The White Jade Fox

~ A Novel by Andre Norton


Synopsis ~

Write-up from the front flap of the 1975 dustjacket ~

In her first gothic tale, the author of many distinguished science fiction books has combined I Ching and the lore of old China to add an occult dimension to a vividly detailed nineteenth-century American setting.
Saranna Stowell was sent to Tiensin, a manor near Baltimore, to act as governess for a young relative. She soon discovered that there was an impenetrable mystery hidden at the manor which seemed connected to treasures collected by the last owner, a sea captain trading in the Orient.
The mysterious happenings seemed to both threaten and protect her, but she knew she was entirely threatened by the implacably evil enemy she unwillingly inside.
This richly told story will delight all readers s who enjoy a suspenseful period novel.


Write-up from the back of the paperback edition ~

Saranna had heard rumors about Tiensin…
… The strange old mansion with its oriental treasures. She had heard it was haunted. Now with her own eyes she had seen it was true. The Macabre circle of small foxes ringing the dancer in the secret garden, the mysterious robed woman with a fox’s face. Had Saranna really seen them? Or had she dreamed it?
Saranna had gone to Tiensin under protest. Her spoiled young niece, Honora, had forced her to become a governess to her stepdaughter, Damaris. Never had Saranna encountered anyone as thoroughly evil as Honora. She was beautiful, and she could pull the wool over any man’s eyes. But she could not deceive Saranna. Or Damaris, whom she was planning to cheat out of a huge inheritance. Even the handsome and trustworthy Gerrad Fowkes seemed to be taken with the deceitful young stepmother.
Saranna knew now that the future held great danger for her and Damaris. She needed desperately to talk to someone. But there was no one. Except Gerrad Fowkes.
Or was he too enamored of Honora to believe Saranna?


Write-ups from fans ~

Saranna Stowell's father, a sea captain is long dead, and her mother (assisted by Saranna) had to earn her living with her needle.  Now her mother is dead, and Saranna's much-older half-brother Jethro (a product of her father's first marriage) has sent for her to join him in his Baltimore home.  Once there, she encounters her niece, Jethro's widowed daughter, Honora, who resents any attentions--and especially, money--given to Saranna by Jethro.  Lying to her father about Saranna's wishes, Honora manages to get Saranna sent off upriver to the estate once held by Honora's father-in-law.  Living on the estate is Damaris, Honora's stepdaughter, who is the actual owner of the estate.  Unfortunately, Damaris is still a child and subject to the dictates of her adult guardian, Honora, who has designs upon the estate and its Oriental treasures and is attempting to have Damaris sent away to some institution where her "mad fancies" won't influence anyone else.  However, Damaris's grandfather had installed at the estate a Chinese princess, who dances in the moonlight in front of an audience of foxes, including two large white ones, and controls a degree of magic.  At the end, thwarted once too often by Saranna and Damaris, Honora brings in a crew of workers from Baltimore and plans to have the hidden garden where the Chinese princess lives destroyed, and the foxes all killed.  However, Damaris and Saranna are able to lend the Chinese princess some of their strength and with her magic, Honora's plans are finally and completely thwarted for all time. ~ SL


Andre did not do many of these "Gothic" novels of romantic suspense, but when the mood took her to write one, she put all the love and care in them that she put in the rest of her stories. Like follow the Drum, it is set in Maryland. The period is, I think, post-revolutionary war. When Saranna's mother dies, she has to go live with her much-older half-brother who leaves for Brazil the day after they meet, leaving her under the dubious "care" of her spoiled niece Honoria who forces her to be a governess to Honoria's stepdaughter Damaris who owns a mansion full of Chinese jade artifacts that Honoria wants to sell a steal the money. The estate also has a mysterious secret garden and is the home of a large population of foxes. Honoria is a cruel manipulative greedy woman who will do anything to get her own way. Danger, thievery, conspiracy and suspense abound, and Andre's love of the Chinese culture and traditions shows through in this novel. Throw in a handsome neighbor who could possibly be courting Honoria and our heroine's plight seems dire indeed. Good Book ~ PG


Reviews ~

Booklist Review ~ June 01, 1975
Science-fiction writer Norton weaves eerie elements of fantasy and the occult into a somewhat complex but smoothly written gothic with a nineteenth-century setting. Orphaned Saranna Stowell journeys to Tiensin, a manor outside Baltimore, to act as interim governess to a young distant relative., Damaris, heiress to the manor and its oriental treasures. Complications arise through the machinations of Damaris' widowed stepmother and the dour housekeeper, but Damaris, who has long known the secret of the hidden garden at Tiensin, and Saranna, newly introduced to the secret, are able to work with garden's powerful inhabitant to avert the danger.


Various reviews ~ For more info and other listings see Articles Over the Years

1975 by Eamon Morgan in Delap's F & SF Review #5 (fnz), August
1975 by M. Blalock in School Library Journal, September
2020 by Judith Tarr


Bibliography of English Editions ~

  • (1975) Published by Dutton, HC, 0-525-42670-1, LCCN 74023871, $7.95, 230pg ~ cover by David Stone {Orange Paper Boards, Brown Cloth Spine}
  • (1975) Published by Irwin Clark, HC, 230pg ~ Canadian printing ~ cover by David Stone
  • (1976) Published by Fawcett, PB, 0-449-Q2865, $1.50, 208pg ~ #24005 1981 $1.95 ~ cover by Harry Bennett
  • (1976) Published by Wingate, HC, 0-855-23131-9, £3.95, 215pg ~ UK printing ~ cover by Chris Collingwood
  • (2016) Published by Worldbuilders Press, DM, no isbn, $3.99, 201pg ~ cover by Matt Forsyth
  • (2018) Published by Ethan Ellenberg Literary Agency, PB, 978-1-680-68031-7, $9.99, 226pg ~ cover by Matt Forsyth


Non-English Editions ~

  • (1977) Published in Rastatt, Germany; by Pabel, OCLC: 74373422, Gaslicht 14, DM3.00, 144pg ~ translated by Eva Malsch ~ German title Der Mondgarten [The Moon Garden]


Russian Omnibus Editions ~

  • (2016) Published in Moscow, by Eskmo, 978-5-699-92952-8, HC, 832pg ~ cover of A. Dubovik ~ Russian title Духи времени [Spirits of Time] ~ Limited to 4000 copies


    • "The Opal-Eyed Fan" as "A fan with eyes from opal" ~ translation by D. Arseniev, pp. 5-198
    • "The White Jade Fox" as "White Jade Fox" ~ translation by D. Arseniev, pp. 199-406
    • "Wheel of Stars" as "The Star Wheel" ~ translation by D. Arseniev, pp. 407-604
    • "Wraiths of Time" as "The Spirits of Time" ~ translation by D. Arsenyev & O. Kolesnikov, pp. 605-829

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