Molly Fox’s Birthday by Deirdre Maddern

Molly Fox

Now that I have finished Molly Fox’s Birthday I find myself struggling for words, and I really don’t know why.

The story’s unnamed narrator is a playwright. She met Molly Fox at university and they have been friends ever since.

The story opens in Dublin in a hot day in the middle of summer. It is Molly’s birthday, but she is working In New York and the narrator is house-sitting in Molly’s Dublin home. She is supposed to be working on a new play, but she is struggling and her mind wanders. Her thoughts turn to the past.

She ponders the shared history of herself, Molly and their mutual friend Andrew. Their families, their relationships, their aspirations – everything that has turned them into the people they have become.

Their stories slowly unravel in lovely, simple, clear prose. There is little drama or action and yet Molly Fox’s Diary is utterly compelling.

Why? Well, I think it’s because Deirdre Madden has created three vivid, interesting and three-dimensional characters. You cannot help but be interested in who they are and in what happens in their lives.

And that makes Molly Fox’s Diary a lovely book to take a slow, thoughtful journey through.

8 responses

  1. I had mixed feelings about this one. I didn’t really like Molly’s character, and found many of the sections about her a bit dull. I loved Andrew’s character though. I wish the book had concentrated on him, as I found his sections really good. I thought the ending was quite good, and the writing style excellent, but it just needed a little bit more for me to love it.

    • Jackie, I think this was a book where I enjoyed observing and growing to understand the characters, rather than engaging with them and thinking whether I liked them or not. Overall, I’d say it was aliked and admired book, rather than a loved one.

  2. Here is another one for my library list! One of my all-time favorite ‘character development’ books is Wallace Stegner’s Crossing to Safety. In some ways, this sounds similar. Thanks for another great review.

  3. I like your discussion of the characters of this book. It sounds like this book would be a good one for a study of character development.

  4. Pingback: Semicolon » Blog Archive » Saturday Review of Books: July 4, 2009

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