THE SNOW FOX DIARIES
Chic, intelligent, highly motivated - and unexpectedly unemployed. AND soon to be forty. Not a situation Katie Tremain finds easy to cope with, especially as it gives her time to notice that she and husband Ben seem to get on better together when they’re apart. So when the opportunity to escape the city and work on a dilapidated house on the edge of Exmoor comes her way, she jumps at the challenge.
Then, one misty summer morning, she chances across something so wonderful, so bizarre that she can’t believe her eyes. A fox with fur so white it sparkles, like snow.
A rare, precious and very vulnerable albino vixen.
From that moment Katie’s days - and her life - will change completely, the fate of her marriage becoming intertwined with that of the fox as both struggle to survive.
This is a story of what happens when passion becomes obsession. Set against the wild, beautiful, often violent world of today’s Exmoor, it’s also a story about the power of love. And guns. And doughnuts.
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READ AN EXTRACT
It’s hot, a real heatwave. Hotter than in Spain, or Cyprus, where everyone has gone to find the early summer sun. As hot as New York, and almost as humid. Katie is wearing shorts and a halter top, enjoying the cool of the kitchen floor beneath her bare feet. She’s slicing courgettes so fresh it's like slicing through butter. She bought them at the local Farmer's Market from a stall run by a woman in a flouncy skirt with long grey hair, along with other organic goodies: pencil thin green beans, mushrooms, spicy rocket and red Batavia lettuce. It was Guy who told her about the market, bless him.
She’s excited. Tomorrow is her birthday, and Andrew is coming down with Tess and the children. She’s making a summer vegetable flan, has already prepared a selection of snacks to keep in the fridge. Tomorrow night Tess insists she's doing the special dinner, which means she's probably been cooking all week. Tess loves feeding people: it‘s the way you prove your love. They once had a young female cat who needed to have liposuction before it could be neutered.
“Don't forget we only have one temperamental cooker and a microwave.”
Earlier in the week Katie had been on the phone for hours trying to persuade Tess not to make too much fuss. She was looking forward to seeing them, but she'd never much liked birthday parties, and certainly didn't want to be reminded that she was another year closer to her fortieth.
She walked with the phone across to the window that opened out onto the overgrown garden, the air shimmering under a white sky, watched a gang of blue tits in the bird bath she’d found on its side in the shrubs, their wings shivering, making sprays of droplets that sparkled in the sun. The paving below was getting soaked. Must top up the water, she thought.
“We’ll eat outside on Saturday, shall we?”
If Ben and Andrew could somehow manoeuvre the kitchen table out onto the patio at the side, she would dress it up with a lace tablecloth (she must get Ben to find it and bring it down), and flowers of course. And he could bring those glass globes that they’d had for ages and never used, that you put lighted candles in and hang from trees.
“As long as we don't get bitten by bugs. You wouldn’t believe how many insect bites I‘m allergic to.”
Bet I would, Katie thought. Typical Tess. She still can't understand how Andrew picked her to be his wife.
“I’ll dig out the repellent.,” she said.
For the first time in weeks I didn't think about you. Now, for a few days at least, I had my other family around, and though seeing them back in London was no big deal (sometimes a bit of a chore if I'm honest) having them come down to visit me in Devon was completely different. I planned things, like showing them around the village, driving up onto the moors to see the wild ponies, maybe even heading off to the coast which everyone says is stunning around here. Hard to believe that I'd been down here months and still not managed to get to the sea.
Again I debated telling Andrew about you, but again I had doubts. I could imagine his face, that strange sideways grin he used to give when he was about to deflate my excitement with some cutting remark. I'd seen him do it to the girls, too. Fortunately they take his need to tease no more seriously than a wasp buzzing around the ice cream I'm convinced they're addicted to, turning their backs and flapping a hand whilst continuing to lick. “Oh dad, grow up, will you?” I once heard Tilly say, and then she and Rose doubled up, heads touching, giggling uncontrollably whilst he pretended to be upset..
After my initial panic - after the fair - I'd decided you really weren't under any immediate threat, not if you stayed close to your own territory, which the second hand book I found in a village shop assured me you'd do. It was an old book, written back in the sixties, but I figured fox behaviour probably didn't change much from year to year. It was the assurance I needed, and left me free to at least delay worrying about you, and get on with enjoying my visitors.