Review: The Bay of Foxes

I received this book for free from Publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Review: The Bay of FoxesThe Bay of Foxes by Sheila Kohler
Published by Penguin on June 26, 2012
Genres: Historical, Mystery
Pages: 240
Format: Paperback
Source: Publisher

An erotic tale of passion and power and their dangerous consequences

In 1978, Dawit, a young, beautiful, and educated Ethiopian refugee, roams the streets of Paris. By chance, he spots the famous French author M., who at sixty is at the height of her fame. Seduced by Dawit's grace and his moving story, M. invites him to live with her. He makes himself indispensable, or so he thinks. When M. brings him to her Sardinian villa, beside the Bay of Foxes, Dawit finds love and temptation—and perfects the art of deception.

First Sentence: “Dawit is sitting in the back of the cafĂ© in the shadows, when he notices her.”

Before I started, all I had to go on was this brief description above and a blurb, which describes the novel as ‘erotic.’ With that in mind, I was really expecting something very different than what I found. I was expecting melodrama, but what I found was a sort of calm, spare prose, lovely and bare. I had no idea what The Bay of Foxes would be like or that I would enjoy it so much.

Personally, I would not describe this novel as erotic. Certainly, sex is a main theme of the novel, but there are no graphic, lurid, romanticized descriptions. I don’t think this book is about living vicariously through Dawit’s sex life. It’s more about the impact sex has upon his life.

However, I suspect that this label may have been used as a way to scare some readers away and perhaps entice others. While the book isn’t erotica, I imagine that it would offend a number of readers. This novel touches on issues that are tender for a number of people: torture, prostitution, and gay sex, for example. If you are easily offended, this book probably isn’t for you. It’s unashamedly dark and creepy.

Part of what intrigued me about this book before I read it was the comparison to Patricia Highsmith, which is on my version of the cover, although not pictured above. I’ve read a couple of Highsmith’s novels and, though she may be incredibly insane, I really think few people can do creepy like she can. Well, Kohler definitely deserves the comparison to Highsmith. If you enjoyed The Talented Mr. Ripley or Strangers on a Train or some other Highsmith novel, you definitely should not miss checking out The Bay of Foxes.

Another awesome thing about The Bay of Foxes is getting to learn a little bit about Ethiopia. My knowledge of African history is extremely limited, so I was able to learn a lot even from the relatively brief references herein. I love seeing this diversity in the characters, as well. Also, look at this beautiful and not whitewashed cover!

The only thing that I was meh about was the ending, which does the thing where this book has actually been written and published by one of the characters thing. I have always hated this trope, mostly because I don’t feel like it really adds anything to the story. Every time I read one that does that, I make the DUN DUN sound from Law & Order.

The Bay of Foxes is wonderful literary fiction, especially for readers that love twists and psychological thrillers.

Favorite Quote:

“Like all colonizers, he thinks, she is ultimately the dupe.”

3 responses to “Review: The Bay of Foxes”

  1. Heather says:

    Yay, we already discussed this! haha. This really does sound awesome. Yay, DUN DUN sound!

  2. Christina K. says:

    I haven’t heard of this one, but I like that the writing reflects the theme in a way, and that it goes beyond what the blurb suggests.

    I like that it takes place in the past, and that it touches on minorities in the West at times of change:)

  3. Anita Yancey says:

    I had not heard of this author before, but this book sounds very interesting, and I would like to give this author’s work a try. Thanks for having this giveaway.

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