A Fair Maiden: A Novel
A teenager’s involvement with an older man is not what it appears in a tale of seduction by the New York Times bestselling author of We Were the Mulvaneys.
Sixteen-year-old Katya Spivak is out for a walk on the gracious streets of Bayhead Harbor with her two summer babysitting charges when she’s approached by silver-haired, elegant Marcus Kidder. At first his interest in her seems harmless, even pleasant; like his name, a sort of gentle joke. His beautiful home, the children’s books he’s written, his classical music, the marvelous art in his study, his lavish presents to her—Mr. Kidder’s life couldn’t be more different from Katya’s drab working-class existence back home in South Jersey, or more enticing. But by degrees, almost imperceptibly, something changes, and posing for Mr. Kidder’s new painting isn’t the lighthearted endeavor it once was.
What he wants from Katya is something she can’t comprehend. What Katya wants from him is something else again. As their relationship deepens, and twists, the question is who’s seducing whom? And to what end?
From a National Book Award winner and #1 New York Times bestselling author, A Fair Maiden is “fresh, current and gripping . . . the insight shrewd and the violence vivid . . . [an] intense and thought-provoking work of fiction”(New Statesman).
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... passing the succession of dazzling and dreamlike shops for which Ocean
Avenue was known — the Bridal Shoppe, the Bootery, the Wicker House, Ralph
Lauren, Lily Pulitzer, Crowne Jewels, the Place Setting, Pandora's Gift Box, Prim
Rose Lane Lingerie & Nightwear — when, as she paused to gaze into the Prim
Rose Lane window, there came an unexpected voice in her ear: “And what would
you choose, if you had your wish?” What registered was the quaint usage your
In the Prim Rose Lane display window were such silky, intimate items of apparel,
it seemed very strange that anyone who passed by could see them, and yet more
unnerving that others might observe. Katya had been staring at a red lace
camisole and matching red lace panties — silk, sexy, ridiculously expensive —
worn by an elegantly thin blond mannequin with a bland beautiful face, but it was
a white muslin Victorian-style nightgown with satin trim, on a girl mannequin with
“Goodbye.” “And I, too. In this direction.” And so Mr. Kidder fell into step with
Katya, walking with her on Ocean Avenue and making sparkly conversation with
Tricia, a shy child, now a not-so-shy child, beguiled by this charming old white-
haired man who, so far as a three-year-old could know, might be a grandfatherly
friend or acquaintance of her parents'. Now in the succession of shop windows
Katya was aware of two reflections — her own, and that of the tall, white-haired
Now they were passing the large, lavish display window of Hilbreth Home
Furnishings, and Mr. Kidder touched Katya's wrist lightly. “And in this window,
Katya, what would you choose, for your dream home?” Dream home. Another
quaint usage that stirred Katya's pulse. The first time she'd looked into Hilbreth's
window, Katya had felt something sharp turn in her heart: a stab of dismay,
resentment, dislike, anger against those who bought such expensive things for
their expensive ...
And the stately ten-foot privet hedges that shielded the houses here from the
street and the curious stares of sightseers hoping to gaze at the homes of the
wealthy as you might gaze into the dazzling shop windows of Ocean Avenue.
Katya liked it that the house at 17 Proxmire was old and dignified and weathered
— a “shingleboard” house — with white shutters, winking lattice windows, and a
steep slate roof like an illustration in a children's storybook of a tale set once
upon a time.
What people are saying - Write a review
LibraryThing ReviewUser Review - adpaton - LibraryThing
It’s no wonder Joyce Carol Oates have never won any major award – she’s just too brilliantly readable. A Fair Maiden is subtitled A Novel of Dark Suspense and although it’s not really dark or that ... Read full review
LibraryThing ReviewUser Review - nancyewhite - LibraryThing
Thank god for JCO. She writes about what lurks around the edges; the shadows that dart away as soon as you turn your head to look. In this one, a young woman with a difficult home life gets a summer ... Read full review