by Patch O'Furr
Submitted by Fred Patten, Furry’s favorite historian and reviewer.
The Fox of Richmond Park, by Kate Dreyer
London, Unbound, July 2017, trade paperback, £11.99 (287 pages), Kindle $1.99.
“If the Animals of Farthing Wood had lived in London and hated each other a little bit more, their story may have been a lot like this one.
‘Get out of the way or get an antler up the arse, yeah? I’m sick of these glorified donkeys.’” (blurb)
Almost all the (British) reviewers have compared this British novel to Colin Dann’s 1979 classic The Animals of Farthing Wood. In it, the woodland community of Farthing Wood is paved over by human developers. The wildlife inhabitants, led by Fox, undertake a dangerous trek to the safety of a distant nature reserve.
The Animals of Farthing Wood is a Young Adult novel. All the animals act together in brotherhood. No one eats anybody.
The Fox of Richmond Park is an Adult novel. Richmond Park is a large wildlife park in London that Wikipedia says is known for its deer. In this talking-animal novel, the deer are the arrogant elite class of the Park’s fauna. When the deer decide they want the lakeside area where several foxes have had their dens for generations, they just tell the foxes to move out. Most accept the order without protest. Vince does not.
“‘Why I should leave,’ Vince snarled as he prowled back and forth in the semi-circle of bare earth that marked the entrance to his den, black ears flat to his head, ‘just because some over-entitled deer want to be near the lake?’
‘It’s not like that. And you can dig a new, bigger den in a day or two. I don/t see what the problem is. Other animals have moved without a fuss.’ Edward tilted his antlers towards the small skulk of foxes several leaps away, who had gathered at the edge of the woodland to wait for the sun to set. ‘And your friends are being very cooperative.’
‘That’s because you’ve told them a load of scat about how great the cemetery is.’ Vince said, the copper fur on his back bristling. He’d had every intention of talking this through civilly with the stag, but his temper had other ideas. Just like last time.” (p. 1)