WINNER OF THE 2022 PEN/E.O. WILSON LITERARY SCIENCE WRITING AWARD
A solitary woman’s inspiring, moving, surprising, and often funny memoir about the transformative power of her unusual friendship with a wild fox.
Catherine Raven left home at 15, fleeing an abusive father and an indifferent mother. Drawn to the natural world, she worked as a ranger in national parks, at times living in her run-down car on abandoned construction sites, or camping on a piece of land in Montana she bought from a colleague. She managed to put herself through college and then graduate school, eventually earning a PhD in biology and building a house on her remote plot. Yet she never felt at home with people. Except when teaching, she spoke to no one.
One day, she realised that a wild fox that had been appearing at her house was coming by every day precisely at 4.15. He became a regular visitor, eventually sitting near her as she read to him from The Little Prince or Dr Seuss. Her scientific training had taught her not to anthropomorphise animals, but as she grew to know him, his personality revealed itself — and he became her friend. But friends cannot always save each other from the uncontained forces of nature.
Though this is a story of survival, it is also a poignant and dramatic tale of living in the wilderness and coping with inevitable loss. This uplifting, fable-like true story about the friendship between a solitary woman and a wild fox not only reveals the power of friendship and our interconnectedness with the natural world, but is an original, imaginative, and beautiful work that introduces a stunning new voice.
‘A wise and intimate book about a solitary woman, a biologist by training, who befriends a fox. More than that, it’s the tale of a human mind trained to be logical meeting and being touched by Nature and coming to realise a greater truth. If Thoreau had read The Little Prince, he would have written this book.’
Yann Martel, Author of Life of Pi
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‘This intimate and poetic account of a biologist’s friendship with a fox overturns the assumption that the world exists for humans to dominate and control. By paying ecstatic attention to grasses, insects, birds and animals, Catherine Raven allows us to hear what nature is saying to us. Fox and I is essential reading for anyone concerned about the catastrophe human beings are inflicting on the environment from which they and all other creatures sprang.’
Stephen Batchelor, author of The Art of Solitude