Vulpes Libris

A collective of bibliophiles talking about books. Book Fox (vulpes libris): small bibliovorous mammal of overactive imagination and uncommonly large bookshop expenses. Habitat: anywhere the rustle of pages can be heard.

Beyond the German Garden

At last the world has a decent scholarly study of (some of) the novels of Elizabeth von Arnim. She has legions of fans, but no biography remains in print, and … Continue reading

July 10, 2013 · 7 Comments

May We Be Forgiven

May We Be Forgiven, A. M. Homes’s Women’s Prize for Fiction-winning sixth novel, opens with a horrific car crash, an affair, a murder, and a divorce. I won’t lie: by … Continue reading

July 5, 2013 · 9 Comments

Beside the Sea by Véronique Olmi (Translated by Adriana Hunter)

‘I like songs. They say things I can’t seem to say. If I didn’t have these rotten teeth I’d sing a lot more, a lot more often, I’d sing my … Continue reading

June 5, 2013 · 6 Comments

The Perfect Suicide by Lotte Worth

‘I loved him, missed him and hated him. Every day. Although it did me no good…’ . Following a family tragedy, Emma escapes to university in search of a new … Continue reading

May 30, 2013 · 6 Comments

The Polish Boxer by Eduardo Halfon

There is a passage in The Polish Boxer in which the narrator, a Guatemalan literature professor and writer named Eduardo Halfon, tells a musician he has just met about his … Continue reading

May 29, 2013 · 1 Comment

Evolving Arthuriana

One of the earliest appearances of King Arthur in written English was in a work by a monk called Gildas, who died in 572. Arthur is also mentioned in the … Continue reading

May 22, 2013 · 5 Comments

The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald

When people talk about the Great American Novel, this is it, this is what they mean. It’s a masterpiece and like all masterpieces, it has timeless appeal. I have read … Continue reading

May 10, 2013 · 7 Comments

Singapore high-rise

Lee Jing-Jing’s novel If I Could Tell You is haunting, affectionate, honest, and placidly down-to-earth. I couldn’t put it down: her writing is beautifully subtle, and the story winds you … Continue reading

May 1, 2013 · 6 Comments

Henry James: The Aspern Papers

To round off the Mystery Week, we have a different sort of mystery, where people die but nobody’s murdered, and the only crime is overzealous curiosity. Do the dead have … Continue reading

April 26, 2013 · 5 Comments

Edith Wharton: The Touchstone

What do petulant teenagers, unrequited lovers, and aspiring writers have in common? Yes, periods of self-pity – that goes without saying. But what I have in mind is a very … Continue reading

April 16, 2013 · 3 Comments

So French

Les Belles Amours by Marie Louse Lévêque de Vilmorin was dedicated to Orson Welles, with whom the author had a long affair. She was also engaged briefly to Antoine de … Continue reading

January 15, 2013 · 4 Comments

A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens

Revisiting a VL Classic, originally posted in December 2007 I am always startled by how short this book is. A cultural icon ought to be the size of Michaelangelo’s David … Continue reading

December 17, 2012 · 5 Comments

Where are the women in Tolkien? (Part 1)

In which Kate discourses on the mystery of why there are so few women in Tolkien’s Middle-Earth. Part 1 At the age of 13 I carefully wrote myself into The … Continue reading

December 11, 2012 · 9 Comments

Interesting books – in brief

This is going to be one of those “due to unforeseen circumstances”/”leaves on the line” posts. Wintry illness has occurred. Namely: flu. First in my child, now in me. Which … Continue reading

December 6, 2012 · 6 Comments



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  • (The header image is from Aesop's Fables, illustrated by Francis Barlow (1666), and appears courtesy of the Digital and Multimedia Center at the Michigan State University Libraries.)
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