Excerpt from Confessions of the Fox by Jordy Rosenberg, plus links to reviews, author biography & more

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Confessions of the Fox

by Jordy Rosenberg

Confessions of the Fox by Jordy Rosenberg X
Confessions of the Fox by Jordy Rosenberg
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  • Published:
    Jun 2018, 352 pages

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Book Reviewed by:
Kate Braithwaite

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Excerpt
Confessions of the Fox

But others say it went back much further than that. That the road to the gallows began before the Plague Ships. Before Bess. Before Aurie. Before Jack became the most notorious Gaol-breaker London had yet known. Back when he stumbl'd through life delirious as a light-bedevil'd Moth.

His mum made clear she'd had enough of Jack the day she brought him to the master carpenter Kneebone's doorstep in October 1713. As she marched him down Regent Street, sweat formed at the edges of her hairline, pinkening her alabaster face paint.

"Be a good girl.Do what you're told. Behave. Don't act shameful," she said, regarding Jack sourly. They crossed dubious, slough-filled Tyburn and headed towards Cavendish Square. Sparrows nattered on hedges, tumbled in dust baths Underfoot, disregarding the burghers and high-toned ladies sweeping by.

His mother snapp'd her knuckle into his ribs as they approached the brown oak door.

"And walk like a lady! Try not t'stomp like an animal."

Jack tried to imagine moving his legs more smoothly, like she said. But it didn't feel right to glide like jewel bearings in the guts of a well-oiled Clock. He liked to sprawl through Space, landing hard on the edges of his feet.

His mother glared down, her nose crinkling like he was a piece of spoiled mutton. Then the door opened.

It was Kneebone. Startled. Then angry.

"What's this?" He wav'd his hand at the hard-negotiated outfit that Jack had arrived in. Tweed trousers and rough muslin smish that had belonged to his brother, Thomas, long Gone now on his Indenture to the colonies and probably Dead of Cold. Or Overwork. Or incorrigible Tendencies.

"She's a bargain, sir, and you won't have to keep her in any skirts."

Kneebone's eyes widened, narrowed. His upper teeth munch'd at his bottom lip. Then he gestured to Jack with a long-boned hand full of splinters and slits of dried Blood. "Does she work a handsaw and an awl?"

Nodding. "Strangely adept with Tools." "And her name?"

Jack's brain turned off in that way he'd perfected when he felt all the muscles of his Body clench up. Which was often.

He knew his mother said something in response — because he saw her Mouth move.

Kneebone took a piece of Balsam from his pocket. Chewed it. Talked and gesticulat'd angrily. Camphor puffed from his mouth with each word. Jack unheard she—unheard it into the swarm of the rest of the sounds Kneebone was making — She's ugly, isn't she — Quite — But a bargain's a bargain — Still, what am I meant t'do with this.


Jack imagin'd dropping into the Thames on a summer day, the heavy press of Water 'round his Ears muffling the shes and the shes and the what am I meant t'do with this. He peered 'round Kneebone's scrawny limbs — now parked on his hips in a belligerent-chicken posture — into the entry room. It was stuffed with woodworking. The Odor of raw timber and oils hung just inside the threshold. The scent calm'd him.

Sounds began to come back as through a muffling Fog.

"She's dexterous — very," he heard his mother saying and nodding, her voice bouncing. "Always gettin' into things at home. There isn't a Doodad that she hasn't undone and redone much the better for 't."


Looking up at his mother as she turned to leave, Jack felt his usual flicker of unaccountable sympathy. Maybe even Compassion. The scent of whiskey drifted down. His Heart twist'd in its red socket deep in his chest. He knew it then: he would never see his home again. As bitter as his home was, it was his. Never again to hear the urchins tumbling down Neal Street, the din ricocheting up the close-packed passageway — never again to smell his mother's particular tart scent — the citrusy Anxiety and disappointment that wafted off her Body like a Wind. He was being left here with the merchants and the accountants, the barristers with their busyness and hollow Eyes and looking-away. Even if his mother looked at him with Horror, she looked at him. To these folks he was a scuttling servant — a dog who spake English.

Excerpted from Confessions of the Fox by Jordy Rosenberg. Copyright © 2018 by Jordy Rosenberg. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.

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