It was late afternoon towards the end of February. I was on the train travelling from Leeds to Manchester, my nose buried in Lucy Jones’ Foxes Unearthed. In a brief moment of thought I looked up from my book and gazed out of the window. Lo and behold, a fox was casually strolling along a hedgerow in a cattle field next to the train tracks. I couldn’t help but smile when I saw the fox, both for the amazing coincidence of it being the very subject of the book I was reading and also my usual awe at seeing such a beautiful animal. I continued to smile even when the bushy end of the foxes tail disappeared behind a nearby group of shrubs. Since I was a child spotting a fox always gave me a jolt of excitement, their beautiful striking colour mixed with their rather elusive nature still to this day gives me a sense of wonderment. Sadly, my enthusiasm for the fox is not shared by everyone and the general public opinion of foxes has always remained somewhat complicated. This is something that is explored in great detail in Lucy Jones’ enchanting book Foxes UnEarthed: A Story Of Love And Loathing In Modern Britain.
The fox is undoubtedly one of Britain’s most misunderstood animals but it is also an animal that has become embedded into British culture far beyond the extent to which most of us realise. In this book, Jones explores character changes of the fox in European literature from the mischievous and plotting Reynard dominating folktales from the middle ages to the delightful hero of Roald Dahl’s Fantastic Mr Fox. She talks in detail about how the fox has mostly been perceived as a negative character in biblical tales and in a range of media right up until modern day. She gives examples of the many towns and villages across the UK that have been named after the fox and I think a lot of people have enjoyed refreshment at a pub named the Fox and Hounds. She talks about how fox fur was used to line the clothes of the wealthy in the middle ages and body parts used for medicine. There is also mention of the Vermin Act introduced by Henry VIII that classed the fox as a pest which, overtime, built up to the popular sport of fox hunting which was perceived by many as a noble pastime throughout the 19th and 20th centuries and still causes much debate up until this day.
Being someone who always loved foxes I could never understand why people could ever dislike the fox. This books honest assessment addresses people on both sides of the debate and gave me more of an understanding of why they are not in favour in some areas. She also highlights through her research which parts of this dislike is completely misplaced due to bad press from the media and certain farmers. So whether you love, loath or aren’t really sure where you stand when it comes to the fox I can definitely recommend this book to people on all sides of the debate.
Putting these debates aside Jones talks in detail about the wonders of the fox as just an animal trying to survive in the wilderness. I previously thought myself quite knowledgeable about the biology of Vulpes vulpes but I was still amazed by some of the information shared in this book. One thing is for sure, the author has clearly worked hard to do her research to share how the fox is an animal that should be admired and respected for its incredible adaptability as well as its behavioural and physiological capabilities.
This book for me was very thought-provoking and well researched with facts that will surprise and excite even some of the most knowledgeable fox enthusiasts. So if you think you know everything there is to know about the red fox before picking up a copy, I suggest you read this book and then ask yourself the same question.
Foxes Unearthed: A Story Of Love And Loathing In Modern Britain by Lucy Jones published by Elliott & Thompson is on sale in paperback now:
It was my delight to participate in this blog tour. Thank you to Alison Menzies for providing me with a copy of this book for review. Be sure to check out other reviews of this book at other stops along the blog tour.
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