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Recently, Ms. Fox had read the section of her new book that describes her time in London. "To say I was very receptive is an understatement. I was all ears and eyes. If I drew myself, I'd draw lots of ears and eyes. Everything was open, you know. I was open to everything, not incautious -- incautiously. I was very guarded too. But I was open to Europe in a way that I hadn't been to anything else."

"Did you think, when you left for England and Europe, that you might escape your unhappy childhood?"

"Oh, yes. As I said in the opening part, you don't escape anything -- except there's a certain sense in which you do. My husband and I have gone to Italy a great deal, and Paris, and we lived in Greece for half a year.

"The Europe that I knew, which was right after the war, is no longer. It's a different Europe now. And my sense of it is so much in my own experience that that's a very personal thing to say. But I don't know how to describe what I mean more than to say that. It was so rich, and I found returning was painful. It was coming back to what I had gone to Europe to get away from, which was my own past."

"In this book you certainly are good at making your reader feel the cold weather. I felt that one almost had to go find one's muffler and one's mittens to keep reading it."

"George Plimpton, when I last saw him, a few weeks before he died, and after he accepted the part of the book that he published, said, 'It's so cold. It's filled with crystals.'"

"How did you decide to write children's books?"

"It came naturally. Someone suggested that I wanted to make up for my own childhood by producing books for children. I began to write both my first novel and Maurice's Room, which was my first children's book, when I was in Greece. It was the first time I had time without anything to do except watch my sons and cook. So I began to write the novel and Maurice's Room at the same time, and I sold both of them. I didn't even question the impulse to write books for children. I think probably also I had a memory of reading The Wind in the Willows andLittle Women and all the books that were around for children. And Peter Rabbit

"Oh, God -- isn't she wonderful? Beatrix Potter? My boys loved her books. I was brought up by the minister about whom you read in Borrowed Finery and he provided me with these books. He was a wonderful man.

"I had books in my room when I was five years old. I was reading by then. I remember the book case that was in my room, in the old house, up in Nyack. I was always surrounded by books until I went out on my own.

"I'm still surrounded by books. Somebody, in fact, gave me Tender Is the Night when I was 17 and I read it every year for 10 years, so I know parts of it by heart."

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