This post is part of a blog tour organised by Random Things Blog Tours. I received a free copy of the book in return for an honest review.
“When passion becomes obsession, anything can happen…
“Chic, intelligent, highly motivated and unexpectedly unemployed. AND soon to be forty. Not a situation Katie Tremain finds easy to cope with, especially as it gives her time to notice that she and husband Ben seem to get on better together when they’re apart. So when the opportunity to escape the city and work on a dilapidated house on Exmoor comes her way, how can she refuse?
“Then, one misty morning, she comes across something so bizarre that she can’t believe her eyes. A fox with fur so white it sparkles, like snow. A very rare albino vixen.
“From that moment Katie’s days – and her life – change completely. And as the fate of her faltering marriage becomes entwined with that of the fox, Katie must decide just what she’s prepared to risk to save this beautiful but vulnerable creature.
“Her sanity? Her marriage? Even her life?”
In The Snow Fox Diaries, Jan Mazzoni describes life on Exmoor in pin-sharp detail. Her choices of words and similes really get across the harsh beauty of this relatively untouched corner of the world, where there’s plenty of space for animals to make their homes but their survival is threatened by inhospitable winters and the actions of humans.
Through main character Katie, we learn first-hand how cruel the countryside can be. We share in her shock as she learns how farmers and hunters have virtually destroyed the local rabbit population, view foxes as vermin, and see roadkill not as a tragedy, but a fact of life and an opportunity to make a bit of money from quality meat. While there are many parts of the book where Katie is happily pottering around working on the house, exploring the area, and making new friends, there are some shocking events and revelations that knock this cosy narrative sideways.
Katie really grows as a character over the course of the story. When we first meet her, she’s despondent after unexpectedly losing her job as an estate agent after her boss goes bankrupt. She’s not sure where her life is going, and her marriage to Ben has gone tepid. It’s a real joy to watch her rediscover the countryside she loved as a child, learn to be alone, re-evaluate what’s important to her, and find a passion for foxes she never knew she had. As is always the way, while she’s going through these changes, she still feels lost and confused - it’s only at the end that she realises how far she’s come.
The author conveys the albino vixen’s beauty, vulnerability and meaning for Katie very successfully through description, entries from Katie’s diary, and the attention the creature’s existence receives from a number of parties. These are both good (people who want to protect the rare fox by moving her to a nature reserve or wildlife park) and bad (people who want to own or sell a very valuable piece of taxidermy). The lengths Katie goes to in order to keep this animal safe warmed my heart, and with her, I railed against the other characters who didn’t understand why she cared so much.
The Snow Fox Diaries perfectly captures the beauty and cruelty of nature and the countryside.