The secret itself was easy to surmise and I kept hoping for an unexpected twist. The secret became less a part of the story and instead, it became more about the after effects and the trouble it caused even after so much time had elapsed. It showed the effects on their daughter, seemingly innocent in all the drama, yet irrevocably impacted. It also showed not necessarily forgiveness but acceptance of the betrayal, and it even had an intriguing albeit unnecessary metaphor involving bats in the attic and whether they should have been disturbed at all. (Clearly, pointing out the fact that that secret had always been a part of their lives, was it truly necessary for it to be made known?) Never Mind Miss Fox didn’t possess a strong resolution but situations such as those are ones you never quite get over; they remain with you always. The strong writing makes this well-worth the read and the story will make for interesting conversation.