Faber Short Story Review – Mrs Fox by Sarah Hall

“She is standing on the kitchen table, an unmistakable silhouette, cut from the wild” (Hall, 2019, pg.17). Hall’s prize-winning, magical realist short story Mrs Fox (2013) is based on the short novel by David Garnett Lady into Fox (1922), published just seven years after Kafka’s famous story of human-to-animal transformation, Metamorphosis.  Like the texts of a century earlier, Hall’s story is set within the mundane domestic realm and raises many questions about the status of our humanness, our humanity, and our animality.  However, it offers an update insofar as it also raises pertinent questions about our relationship with the natural realm, and our position as animals within a global ecosystem undergoing rapid alteration.  These themes permeate the work of Sarah Hall (b.1974, Cumbria) who has written five novels and two collections of short stories. Mrs Fox is an excellent avenue into Hall’s work as the 36-page story represents not only her skill and writerly tone but also her recurrent themes: nature and our place within it, the wildness within, and the experience of living in a female body (in this case, one which is not even human). Following on from reading Mrs Fox, you might consider reading one of Hall’s short story collections, or one of her novels: in particular, the eco-dystopian The Carhullan Army (2007) or her historical debut novel, Haweswater (2002), are highly recommended. 

Dr. Melanie Ebdon.