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Faith Fox is a sparkling novel of comedy and conversation, birth and death, and the differences between England’s well-born and plain people from a two-time winner of the Whitbread Prize and Booker Prize finalist. This comedy of manners set in early ’90s Britain centers around newborn Faith Fox, the daughter of the sweet, healthy, and hearty pearl of her Surrey village, Holly Fox, who inexplicably dies in childbirth. Faith’s beanpole father can’t and won’t look after her. Holly’s mother—a matron from Surrey’s gin-and-tonic belt who is ostensibly full of good nature, good sense, and sociability—refuses to acknowledge the baby whose birth killed the daughter she loved. And so an extraordinary group of family, friends, and strangers converge to make sure that Faith Fox ends up raised well in the right hands. The concerned parties include an ascetic priest of an uncle in Northern England who runs a commune with his unfaithful ex-hippie wife and her precocious, lonely son; the Tibetan refugees staying there; and the splendidly bickering and ancient paternal grandparents. As Faith’s future unravels amidst the shifting scenes of high society and low, the old and the young, Jane Gardam explores the English heart in all its eccentric variety.
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Jane Gardam's novels include, The Flight of the Maidens, a New York Times Notable Book. She won the prestigious Whitbread Award for The Hollow Land and The Queen of the Tambourine, while God on the Rocks was shortlisted for the Booker Prize. Old Filth, was a finalist for the Orange Prize, The Man in the Wooden Hat was a finalist for the Los Angeles Times Book Prize, and Last Friends, was a finalist for the Folio Award. She lives in England near the sea.From Publishers Weekly:
A motherless baby named Faith is the linchpin of this delightfully eccentric comedy of manners and miracles by Gardam, a two-time winner of the Whitbread Prize (The Hollow Land; The Queen of the Tambourine). First published in Great Britain in 1996 and set in the early 1990s in the moody Yorkshire moors and the gentrified climes of Surrey and London, the novel features a highly entertaining cast of dotty characters whose class, ethnic and religious differences are wonderfully deconstructed by Gardam's sharp, dark wit. Jolly Holly Fox ("an extraordinarily nice girl") is the last person her devoted mother, the widowed and wealthy Thomasina, expects to die in childbirth. Unable to even look at the surviving baby, she runs away with a retired general. Andrew Braithwaite, Holly's physician husband, is equally unable to cope ("he disliked children altogether, really") and gives Faith to his brother, Jack, a devout but nontraditional Christian minister and Jack's Indian, ex-hippie wife, Jocasta, who live at a Yorkshire commune headed by Jack. Assorted relatives and friends wring their hands over Faith's fate, including her anxious paternal grandparents, the affable Toots and Dolly; ancient Pema, one of the mysterious Tibetan exiles staying at Jack's commune; Nick and Ernie, two ex-burglars working for Jack; and Jocasta's 11-year-old Indian son, Philip, whose loyalty to little Faith never wavers. Gardam's voice is dead-on as she crafts a tale with a lovely surprise ending that reaffirms the importance of faith, making this a royal treat for the holidays.
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