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 by Joyce Carol Oates X
A Fair Maiden by Joyce Carol Oates
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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

This information about A Fair Maiden was first featured in "The BookBrowse Review" - BookBrowse's membership magazine, and in our weekly "Publishing This Week" newsletter. Publication information is for the USA, and (unless stated otherwise) represents the first print edition. The reviews are necessarily limited to those that were available to us ahead of publication. If you are the publisher or author and feel that they do not properly reflect the range of media opinion now available, send us a message with the mainstream reviews that you would like to see added.

Any "Author Information" displayed below reflects the author's biography at the time this particular book was published.

Reader Reviews

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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 Dustin Cohen

Joyce Carol Oates is a recipient of the National Humanities Medal, the National Book Critics Circle Ivan Sandrof Lifetime Achievement Award, the National Book Award, and the 2019 Jerusalem Prize for Lifetime Achievement, and has been nominated several times for the Pulitzer Prize. She has written some of the most enduring fiction of our time, including the national bestsellers We Were the Mulvaneys; Blonde; and the New York Times bestseller The Falls, which won the 2005 Prix Femina. In 2020 she was awarded the Cino Del Duca World Prize for Literature. She is the Roger S. Berlind '52 Distinguished Professor of the Humanities emerita at Princeton University and has been a member of the American Academy of Arts and Letters since 1978.

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