I’m taking my turn today on the blog tour for Foxes Unearthed by Lucy Jones, published by Elliott & Thompson, available in hardcover and kindle editions, and published in paperback on 16th March. I’m usually a fiction reader, and that won’t be changing any time soon – and I do apologise that (so far) I’ve barely got beyond the gorgeous cover of this one, and this post will be little more than an introduction. But I am incredibly impressed by the thoroughly lovely books that Elliott & Thompson are bringing to the marketplace, absolute treats for anyone with a love for the natural world combined with the strongest of writing.
Let’s take a closer look at this one:
As one of the largest predators left in Britain, the fox is captivating: a comfortably familiar figure in our country landscapes; an intriguing flash of bright-eyed wildness in our towns.
Yet no other animal attracts such controversy, has provoked more column inches or been so ambiguously woven into our culture over centuries, perceived variously as a beautiful animal, a cunning rogue, a vicious pest and a worthy foe. As well as being the most ubiquitous of wild animals, it is also the least understood.
In Foxes Unearthed Lucy Jones investigates the truth about foxes in a media landscape that often carries complex agendas. Delving into fact, fiction, folklore and her own family history, Lucy travels the length of Britain to find out first-hand why these animals incite such passionate emotions, revealing our rich and complex relationship with one of our most loved – and most vilified – wild animals. This compelling narrative adds much-needed depth to the debate on foxes, asking what our attitudes towards the red fox say about us – and, ultimately, about our relationship with the natural world.
Did you know Roald Dahl was the first writer to make a hero out of his fox? Or that there are more places named after the fox than any other animal in Britain? I’ve dipped liberally into this book, and was enchanted by Lucy Jones’ writing style, her observations and opinions, and the wealth of detail – literature, folklore, fact, social history, superstition – she brings to a book that could feasibly be described as “easy reading”.
This debut was chosen by The Times as a Christmas Book, the i-newspaper as a Holiday Read, Country Life as Book of the Week and by Emerald Street for its Nature Reading Room. Lucy has established herself as a wildlife writer with pieces on foxes in The Telegraph, Spectator, Guardian, GQ.com, Newsweek and Time Out.
As I haven’t read enough to produce a review of my own, I hope you’ll forgive me if I reproduce the views of others:
I loved the readability of the book, combining fact with fiction, folklore and magic with cold hard facts, but always, what shines through is the author’s commitment to telling it like it is, with no superfluous waffle , not overly fanciful , just a really interesting look at the role foxes have in our rural and urban environments. The detail is good, the author’s opinions are clearly expressed and throughout the book are intelligent observations from specialist contributors which help to give the book an overall balanced view.
Along with being a well balanced, and well researched book, it’s also a pleasure to read. I sometimes struggle to get through even the most well written non fiction (unless I can read it in a single sitting) but this one’s a page turner as well as being a timely examination of one of our more iconic animals
It is in the chapters dealing with the hunters and the saboteurs that Jones really finds her stride, her impartial approach getting under the skin of one of the ‘big issues’ of the modern age. Through spending time with those who would lay down their lives for a fox and those who range from appearing non-plussed to hell-bent on bloody extermination, Jones brilliantly (and often bravely) captures two uniquely British subcultures.
I found that this was a book I read at my leisure, relishing the fact that I could dip in and out of this between other books and become immersed in details of fact and fable, learn details about fox hunting and hunt saboteurs that I had little knowledge about. Such was the interest that I had in this book, I regularly paused reading to discuss points with my husband… An absolutely fascinating read and one that has changed my perception of foxes…
Do take a look at the excellent interview with Lucy Jones on Linda’s Book Bag too.
With thanks to Elliott and Thompson, I’m delighted to offer one lucky reader (UK only) the chance to win a paperback copy of Foxes Unearthed. Here’s the rafflecopter for entry:
(The winner will be announced on Twitter and contacted by email, and a reply will be needed within three days. If not, the prize will be forfeited and a new winner drawn.)
And I’d now like to extend my brief a little, while mentioning Elliott & Thompson and their beautiful books, and draw attention to the latest in their anthologies for the changing seasons. Winter was published in October 2016, with its glorious cover following the same theme as the excellent Autumn which I reviewed here on Being Anne back in September. I’d highly recommend this beautiful series, edited by Melissa Harrison, to everyone – again, particularly to those with a love of the natural world, but also to those who might just enjoy an eclectic mix of writing, prose and poetry, on a single theme (and so much more than “snow”).
Dipping into Winter, I loved the juxtaposition of a Coleridge sonnet with the wonderful descriptive writing of Annie Worsley, an extract from Bleak House followed by another from the 1783 Naturalist’s Journal, Kate Blincoe’s stunning piece on observing a murmuration of starlings, perfectly chosen poems like Thomas Hardy’s The Darkling Thrush and a wonderfully atmospheric piece from Nakul Krishna. You’ll find your own favourites – and a book from this series would make a quite perfect gift.
My thanks to Alison Menzies for inviting me to join this tour and sorting out the giveaway – and for sending me copies of these lovely books.