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Foxlowe (2016)

de Eleanor Wasserberg

MembresRessenyesPopularitatValoració mitjanaMencions
15610136,441 (3.45)5
"An astonishing literary debut about a young girl's coming of age in the haunting, enchanting world of an English commune -- a modern gothic novel with echoes of Room and Never Let Me Go. Foxlowe is a crumbling old house in the moors -- wild, secluded, and magical place. For Green, it is not just home, but everything she knows. Outside, people live in little square houses, with unhappy families and tedious jobs. At Foxlowe, Green runs free through the hallways and orchards, in the fields and among the Standing Stones. Outside, people are corrupted by money. At Foxlowe, the Family shares everything. Outside, the Bad is everywhere. At Foxlowe, everyone in the Family is safe -- as long as they follow Freya's rules and perform her rituals. But as Green's little sister, Blue, grows up, she shows more and more interest in the Outside. Before long she starts to talk about becoming a Leaver. . . . Building inexorably to its terrifying climax, Foxlowe tells a chilling, irresistible story of superstition and survival, betrayal and redemption, and a utopia gone badly wrong" --… (més)
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In part 1 the story is told by Green, a young girl who has been raised at Foxlowe, a commune at a dilapidated manor home in England adjacent to the moors. It is modern (70s/80s) so it doesn't have the gothic feel, but it is still plenty creepy. The problem with communes is someone always wants to be in charge and when everything is shared in common (including people), feelings are volatile. Since this was all the normal Green ever knew, she has a matter-of-fact understanding and acceptance of how Foxlowe operates. The mythos of the place is re-told and embraced by all the members -- there are about a dozen. They measure time in solstices and they have the requisite gardens, goats, chickens, alcohol and pot. It is a place to repel The Bad which lurks outside in the darkness, and sometimes interiorly in Green and her younger "sister" Blue who comes to Foxlowe as an infant and whose origins are not explained. (stolen? foundling?) The nominal leader and owner is Richard, but the de facto leader is Freya whose belief in Foxlowe and her running of it include fanaticism and sadism. When Richard becomes a Leaver, chasing after Freya's rival Libby, the commune tips toward cult and Freya exacts loyalty but Blue and Green bear the brunt of her rage. Part 2 is told from Green's young adulthood (25) about 10 years later. She is now Jess and her life is so damaged that she is incapable of living in the "real world" without heavy drugs and bizarre coping mechanisms. She has contact with a few former members -- Richard has taken responsibility for her, but she can't shake the past or move on. Part 3 has her returning to Foxlowe and letting us in on the implosion and how it all disastrously ended. Reminded me of Room where children who are raised in a horrible reality have such a warped sense of normalcy. That part of the book is well done. The sequence of events and the unreliable narrator made things a little cloudy at points. I prefer more clarity even if it is horrendous. ( )
  CarrieWuj | Oct 24, 2020 |
Mediocre books are sometimes harder to read than bad books - this one was a fine Room-style take on cult indoctrination, but not great. There were so many moments it could have been a great read, but ultimately the child protagonist's voice wasn't convincing, the plot points around child abuse were telegraphed and cliche or even gratuitous, the closing pages a misstep in the direction of something that might have been chilling by a more experienced writer.

I'm not sure who I would recommend this to. ( )
  KLmesoftly | Nov 18, 2018 |
Creepy and a commune/cult - sign me up! However fascinating this book sounds, it's just boring.

I won this in a Goodreads Giveaway. ( )
  Lauranthalas | Mar 22, 2018 |
A young girl, Green, grows up in a commune living in a crumbling estate near the moor and ancient standing stones, but the utopian community isn't as ideal as it's made out to be.

The story is told in three parts. The first part is about Green growing up in the commune, which introduces the members of the commune, particularly Green's domineering biological mother, Freya, and her little sister, Blue, who I believe Freya kidnapped as a baby. We also learn about their strange beliefs about outside world and the so-called Bad that's out there, and explore Green's contained world of the rambling estate, its grounds, and the moor that surrounds it. Green seems genuinely unaware of her world's creepiness: the child abuse and neglect, the constant drug use and drinking (even by children), the squalor and lack of food, the lack of education (none of the children learn to read or write). The reader, however, is wondering what hold Freya has over the other adults in the house that keeps them compliant with all this. They are surely all damaged psyches, but because Green's perspective is necessarily limited, the reader doesn't get as full as picture as we'd probably like, especially of Freya, who often seems more witch or angry goddess than human (although there is nothing overtly supernatural about this story). Green doesn't recognize any of this, but then, as she points out, the commune is the only world she knows; the Outside is an entirely alien place. Eventually, a crisis destroys the commune, and the second part is told by Green as a young adult, first homeless and rapidly becoming an alcoholic, then living with a former founder of the commune who is apparently her biological father and his new wife. She feels drawn to return, though, and when she learns that Freya has died, she does go back to the now deserted, crumbling house. Finally, Green fills in the missing part: what happened to bring everything to an end, and it is disturbing indeed. The epilogue, too, is creepy but fitting. I enjoyed this quick read, although I was left wanting to know a bit more about the people--particularly the adults--who Green grew up with and why they were drawn to this cult-like community. ( )
  sturlington | May 22, 2017 |
“Foxlowe” is a seriously creepy book. You wouldn’t think so; Green, our narrator, thinks Foxlowe is the best place possible for a kid to grow up. Not that she has anything to compare it to; she was born there. It’s a commune, where everyone is equal, things are shared, they live off the land as much as possible, and there are many celebrations. She knows kids Outside have to go to school while she gets to learn from the land. But while the book starts on a major festival day- Summer Solstice- the very first scene is one of punishment. Green is taking the Spike Walk, where the child is forced to drag her bare arm along exposed nail points. Punishments are meted out by Freya, one of the Founders, and her list of punishable offenses is long. Freya claims these punishments keep the Family protected; it is keeping The Bad out. The Bad can be invited in in many ways; talking to Outsiders, going outside their limited territory (the moor, the Standing Stones), seeming to prefer the company of Libby (fellow founder and rival for the affections of Richard, who is owner of the decaying, ramshackle mansion they live in), disagreeing with Freya. But Green loves Freya (probably her bio mom) and will do whatever it takes to make her happy.

But while Green can see no other life, she has a playmate- a boy (Toby) a few years older than her, brought to Foxlowe when was 6 or so, who remembers Outside and aspires to other things. But it’s a status quo until one day Freya brings home a baby, Blue, and puts Green – about 5 at the time- in charge of her. Needless to say, between jealousy and ineptitude, things don’t go well.

The kids are neglected. Food is sporadic. They are given wine and moonshine from the time they are babies. They can barely read, and Green doesn’t know her numbers even as an adult. They get stoned with the adults a lot of the time. Blue is a challenge to Freya from the time she’s little, dealing with her punishments stoically. Toby’s tales of Outside fascinate Blue. Blue is the balance to Green; despite being brought up from birth in Foxlowe, she doesn’t accept things as they are.

Green’s story bounces around in time; in one installment she’s a child, in the next an adult, in the next, a young teen. Her calm take on things like the Spike Walk is eerie. Even as an adult, long out of the Family, her take on life is still shaped by her childhood and Freya’s jealous urge for power over people. This badly damaged person still sees things the way she did as a child. It’s a very compelling story- I read it in two sittings- and despite the horror we can see that in some ways, Green’s childhood as she saw it was very beautiful and filled with magic. But family dynamics can be just as ugly in an intentional community as in the wild Outside, and that’s what rules Foxlowe. ( )
  lauriebrown54 | Apr 9, 2017 |
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"An astonishing literary debut about a young girl's coming of age in the haunting, enchanting world of an English commune -- a modern gothic novel with echoes of Room and Never Let Me Go. Foxlowe is a crumbling old house in the moors -- wild, secluded, and magical place. For Green, it is not just home, but everything she knows. Outside, people live in little square houses, with unhappy families and tedious jobs. At Foxlowe, Green runs free through the hallways and orchards, in the fields and among the Standing Stones. Outside, people are corrupted by money. At Foxlowe, the Family shares everything. Outside, the Bad is everywhere. At Foxlowe, everyone in the Family is safe -- as long as they follow Freya's rules and perform her rituals. But as Green's little sister, Blue, grows up, she shows more and more interest in the Outside. Before long she starts to talk about becoming a Leaver. . . . Building inexorably to its terrifying climax, Foxlowe tells a chilling, irresistible story of superstition and survival, betrayal and redemption, and a utopia gone badly wrong" --

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