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.

Hot Milk by Deborah Levy

“My love for my mother is like an axe. It cuts very deep.” Set on the Andalusian coast, where 25-year-old Sofia has accompanied her mother in an attempt to get … Continue reading

October 26, 2016 · 1 Comment

The Bees by Laline Paull

I’ll be honest, I had no idea how this book was going to work. It’s a novel about a bee. Set in a beehive. All the characters are bees (plus … Continue reading

January 15, 2016 · 4 Comments

How To Be Both by Ali Smith

I have been a big fan of Ali Smith’s work for a number of years, having discovered her when I picked up her 1999 short story collection Other Stories and Other … Continue reading

November 26, 2014 · 4 Comments

Half of a Yellow Sun by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

My contribution to Vulpes Libris’ birthday celebration week focuses on a novel that was actually published at the end of 2006, but which won the Orange Prize (as it was … Continue reading

October 24, 2014 · 1 Comment

The Photograph by Penelope Lively

One day, Glyn is rooting around in a cupboard full of old paperwork, looking for an academic paper he needs for his work. A stack falls out and as he … Continue reading

October 13, 2014 · 2 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

Pure by Andrew Miller: a lyrical novel about a rather dull subject

Deep in the heart of Paris, its oldest cemetery is, by 1785, overflowing, tainting the very breath of those who live nearby. Into their midst comes Jean-Baptiste Baratte, a young, … Continue reading

November 22, 2012 · 8 Comments

If I Loved You, I Would Tell You This by Robin Black: a literary and rather grim collection

From the blind girl who sees more than her parents can, to the portrait artist who sees more than her clients might wish, Robin Black illuminates secret fears, hidden desires, … Continue reading

October 25, 2012 · 5 Comments

A Mile of River by Judith Allnatt – the long hot summer of 1976 revisited

It is 1976 and England is suffocating. The long, dry spring has given way to a summer of severe drought, with standpipes in the streets and a rallying cry to … Continue reading

September 20, 2012 · 16 Comments

Reptiles and body parts

A serendipitous and scaly read of Ned Beauman’s The Teleportation Accident, and Terry Richard Bazes’ Lizard World So, I read these novels one after the other on holiday, and finished … Continue reading

September 18, 2012 · 8 Comments

The Song of Achilles by Madeline Miller – a stonkingly good novel and a worthy prizewinner

Greece in the age of heroes. Patroclus, an awkward young prince, has been exiled to the court of King Peleus and his perfect son Achilles. Despite their differences, Achilles befriends … Continue reading

August 30, 2012 · 16 Comments

Island of Wings by Karin Altenberg – a novel which tries hard but doesn’t quite manage to fly

It’s 1830. Neil and Lizzie MacKenzie, a newly married young couple, arrive at the remotest part of the British Isles: St Kilda. He is a minister determined to save the … Continue reading

June 28, 2012 · 13 Comments

History of a Pleasure Seeker by Richard Mason – all the pleasures of one-upmanship and all the fun of the fair

It is 1907. The Belle Epoque is in full swing. Piet Barol has escaped the drabness of the provinces for the grandest mansion in Amsterdam. As tutor to the son … Continue reading

June 7, 2012 · 4 Comments

The Lives of Ghosts by Megan Taylor: surrendering to the poetry of the dark

After her parents are killed in a car accident, twelve-year-old Liberty Fuller is left in the care of her young pregnant stepmother, Marie. Bewildered and grief stricken, Marie and Liberty … Continue reading

May 3, 2012 · 5 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.)