Book review: Madame Zero, by Sarah Hall
Sarah Hall has said that “short stories are a reminder that you never get to the bottom of things”. You might interpret this in more ways than one, but one might be that the short story – at least the kind she writes – is a light directed briefly into the mysterious darkness of other people’s lives. Explanations may be offered for what is revealed, but they are always insufficient. Sometimes no explanation is possible. So, for example, in “Mrs Fox”, a young woman, walking with her husband in the woods metamorphoses before his eyes into a fox. He takes her home, protects her, drives their cleaning woman away, but cannot keep her. The call of the wild is too strong. Almost a hundred years ago, David Garnett, wrote a charming, but whimsical, short novel “Lady Into Fox”, which was a great success. Hall’s story is darker; charm isn’t her business. It’s well done, matter-of-fact, yet at the same time disturbing.