A Fair Maiden: Book summary and reviews of A Fair Maiden by Joyce Carol Oates

A Fair Maiden

By Joyce Carol Oates

A Fair Maiden
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  • Published in USA  Jan 2010,
    176 pages.

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Book Summary

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 does he really want from her? And how far will he go to get it?

In the tradition of Oates's classic story Where Are You Going, Where Have You Been?, A Fair Maiden is an unsettling, ambiguous tale of desire and control.

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Reviews

Media Reviews

"This is certainly one of Oates's lesser works." - Publishers Weekly

"[A] short but satisfying novel." - Library Journal

"Fans of Oates' gothic stylings will not be disappointed, however, and Katya’s belligerent exuberance...gives the prose plenty of punch." - Booklist

"Oates at her most restrained and hence best." - Kirkus Reviews

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Rated 4 of 5 of 5 by Cynthia A
No one is on her side
Katya is only 16 and it seems that no one is on her side! Everyone uses her, from her mother to her employer to her friends. Then she meets Marcus. An older gentleman, and she is torn between trusting him, loving him and using him. I could not put this book down and read it all in one sitting. It has a very surprising ending.

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Author Information

Joyce Carol Oates Author Biography

Photo by Marion Ettlinger

Joyce Carol Oates is a recipient of the National Book Award and the PEN/Malamud Award for Excellence in Short Fiction. She has written some of the most enduring fiction of our time, including the national bestsellers We Were the Mulvaneys and Blonde, which was nominated for the National Book Award. She is the Roger S. Berlind Distinguished Professor of the Humanities at Princeton University and has been a member of the American Academy of Arts and Letters since 1978. In 2003 she received the Common Wealth Award for Distinguished Service in Literature and the Kenyon Review Award for Literary Achievement.

Partial Bibliography
Memoir
A Widow's Story (2011)


Novels
With Shuddering Fall (1964)
Wonderland (1971)
Do with Me What You Will (1973)
Miracle Play (1974)
The ...

... Full Biography
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