Molly Fox’s Birthday by Deirdre Madden (Book Review)
Molly Fox’s Birthday is written by Deirdre Madden. It is her 7th book and has been shortlisted for the Orange Prize 2009 for women writers. It is a slim book at 240 pages and is published by Faber and Faber. There are a number of undercurrent themes in the novel: friendship, theatre and identity with also a background in the troubles. The narrator who is never identified is staying in Molly Fox’s home while she is away working in New York. The female playwright is struggling to find a new beginning into a new play. This day is June 21st Molly’s the great actress’s birthday, the longest day of the year. The unidentified narrator reflects how on stage an actor knows everything about their character while we never really know everything about our friends. There is always a little everybody keeps private to themselves. As adults our closest friends are like family to us. We choose their companionship and accept their imperfections . The narrator is engrossed in Molly’s belongings and everything is analyzed through the absent Molly’s eyes. The narrator questions are we what we own and this is rejected as superficial. She thinks of herself and Molly and their best friend Andrew an art historian and TV presenter. Andrew visits the house to find Molly absent but makes do with a friendly chat with the narrator. Andrew had ambition and although from a working class home in Belfast he went on to get a PhD from Cambridge and made his dreams come through. Their families and upbringings are discussed and it is shown how their past forms part of their lives and thus present. A central part of the book is identity, how is it expresses and identified? How does success define these 3 people? Molly’s house is an expression of her personae and the set of the unwritten play. The characters are too discrete for me. Deirdre Madden is a high brow academic from Trinity and so it came as no surprise to me the book was insightful, thought provoking and well written. Reviewed by Annette Dunlea author of Always and Forever and The Honey Trap.
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