Friday, 9 May 2014

The Blue Fox

Finished May 9
The Blue Fox by Sjon, translated by Victoria Cribb

This short novel is set in 1883 in rural Iceland. It gives a sense of the place and time, but also has the feel of a fable.
Fridrik B Fridjónsson studied natural history at the University of Copenhagen, travelling to Iceland in 1868 to sell his parents' farm and other belongings after their deaths and return to Denmark. But an encounter with a young woman causes him to stay at the farm and make his life there.
In 1883, he lives at the farm with his servant, Hafdís Jónsdóttir (Abba), and upon her death, he pays the local pastor, Reverend Baldur Skuggason, to give her a funeral and burial. Skuggason's servant, Hálfdán Atlason, comes to convey the body in its coffin back to the church from the farm.
Both servants had Down's syndrome and few children with the syndrome at the time in Iceland survived to adulthood. Many treated them as less than human. Fridrik was not one of those people, and he and Abba lived together happily, learning things from each other and being happy.
Following the funeral, Reverend Skuggason, went hunting after a fox that he heard was in the area, and we see this part of the story from an omniscient observer point of view.
The writing is engaging and lyrical, drawing the reader in. This is a story to read slowly, savouring each sentence and thinking about the meaning behind the words. I loved it.

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