Yoshifuji is a man fascinated by foxes, a man discontented and troubled by the meaning of life A misstep at court forces him to retire to his long deserted country estate, to rethink his plans and contemplate the next move that might return him to favor and guarantee his family s prosperityKitsune is a young fox who is fascinated by the large creatures that have suddenly invaded her world She is drawn to them and to Yoshifuji She comes to love him and will do anything to become a human woman to be with himShikujo is Yoshifuji s wife, ashamed of her husband, yet in love with him and uncertain of her role in his world She is confused by his fascination with the creatures of the wood, and especially the foxes that she knows in her heart are harbingers of danger She sees him slipping away and is determined to win him back from the wild for all that she has her own fox related secretMagic binds them all And in the making and breaking of oaths and honors, the patterns of their lives will be changed forever I liked this book, although I liked Fudoki, Johnson s later novel, better.This one is a fairy tale retelling set in medieval Japan, about a fox who falls in love with a man and turns into a human or an illusion of a human in order to have him It s told in epistolary form, through the diaries of the three main characters the fox, the man, and the man s wife Multiple narrators are the curse of the ambitious debut author, but while all three voices clearly come from the same writer, this didn I liked this book, although I liked Fudoki, Johnson s later novel, better.This one is a fairy tale retelling set in medieval Japan, about a fox who falls in love with a man and turns into a human or an illusion of a human in order to have him It s told in epistolary form, through the diaries of the three main characters the fox, the man, and the man s wife Multiple narrators are the curse of the ambitious debut author, but while all three voices clearly come from the same writer, this didn t bother me here, perhaps because of the fairy tale ambiance and the elegant prose Additionally, the book switches between narrators every couple of pages, which helps counteract the story s very leisurely pace and keep readers interest.There is a lot to admire here well drawn characters, a strong sense of a place and respectful, apparently well researched handling of the setting, the insertion of non embarrassing bits of poetry that the characters often use to communicate Johnson does a great job of creating and maintaining a mood pensive, reflective, almost melancholy, which fits the story exactly And the themes of wilderness vs civilization and illusion vs reality are well handled and leave room for reflection The foxes world is an illusion but how much of human civilization is a fiction in one way or another Still, I prefer Fudoki Johnson s writing style, while good here, improved between the two books, and Fudoki hasrelationships between women and less icky sex and obsessive romance The romance between the man and fox here may not have been intended to be romantic in any case, it isn t But if you re looking for a good historical fantasy or fairy tale retelling and don t mind a slower pace, you could do far worse than The Fox Woman so this is a story about a fox who falls in love with a married human man, and in order to get his attention, she uses secret ancient fox magic and she and her family become human, or illusions of humans, and trick the man into falling in love with her and believing that their illusory world is real, as he lives and eats and mates with them and time stands still for a little while the setting is ancient japan, and the story is full of details of the expected behavior of men and women in civiliz so this is a story about a fox who falls in love with a married human man, and in order to get his attention, she uses secret ancient fox magic and she and her family become human, or illusions of humans, and trick the man into falling in love with her and believing that their illusory world is real, as he lives and eats and mates with them and time stands still for a little while the setting is ancient japan, and the story is full of details of the expected behavior of men and women in civilized, noble, japan, read restrained which contrasts sharply with the wild world of the fox, who have no formal standards of proper behavior.it is fine, but not super fine.and my lack of ardor has nothing to do with the triple taboo of having incest, bestiality, and gay human sex all in one volume but really, save something for the sequel, honey i have no problem with mixing species when it comes to the physical act of love whether it be woman and bear or man and troll or man and angel or man and gourd but i just don t buy this love love at first sight may sound trite but it s true, you know maybe somewhere, but not so much here i believe in love, i just don t believe in this fox s love for this man upon first sight what is it in a human physiognomy that is attractive to a fox the other way round, i can understand please do not put me on any watch lists i am not having sex with animals but i can understand the desire to be be with a wild animalthan i can understand a fox s desire to wear clothes and shoes and spend all day in quiet contemplation, waiting for the man to come to her for the sweaty intercourse.because the female life in feudal is this feudal i am unsure of time periods in the olde east japan is totally dull.everything is formal and correct and polite and distant and smacks of ritual.i don t see a fox sitting still for long enough to want in on this world, where every emotion seems to be a burden tranquility is best, of course one strives in one s life for calm acceptance of circumstance, whether good or bad happiness is the pleasantest of emotions because of this, it is also the most dangerous having once felt happiness, one will do anything to maintain it, and losing it, one will grieve regret and sadness one grieves for the dead, but also for friends forgotten, and things lost or mislaid i lost a writing desk long ago even now, i remember it on occasion and feel a pang of regret anger is never acceptable it is a sort of madness pulled from one s soul by the cruelty or carelessness of others jeez louise what fox is gonna choose to live like that me, i prefer my propriety undercut with a little merteuil and i could see a fox wanting to live her life full of sly manipulation and power struggles, not the complete submission and sublimation of this poor wife plus, better wardrobes.the juxtaposition of the civilized and the wild is painfully obvious, but gets emphasized to death in scenes like this fleas and their equivalents, all the tiny harassments of life are everywhere in this world, an unpleasant reminder that life is not as perfect as we would prefer but i was travelling to attend the princess such a reminder at such a time was unwelcome onaga saw my distress, and using a soft paper that had been tucked in her sleeve, she crushed the tiny animal and dropped it through the window grille some of the details of the ritual of communication, i found quite lovely, where married couples exchange poetry, in which even the paper color choice and its texture have an understood meaning but overall, i found the pacing too deliberate for me, and the details too precious i am a wild fox and i need to run free.come to my blog I have always been interested in fantasy with oriental flavor and in haiku poetry, so this book is right up my alley Basically, this is an expansion of a classical japanese fairytale, a three character study about love, relationships, aspirations Plot wise nothing really happens, basically a nobleman, his wife and a magical fox note down in their diaries everyday impressions and spend a lot of time gazing at their navels This is an extreme simplification of the book, for behind these apparent I have always been interested in fantasy with oriental flavor and in haiku poetry, so this book is right up my alley Basically, this is an expansion of a classical japanese fairytale, a three character study about love, relationships, aspirations Plot wise nothing really happens, basically a nobleman, his wife and a magical fox note down in their diaries everyday impressions and spend a lot of time gazing at their navels This is an extreme simplification of the book, for behind these apparent eventless days there is a lot of drama dealing with the condition of women in 10th century, the rigid tenets of social life, the disillusionment of middle age and most of all the nature of love and self discovery.The main selling point for me is the relationship with nature source of beauty and wisdom and mirror of characters emotions Western tradition sees nature as an adversary to be conquered, here it is a garden to be preserved, admired and respected edit for spelling 2015 Some kitsune, the Japanese word for foxes, have magic can shape shift into human beings But that choice has costs, as all choices do The Fox Woman weaves three diaries into a story about a kitsune who falls in love with a human First, there s the fox woman herself, whose love of Yoshifuji drives her to become human She forces her family to become human with her and creates an entirely magical world in order to seduce Yoshifuji Yoshifuji s entries describe his growing fascination with the fo Some kitsune, the Japanese word for foxes, have magic can shape shift into human beings But that choice has costs, as all choices do The Fox Woman weaves three diaries into a story about a kitsune who falls in love with a human First, there s the fox woman herself, whose love of Yoshifuji drives her to become human She forces her family to become human with her and creates an entirely magical world in order to seduce Yoshifuji Yoshifuji s entries describe his growing fascination with the foxes, and also the frustrations of his marriage to Shikujo Shikujo is the ideal 10th century Japanese wife, but that ideal means she s rarely free to act out her own desires, or to even know what those desires are Shikujo s entries show her perfection, but also how that perfection inhibits her relationships with everyone.The Fox Woman once again reiterates why I m so glad I was born in the 1980s Taking place in 11th century Japan, the social norms for women were stifling, suffocating But this is a novel about agency, about how the choices we make affect us and everyone around us, even if we follow the social norms Shikujo has to choose to break away from perfection to be herself, to becomewild, while Kitsune has to shed some of her wildness and magic to find what it really means to be human She finds agency in human emotion and complexity Yoshifuji, as the husband, isn t restricted in the same ways, but he is also imprisoned by the social restrictions on women, for he wants a wife that is his equal What kind of life is it for him if the people he loves aren t allowed to interact with him in healthy ways This is a subtle, lovely novel I recommend also reading Sei Shonagen s The Pillow Book It s a zuihitsu a diary in lists by an 11th century Japanese court lady, and I can tell it influenced the writing of The Fox Woman as Johnson mentions in her acknowledgements It s also a fun read