Sunday, November 28, 2010
Title: Molly Fox's Birthday
Author: Deidre Madden
Published: 2008, Faber and Faber
Genre: Contemporary Fiction
Accolades: 2009 Orange Prize Finalist
It is June 21st and Molly Fox the acclaimed stage actress has lent her home to a close friend while she is in New York City. Her friend, a play write who is struggling with writing her next play, is distracted and starts thinking about her friendship with Molly as she wanders around Molly's house noting items that are dear to Molly and begins to wonder if she really knows who Molly is and if anyone really understands the heart and motives of another.
I am going to state up front that this is one of the best books that I read this year. At first appearances this book seems to be a slight and effortless read. It takes place in one day and moves seamlessly from morning to night as Madden reveals the layers and depths of her characters through their relationship with the play write. Her writing is creative and thoughtful as we discover who the characters are:
"Fergus was a dangerous man, with his tenderness and his charm and the deep and unending darkness of his mind that was an abyss into which Molly might vanish one day if she wasn't strong enough." (page 149, Molly Fox's Birthday)
and just when the reader and the play write have formed their opinion about a character - in this instance Fergus- we are given another layer and discover that we really didn't know who he was at all.
"Fergus was a man of wisdom and acute moral knowledge. He had had the courage and insight to inspect his own life more closely than most dare to do, and he had compassion and forgiveness for those who had hurt him." (page 155, Molly Fox's Birthday)
The questions that this book challenges are interesting ones: how well do you really know those who you think are the closest to you? and what happens when they do something so out-of-the-ordinary that they seem like strangers? and will that change you? This book leaves the reader thinking about the characters and pondering their own realtionships - fabulous.
My Rating: 5 out of 5
Note: I read the U.S. 2010 Picador edition