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A fair maiden
Joyce Carol Oates
Adult Fiction OATES

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From Publishers' Weekly:

Sixteen-year-old Katya Spivak and elderly Marcus Kidder share a bizarre romance in Oates's derivative and unpolished new novel. In bland Bayhead Harbor, N.J., Katya serves as a nanny to the Engelhardts' two young children. Attractive Katya-unappreciated by her alcoholic mother, mistreated by the tyrannical Engelhardts-is intrigued by the attentions of wealthy Mr. Kidder, a former children's book author and amateur painter. The courting is slow at first, but after Katya accepts Mr. Kidder's money to help her mother pay off a debt, things accelerate. Soon Katya is posing for Mr. Kidder in lingerie and receiving payment upon each visit. She begins to feel used, but is thankful for the attention-until one evening when Mr. Kidder possibly drugs her, at which point something equally bizarre and predictable happens. Katya and Mr. Kidder's final meeting reveals Mr. Kidder's true intention for Katya, but the revelation isn't worth the buildup. This is certainly one of Oates's lesser works. (Aug.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

From Library Journal:

A summer nanny in an upscale New Jersey Shore community, 15-year-old Katya Spivak is approached by wealthy 68-year-old author and artist Marcus Kidder-and one immediately wonders where this is leading. Oates (Dear Husband) creates a growing sense of evil as Katya becomes more involved with Kidder. First she visits him innocently enough with her charges for tea, then comes over alone when she needs money to help her mother out of a jam; finally, after one unreasonable demand, she rebels. In exploring Katya's life and relations, including her gambling, man-chasing mother, jealous sisters, and criminal boyfriend Ray, Oates shows makes it clear why a wealthy, sophisticated man would become irresistible to Katya. The answer to the question whether Kidder's intentions are good or evil and whether Katya will eventually be saved or ruined lead to the climax of this short but satisfying novel.-Josh Cohen Mid-Hudson Lib. Syst., Poughkeepsie, NY (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

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main characters Katya Spivak
Age: 16
Mother is an alcoholic; takes care of two children; mistreated by her employer; intrigued by the attention she receives from Marcus; accepts money from Marcus to help her mother pay off debt; poses for Marcus's paintings which he pays her for; begins to feel used.

Marcus Kidder
Age: Elderly
Former children's book author; pays Katya to pose for him; in love with Katya.

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