Summary and book reviews of Confessions of the Fox by Jordy Rosenberg

Confessions of the Fox

by Jordy Rosenberg

Confessions of the Fox by Jordy Rosenberg X
Confessions of the Fox by Jordy Rosenberg
  • Critics' Opinion:

    Readers' Opinion:

     Not Yet Rated
  • First Published:
    Jun 2018, 352 pages
    Paperback:
    Mar 2019, 352 pages

    Genres

  • Rate this book


Book Reviewed by:
Kate Braithwaite
Buy This Book

About this Book

Book Summary

A love story set in the eighteenth-century London of notorious thieves and queer subcultures, this genre-bending debut tells a profound story of gender, desire, and liberation.

Jack Sheppard and Edgeworth Bess were the most notorious thieves, jailbreakers, and lovers of eighteenth-century London. Yet no one knows the true story; their confessions have never been found.

Until now. Reeling from heartbreak, a scholar named Dr. Voth discovers a long-lost manuscript - a gender-defying exposé of Jack and Bess's adventures. Dated 1724, the book depicts a London underworld where scamps and rogues clash with the city's newly established police force, queer subcultures thrive, and ominous threats of the Plague abound. Jack - a transgender carpenter's apprentice - has fled his master's house to become a legendary prison-break artist, and Bess has escaped the draining of the fenlands to become a revolutionary. 

Is Confessions of the Fox an authentic autobiography or a hoax? Dr. Voth obsessively annotates the manuscript, desperate to find the answer. As he is drawn deeper into Jack and Bess's tale of underworld resistance and gender transformation, it becomes clear that their fates are intertwined - and only a miracle will save them all.

Confessions of the Fox is, at once, a work of speculative historical fiction, a soaring love story, a puzzling mystery, an electrifying tale of adventure and suspense, and an unabashed celebration of sex and sexuality. Writing with the narrative mastery of Sarah Waters and the playful imagination of Nabokov, Jordy Rosenberg is an audacious storyteller of extraordinary talent. 

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...

Membership Advantages
  • Reviews
  • "Beyond the Book" articles
  • Free books to read and review (US only)
  • Find books by time period, setting & theme
  • Read-alike suggestions by book and author
  • Book club discussions
  • and much more!
  • Just $12 for 3 months or $39 for a year.
  • More about membership!

Reviews

BookBrowse Review

BookBrowse

Confessions of the Fox is a complex novel with layers of meaning and textual questioning that would merit discussion in an academic tutorial and may push away the average reader. That said, Rosenberg's writing is top-notch, his talent is undeniable and his evocation of early eighteenth-century London is a pleasure to read...continued

Full Review (438 words).

This review is available to non-members for a limited time. For full access, become a member today.

(Reviewed by Kate Braithwaite).

Media Reviews

Kirkus Reviews
Starred Review. A singular, daring, and thrilling novel: political, sexy, and cunning as a fox.

Publishers Weekly
Starred Review. Astonishing and mesmerizing ... [Jordy] Rosenberg is an ebullient and witty storyteller.

Booklist
Starred Review. Resonant of George Saunders, of Nikolai Gogol, and of nothing that's ever been written before ... irreverent, erudite, and not to be missed.

Author Blurb Sarah Perry, author of The Essex Serpent
Quite simply extraordinary ... Imagine if Maggie Nelson, Daphne du Maurier, and Daniel Defoe collaborated? That.

Author Blurb Kelly Link, author of Get in Trouble
Confessions of the Fox is an astonishing, bawdy, dazzling triumph of a book.

Author Blurb Lidia Yuknavitch, author of The Book of Joan
A genre-bending, high-octane thrill from beginning to end ... I couldn't put it down.

Author Blurb China MiĂ©ville, author of The Last Days of New Paris
Extraordinary and brilliant ... At once a queer love story, radical counterhistory, and a thrilling page-turner, Confessions of the Fox is a vitally important work of our time.

Author Blurb Alexander Chee, author of The Queen of the Night
A triumphant debut ... Adventure and erudition meet with a loose-limbed poetry in every sentence, and the result is a magician's trick of a novel but on a grand scale.

Author Blurb Maggie Nelson, author of The Argonauts
A riotous and transporting novel. It's rich in the sound of another time, while thrillingly germane to our own. Jordy Rosenberg is a total original - part scamp, part genius - who has written a rollicking page-turner of a first novel. Hang on for the ride.

Author Blurb Victor LaValle, author of The Changeling
Hot damn! Jordy Rosenberg is one of the finest new talents I've seen in many years. Confessions of the Fox is an incredibly smart book that's also one hell of a good read.

Author Blurb Melissa Febos, author of Whip Smart and Abandon Me
A magnificent debut ... an intellectual thrill ride whose relentless wit made me shout with delight, a queer historical romance that speaks directly to our contemporary moment, and the sexiest book I've read in a long, long time.

Author Blurb Eileen Myles, author of Chelsea Girls
I devoured this book because of its Dickensian devotion to gnarly historical steam punk realism. Really it's such an obsessive read, sad it was over. I couldn't stop wanting to go there.

Author Blurb Fred Moten, author of Black and Blur
Beauty and violence go together; and what it is to live and practice that entanglement, under the duress of the cops in our streets and in our heads, is what Confessions of the Fox shows with lively, sexy brilliance.

Reader Reviews

Membership Advantages
  • Reviews
  • "Beyond the Book" articles
  • Free books to read and review (US only)
  • Find books by time period, setting & theme
  • Read-alike suggestions by book and author
  • Book club discussions
  • and much more!
  • Just $12 for 3 months or $39 for a year.
  • More about membership!

Beyond the Book

Historical Characters in Confessions of the Fox

Jack Sheppard
Jack Sheppard was born in London in 1702. As described in The Confessions of the Fox, Sheppard was apprenticed to a carpenter before succumbing to the attractions of the inns and whorehouses of Drury Lane.

Jack Sheppard, in Newgate Prison awaiting execution He began a relationship with a prostitute, Elizabeth Lyon, known as Edgeware Bess, and took to petty theft. By 1724, the 22-year-old Sheppard, his brother and Bess were operating as burglars. Sheppard was first arrested in April 1724 but broke out of prison within two hours by making a hole in the roof. One month later, he and Bess were arrested together but escaped by climbing out of a window and down a rope made from sheets and her dress and petticoat.

These escapades brought him celebrity and notoriety, ...

This "beyond the book" feature is available to non-members for a limited time. Join today for full access.

Membership Advantages
  • Reviews
  • "Beyond the Book" articles
  • Free books to read and review (US only)
  • Find books by time period, setting & theme
  • Read-alike suggestions by book and author
  • Book club discussions
  • and much more!
  • Just $12 for 3 months or $39 for a year.
  • More about membership!

Readalikes

Readalikes Full readalike results are for members only

If you liked Confessions of the Fox, try these:

  • Frankissstein jacket

    Frankissstein

    by Jeanette Winterson

    Published 2020

    About this book

    More books by this author

    What will happen when homo sapiens is no longer the smartest being on the planet? In fiercely intelligent prose, Jeanette Winterson shows us how much closer we are to that future than we realize. Funny and furious, bold and clear-sighted, Frankissstein is a love story about life itself.

  • The Parting Glass jacket

    The Parting Glass

    by Gina Marie Guadagnino

    Published 2020

    About this book

    Devoted maid Mary Ballard's world is built on secrets, and it's about to be ripped apart at the seams, in this lush and evocative debut set in 19th century New York.

Non-members are limited to two results. Become a member
Search Readalikes again
How we choose readalikes
Membership Advantages
  • Reviews
  • "Beyond the Book" articles
  • Free books to read and review (US only)
  • Find books by time period, setting & theme
  • Read-alike suggestions by book and author
  • Book club discussions
  • and much more!
  • Just $12 for 3 months or $39 for a year.
  • More about membership!

Join BookBrowse

Become a Member and discover books that entertain, engage & enlighten.

Find out more

Editor's Choice

  • Book Jacket: The Lost Apothecary
    The Lost Apothecary
    by Sarah Penner
    Sarah Penner's debut novel The Lost Apothecary was rated 4 or 5 stars by 22 of our 23 First ...
  • Book Jacket: The Spymaster of Baghdad
    The Spymaster of Baghdad
    by Margaret Coker
    For the last 17 years, the country of Iraq has known almost constant violence and political upheaval...
  • Book Jacket: Hades, Argentina
    Hades, Argentina
    by Daniel Loedel
    Daniel Loedel's debut novel, Hades, Argentina, opens in 1986 when we meet Tomás Orillo, a young...
  • Book Jacket: Dark Horses
    Dark Horses
    by Susan Mihalic
    Dark Horses is a shocking, heart-pounding debut; it's both a coming-of-age novel and an unflinching ...

Readers Recommend

  • Book Jacket

    Smalltime
    by Russell Shorto

    Family secrets emerge as a best-selling author dives into the history of the mob in small-town America.

    Reader Reviews
  • Book Jacket

    The Lost Apothecary
    by Sarah Penner

    A forgotten history. A secret network of women. A legacy of poison and revenge. Welcome to The Lost Apothecary.

    Reader Reviews
Book Club Discussion
Book Jacket
The Narrowboat Summer
by Anne Youngson
From the author of Meet Me at the Museum, a charming novel of second chances.
Win This Book!
Win Band of Sisters

Band of Sisters
by Lauren Willig

"A crackling portrayal of everyday American heroines…A triumph."
— Fiona Davis

Enter

Wordplay

Solve this clue:

W T's Life T's H

and be entered to win..

Books that     
entertain,
     engage

 & enlighten

Visitors can view some of BookBrowse for free. Full access is for members only.

Join Today!

Your guide toexceptional          books

BookBrowse seeks out and recommends the best in contemporary fiction and nonfiction—books that not only engage and entertain but also deepen our understanding of ourselves and the world around us.