The Foxes of Harrow not worth digging out

Steven Fox arrives in New Orleans in 1825, broke and friendless.

By his gambling and his good looks, he makes a fortune and buys land, working along side his slaves to make it prosper.

The Foxes of Harrow by Frank Yerby

Dial Press, 1946. 408 p. 1946 bestseller #6. My grade: C-.

Before long Harrow is the greatest plantation in Louisiana, its manor house a gem on the Mississippi.

Steven marries Odalie Orceneaux by whom he has two children.

After her death he marries her sister, Aurore.

And on the side he has a quadroon mistress.

As Harrow grows more prosperous and influential, the South prepares for war. Steven lays aside his anti-secession principles to fight for the South.

In the introduction to The Foxes of Harrow, Frank Yerby makes the glory and ruin of Harrow Plantation almost palpable, but the story never lives up to its setting.

Yerby starts out writing about people in the pre-Civil War South, and ends up writing an historical novel about the South.

The characters, too, are not consistent.

Initially conniving, thieving, self-centered, and cruel, Steven magically becomes loyal, generous, and statesmanlike by the book’s end.

The best thing to be said for The Foxes of Harrow is that it’s better than its sequels.

But it’s no Gone With the Wind.

© 2016 Linda Gorton Aragoni


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Linda G. Aragoni

I make big ideas simple for learners. In eight sentences, 34 words, I taught teens and adults to write competently. Now I'm writing guides to turn willing volunteers into great nursing home visitors.

2 thoughts on “The Foxes of Harrow not worth digging out”

  1. If you read that fast, you cannot appreciate the beauty and wonder of Yerby’s writing. Pride’s Castle is not a romance; it is a tragedy. His characters are intense and historically accurate. If historical fiction – not historical romance (the difference being that in historical fiction, real historical figures interact albeit slightly with fictitious characters – is not your bag, that’s cool. This is a novel about the greed of the robber barons, the disasters they wrought, and the novel was written at a time before modern historians have chosen to be a bit more generous in their assessments of the likes of Jay Cooke and Cornelius Vanderbilt. The railroads of post Civil war were the real estate traumas experienced in the last ten years. Same theme, different subject.


    1. It’s been so long since I read Foxes, I really can’t remember it. Thanks for sharing your comments. Perhaps when I finish my self-appointed reading of all the bestsellers 1900-1969, I’ll give Yerby another reading.


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