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Authors: Sheila Kohler

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The Bay of Foxes

BOOK: The Bay of Foxes
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Praise for Sheila Kohler

“Sheila Kohler’s timeless stories are always transporting. The elegance of her writing underscores the charged, disturbing behavior she presents so vividly.”

—Amy Hempel

“A real master of narrative.”

Kirkus Reviews

“Her themes of displacement and alienation cut to the heart as she quietly strips away the tales we tell ourselves in order to go on from day to day.”


Praise for
Love Child

“A widowed South African woman of forty-eight confronts the betrayals of her past in Kohler’s graceful new novel.… Kohler’s tale is full of tension, haunting images, and admirable restraint.”

Publishers Weekly

“[In a] sharply detailed book, [Kohler] portrays a slightly disreputable white woman in Johannesburg who came of age, married, had children, and was widowed, all within the confines of South Africa’s English enclave.… Bill looks back and questions the choices that were made for her… A strong portrait of a weak woman. Recommend this to readers of Damon Galgut and J. M. Coetzee. For all literary fiction collections.”

Library Journal

“Secrets drive this gripping historical novel about a white South African woman…. mystery is always there…. Everyone compromises in this melancholy tale of looking the other way, and what holds the reader is how even the few dramatic revelations tell ‘so little of the truth,’ offering only haunting questions about the hidden power of money and prejudice.”


“A woman’s life of disappointment has been written thousands of ways, but the stories that endure dismantle the facades that time and practice erect over a lifetime of hurt and lost love.”

The Washington Post

“This novel packs a lot of story into its pages….
Love Child
is an intriguingly messy story with an unusual perspective on family dysfunction.”

“This story, set in the South Africa of the past, is the tale of a woman’s revenge on her demanding husband and the privileged class she has married into—and the vindication of her secret past. Sheila Kohler’s prose smokes and burns like a fire that cannot be put out and that suddenly leaps into all-devouring flame. She has all the gifts of a natural storyteller—a passionate interest in human motives, an eidetic recall of period and place, and a sense of the shape of a tale unfolding in the fullness of time.”

—Edmund White, author of
City Boy

“Sheila Kohler possesses a gorgeous imagination.
Love Child
is a warm, moving and beautifully crafted story of passion and loss and redemption.”

—Patrick McGrath, author of

“Absorbing settings with exquisitely rendered prose; Kohler’s
Love Child
is a classic story of forbidden love and past lives told in retrospect…. Readers in search of a summer page-turner suffused with passion and intrigue,
Love Child
is a story that will take you there, and back.”

Praise for
Becoming Jane Eyre

“Exquisite… A stirring exploration of the passions and resentments.”

The Washington Post Book World

“Sensitive, intelligent and engaging… Kohler offers an imaginative recreation of the woman who created this once-scandalous, now beloved classic.”

Kirkus Reviews
(starred review)

“Passionate… a novel that refuses to be distracted from the simple but sophisticated act of literary creation.”

The Boston Globe

“Sheila Kohler moves with assured ease between fiction and biography, between the inner life of Charlotte Brontë as she composes
Jane Eyre
and the comedy of professional rivalry among the three Brontë sisters.”

—J. M. Coetzee, author of

“Sheila Kohler’s imagination—deep and playful, always original—instinctively completes that of her elusive subject, Charlotte Brontë, with such intelligence and perception that we give ourselves over without hesitation.”

—Susanna Moore, author of
In the Cut

“An unforgettable journey enriched by a sympathetic understanding of the three Brontë sisters as well as their writing.”

—Frances Kiernan, author of
The Last Mrs. Astor

“Sheila Kohler speculates with great grace and insight upon the currents that run between a writer’s work and a writer’s life.”

—Julia Leigh, author of

“Bravo! I couldn’t put it down and finished it in the depths of the night.”

—Lyndall Gordon, author of
Charlotte Brontë: A Passionate Life

Becoming Jane Eyre
is lush and filled with dark sensuality and the tension of unsaid things. The style is quite different from Charlotte Brontë’s in
Jane Eyre
, yet the tone and imagery and spirit remain in the same realm.
Jane Eyre
is one of my favorite books and Sheila Kohler one of my favorite writers.”

—Amy Tan, author of
The Joy Luck Club

The Bay of Foxes

A Novel




Published by the Penguin Group

Penguin Group (USA) Inc., 375 Hudson Street, New York, New York 10014, U.S.A. • Penguin Group (Canada), 90 Eglinton Avenue East, Suite 700, Toronto, Ontario, Canada M4P 2Y3 (a division of Pearson Penguin Canada Inc.) • Penguin Books Ltd, 80 Strand, London WC2R 0RL, England • Penguin Ireland, 25 St Stephen’s Green, Dublin 2, Ireland (a division of Penguin Books Ltd) • Penguin Group (Australia), 250 Camberwell Road, Camberwell, Victoria 3124, Australia (a division of Pearson Australia Group Pty Ltd) • Penguin Books India Pvt Ltd, 11 Community Centre, Panchsheel Park, New Delhi - 110 017, India • Penguin Group (NZ), 67 Apollo Drive, Rosedale, Auckland 0632, New Zealand (a division of Pearson New Zealand Ltd) • Penguin Books (South Africa) (Pty) Ltd, 24 Sturdee Avenue, Rosebank, Johannesburg 2196, South Africa

Penguin Books Ltd, Registered Offices:

80 Strand, London WC2R 0RL, England

First published in Penguin Books 2012

1  3  5  7  9  10  8  6  4  2

Copyright © Sheila Kohler, 2012

All rights reserved

Publisher’s Note

This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents either are the product of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously, and any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, business establishments, events, or locales is entirely coincidental.


Kohler, Sheila.

The bay of foxes : a novel / Sheila Kohler.

p. cm.

ISBN: 978-1-101-58877-2

I. Title.

PR9369.3.K64B38 2012

823’.914—dc23       2012005999

Printed in the United States of America

Set in Bembo

Designed by Elke Sigal

Except in the United States of America, this book is sold subject to the condition that it shall not, by way of trade or otherwise, be lent, resold, hired out, or otherwise circulated without the publisher’s prior consent in any form of binding or cover other than that in which it is published and without a similar condition including this condition being imposed on the subsequent purchaser.

The scanning, uploading, and distribution of this book via the Internet or via any other means without the permission of the publisher is illegal and punishable by law. Please purchase only authorized electronic editions, and do not participate in or encourage electronic piracy of copyrighted materials. Your support of the author’s rights is appreciated.



For the immigrants, for the Africans,
and particularly for John, whose surname I never knew

For Nature, in no shallow surge

Against thee either sex may urge,

Why hast thou made us but in halves—

Co-relatives? This makes us slaves.


BOOK: The Bay of Foxes
5.37Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub

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