It has been a quiet reading week. I’m slowly making my way through Stone’s Fall by Iain Pears. It’s a mystery set in the late 19th and early 20th century. Not normally my favourite type of book but so far it’s very good – and long. I seem to have been reading steadily and am still only a third of the way through. I have to confess to have been sidetracked by the Twilight book which I wasn’t planning on reading but one of the girls at work bought it in so I started it.. and am loving it!
I have also been having a few site problems this week which have been a bit frustrating. I’ve noticed these seem to be on all the blogs I read with the same template so hopefully this is a wordpress problem that will be resolved soon.
I was pleased to find A Fair Maiden by Joyce Carol Oates in the new books section of the library yesterday. Oates is an author I have been meaning to try for a while, this book at 231 pages seemed like a good place to start.
The writing was really easy to read, the chapters quite short and it was a definite page turner. It was also quite an uncomfortable read.
The story is told in the third person from the point of view of Katya Spivak. Katya is 15 years old and working as a nanny for the summer in an affluent suburb of New Jersey. She is young but not totally innocent with a few ‘bad habits’ and having grown up without much support from her father who gambled before disappearing and her mother who likes to drink. Her background and the shame she carries with her are pivotal to the choices she later makes.
Out one day with the children and gazing in an expensive lingerie shop window, she is approached from behind by an older, white haired man with a cane and piercing blue eyes – Marcus Kidder.
And here starts the inappropriate and creepy relationship between the two. Katya knows that this 68 year old man has designs on her but is ambivalent to his advances. She is physically repulsed but attracted to his sophistication, his culture and especially his wealth. Marcus Kidder has an ocean front house, plays the piano, is a writer of childrens books and has a house filled with his work, unusual glass flowers and walls adorned with portraits of beautiful girls and women – Katya, he tells her is to be his next subject.
He also speaks of special mission for Katya. Not to be revealed quite yet. Handsomely rewarded… Despite telling herself and him her answer is no, she finds herself unable to stay away…
Despite it’s fairly light approach, this is a story of abuse. Marcus Kidder presents himself and is received by Katya as a type of fairy god father – he is the only person that loves Katya and will always take care of her. This is enormously attractive to a girl from the poorer side of town with little security. Yes there are strings attached and the scary thing I think is that Katya could see these strings but was not able to resist the rewards that came with them.
I liked the writing and was totally absorbed in the story. I’m not sure how believable I found it all, which is probably a good thing or it could have all been a bit disturbing.
2010, 231 pages