My grateful thanks to Alison at Elliott and Thompson for a copy of Foxes Unearthed by Lucy Jones in return for an honest review.
Published in paperback on 16th March 2017 Foxes Unearthed is available for purchase by following the publisher links here.
I was lucky enough to interview Lucy Jones about Foxes Unearthed before I’d had time to finish reading it and you can see that interview here.
As one of the largest predators left in Britain, the fox is captivating: a comfortably familiar figure in our country landscapes; an intriguing flash of bright-eyed wildness in our towns.
Yet no other animal attracts such controversy, has provoked more column inches or been so ambiguously woven into our culture over centuries, perceived variously as a beautiful animal, a cunning rogue, a vicious pest and a worthy foe. As well as being the most ubiquitous of wild animals, it is also the least understood.
In Foxes Unearthed Lucy Jones investigates the truth about foxes in a media landscape that often carries complex agendas. Delving into fact, fiction, folklore and her own family history, Lucy travels the length of Britain to find out first-hand why these animals incite such passionate emotions, revealing our rich and complex relationship with one of our most loved – and most vilified – wild animals. This compelling narrative adds much-needed depth to the debate on foxes, asking what our attitudes towards the red fox say about us and, ultimately, about our relationship with the natural world.
My Review of Foxes Unearthed
Foxes Unearthed explores in detail the relationships we humans have with these fascinating creatures.
Let me say at the outset that Foxes Unearthed will not appeal to all readers. I will confess that I didn’t read the book all in one go, but returned to it over a couple of weeks. Those with a particular passion for or interest in foxes will, I think, devour it more rapidly. It is not a cosy celebration of the fox, but rather an erudite essay exploring our perceptions and responses so that it says as much about the human condition as it does about the fox. I thought the passage about the Alconbury incident was an apposite example and I’m not sure I always liked the truth about humanity I was forced to confront reading Foxes Unearthed; it wasn’t always a comfortable experience.
The writing is intricately researched and I appreciated the notes, bibliography and index so that Foxes Unearthed felt like a perfect lesson in presenting material in an accessible form to an audience. I must also just say a word about the chapter illustrations by Tim Oakenfull. They are just stunning.
There was so much to learn about the fox, from its Latin vulpes vulpes through its biblical references to our modern day attitudes. I thought that Lucy Jones presented her material in a very balanced way, often providing thought-provoking examples and comments and making sure the reader has a full picture. So often, as she herself says, attitudes to foxes and their control ‘does depend on who you ask’.
I definitely preferred the passages where Lucy Jones writes more personally and lyrically than factually, but that is personal preference as I’m not a great non-fiction reader. I’m honestly not sure if I enjoyed reading Foxes Unearthed or not but it is most definitely an important book. It made me question my own thought processes, it showed me how to reconsider my own very pro-fox stance and be more authoritative in my opinions and it taught me a very great deal about life in Britain, about foxes and about humans especially. I really recommend reading Foxes Unearthed whatever your usual genre preference.
About Lucy Jones
Lucy Jones is a writer and journalist based in Hampshire, England. She previously worked at NME and The Daily Telegraph. Her writing on culture, science and nature has been published in BBC Earth, BBC Wildlife, the Guardian,TIME, Newsweek and the New Statesman. She runs the Wildlife Daily blog and is the recipient of the Society of Authors’ Roger Deakin Award for Foxes Unearthed.