Cover image for The fox's walk
The fox's walk
Davis-Goff, Annabel.
Personal Author:
First edition.
Publication Information:
Orlando, Fla. : Harcourt, [2003]

Physical Description:
viii, 319 pages ; 24 cm
Electronic Access:
Publisher description
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X Adult Fiction Open Shelf

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During the First World War, ten-year-old Alice Moore is left in the care of her autocratic grandmother at Ballydavid, a lovely country house in County Waterford. Living in a rigid, old-fashioned household where propriety is all, Alice is forced to piece together her world-a world on the brink of revolution-from overheard conversations, servants' gossip, and her own keen observations. She soon realizes that her family's privilege comes at a great cost to others-among them a psychic countessdown on her luck, a Roman Catholic boy whom Alice hero-worships, and an admired governess, as well as most of her neighbors. After the Easter Rising, when blood is spilled close to home and loyalties are divided, tensions within Ireland and Ballydavid mount. Alice is forced to choose between her heritage of privilege and her growing moral and political conscience.

Author Notes

Annabel Davis-Goff is the author of The Dower House and This Cold Country , both New York Times Notable books, and of Walled Gardens , a memoir. She was born and educated in Ireland and lives in New York City.

Reviews 3

Booklist Review

Davis-Goff continues to stake out her fictional territory--a milieu that is Anglo-Irish in the first half of the twentieth century. Here, in an elegiac novel based partly on her mother's life, the central character is nine-year-old Alice, who is left behind at her grandmother's house, Ballydavid, when her parents and siblings return to London after their usual summer stay. Despite the fact that World War I is raging and causes a terrible family loss, and Irish nationalists threaten the status quo closer to home, Ballydavid seems sheltered from the turmoil, in part because of Grandmother's implacable resistance to change. Alice struggles with her own need for love as well as with emerging insights about both the people round her and events in the larger world. The novel proceeds at a stately pace, much like Grandmother's lumbering and rarely driven Sunbeam. The interest lies in the sharply observed characters and in the sensitive child's-eye view of a way of life that was soon lost. --Mary Ellen Quinn Copyright 2003 Booklist

Publisher's Weekly Review

A pivotal few years in Irish history-1912-1916-as seen through the eyes of a sensitive 10-year-old girl, whose immediate focus is her own sense of abandonment by her parents, is the piercingly affecting theme of Davis-Goff's new novel. As in her previous books (The Dower House; This Cold Country), Davis-Goff brilliantly chronicles the vanished world of the Anglo-Irish gentry. Left behind at her grandmother's country estate when her parents return to Dublin, Alice Moore at first chafes with desperate loneliness, bewilderment and misery at the strict rules of behavior in force at Ballydavid, the result of her aristocratic grandmother's preoccupation with the unbending social code of the Ascendancy. Gradually, she comes to love Ballydavid, while becoming aware of the events that signal the approaching end of its privileged status. Her uncle is killed during WWI, and the family's mourning seems endless. Rebellion is brewing in Ireland, the Easter Rising occurs and Sir Roger Casement, a Protestant considered a traitor to his class, will be martyred. With deft assurance, Davis-Goff conveys the complex social order of the Anglo-Irish hierarchy, in which class, religion and political thought, heretofore complacently stratified, are undergoing vital challenges. As she traces Alice's growing maturation, the narrative's elegiac tone and graceful prose do much to overcome the necessarily factual interpolations of historical events. (Sept.) Forecast: Davis-Goff's previous novels earned excellent reviews. Her audience should increase with this book, particularly because it has a good hook for talk shows-much of the background is taken from an unfinished memoir by the author's mother. (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

Library Journal Review

Davis-Goff's This Cold Country and The Dower House were considered essential reading for lovers of romance and Irish literature alike. So one can have high hopes for this tale of a little girl's sojourn on her grandmother's estate in County Waterford during World War II. (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.



AS IN MOST HAPPY childhoods, my life consisted of long periods of boredom interspersed with moments of drama that did not have far-reaching consequences. The summer of my first memories I was five years old and still an only child. My mother was with me at Ballydavid-we were visiting my grandmother and great-aunt-and she must have been pregnant, carrying my brother Edward. Of her pregnancy, I remember nothing.Instead, I remember moments of that summer-small scenes full of meaning that I couldn't then, with my limited vocabulary, convey to the grown-ups. I am not confident I can do so now. The largest of these fragments of memory begins on the avenue at Ballydavid. It says something about the benevolence of the Irish countryside in those days, and even more about the casual attitude toward children in my not overindulgent family, that no one noticed I had wandered away from the house-along the avenue almost to the wrought-iron and stone-pillared gates, on the other side of which lay the road leading south to the sea or north toward Waterford.The entertaining of children was not, either in my family or in society at large, given the importance that it now is. There was nothing unusual about my being turned out of doors alone on a cold dark day with an airy instruction to play. The front door would then be closed, and the adult who had so instructed me would go back to sit by the drawing-room fire.Usually I would loiter for a moment or two, hoping for a reprieve, before making the best of it. Ballydavid was not lacking in opportunities for the adventurous child I later became, but at five years old I was not tall enough to open the gates to the walled garden, nor was I encouraged by O'Neill to hang about the farmyard, under his feet or the hooves of the animals he cared for. I would be hard pressed, even now, to define in a couple of words O'Neill's exact position at Ballydavid, but all power over the farm lay in his hands, and his influence, although in a way not immediately apparent, possibly even to Grandmother, his employer, spread much farther afield. Very often Jock, the Highland collie, would be loitering around the front door, but that day he had found somewhere warmer and more cheerful to spend his afternoon. When it became clear I would have to amuse myself as best I could for the next hour or two, I wandered down the avenue with no destination in mind. And, with no particular enthusiasm, killing time until tea.The avenue at Ballydavid curved and sloped gently downhill, disappearing around a bend where the mown-grass verges were interrupted by a clump of laurels. The house had been built on a hill overlooking the estuary of the river; the avenue, and then the road it led to, with stone bridges over streams and even a small hill on the way, gradually descended to the strand, a mere foot or two above the level of the sea at high tide; there it joined the narrow, sand-bordered road that followed the outline of the coast.On either si Excerpted from The Fox's Walk by Annabel Davis-Goff All rights reserved by the original copyright owners. Excerpts are provided for display purposes only and may not be reproduced, reprinted or distributed without the written permission of the publisher.