Tag Archive > Essie Fox

The Goddess and the Thief

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The Goddess and the Thief, Essie Fox, book reviewAlice Willoughby’s mother died soon after she was born, but she had a happy childhood in 19th century India with her beloved ayah, until she was 8, when her father decided to send her home to live with her aunt Mercy in Windsor. Shortly afterwards, he died too.

Alice’s reactions to England contained echoes of Frances Hodgson Burnett’s stories of girls brought up in India and sent back to England, The Secret Garden and The Little Princess. To Alice, Windsor seems damp, dreary and grey compared to India with its beautiful vibrant colours. She finds consolation playing with Mercy’s jewellery, silks and other clothes while her aunt is out, discovering mysterious mementoes of a past that Mercy refuses to talk about.


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Q&A with Essie Fox

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Essie Fox, author (The Somnambulist)Essie’s Fox novel set in Victorian London, The Somnambulist, published in May 2011, was quite a treat for fans of historical mysteries.  She started her career as an illustrator and an editorial assistant but now she is becoming a master of Victorian gothic mystery novel. Dividing her time between Windsor and London, she is working on the second novel. After reviewing The Somnambulist we were curious to know more about research and story behind Essie’s literary debut.

CBF: What attracted you to the setting of Victorian England? What do you think is most interesting about that period?

Essie Fox: Oddly enough, when I first started to write I was planning on something contemporary. But every time I began, a character or some ‘item’ from the past would crop up and intrude on the novel’s plot – a letter found under some floorboards, or an antique ornament which had some past significance. Finally, I realised that these were the parts of the story that gave me most ‘excitement’ – and as I’ve always enjoyed reading Victorian novels, whether the old classics or modern day versions, I decided to take the bull by the horns and see if I could do it too.

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The Somnambulist

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The Somnambulist by Essie Fox, book review17 year old Phoebe lives with her mother and her aunt Cissy, a former opera singer at Covent Garden, in a big house in Bow, east London with several servants. When Cissy dies suddenly, Phoebe is devastated. Mama is struggling to make ends meet when Nathaniel Samuels, a wealthy businessman who knew Cissy, makes an offer – of a sort of job as companion to his invalid wife in their Herefordshire mansion. Mrs Lydia Samuels has never got over the tragic death of her young daughter. Phoebe finds herself accidentally discovering a whole series of dark secrets.

The Somnambulist is set in London and Herefordshire and is a sort of Victorian historical melodrama combined with a coming of age tale, with the theatre, a big country house, issues of inheritance and betrayal, and several disturbing secrets.


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