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A Fair Maiden

by Joyce Carol Oates

Young and under-appreciated summer nanny, Katya Spivak, is flattered by the advances of elderly gentleman Marcus Kidder. But is the relationship that grows between them a tragic fairy-tale of soul mates born at the wrong time or a sinister manipulation of loneliness, beauty and wealth? With rapidly rising stakes I wanted to believe in the best of human nature, but feared the worst.

Extract

And Mr Kidder embraced her, as you'd embrace a weeping child, to give comfort. And Katya held herself rigid at first, not wanting to be touched by the white-haired old man, for there was the faint fragrant smell of his cologne, and a drier smell of his skin, or his hair, that she did not like; a smell of his breath, a very slight smell, which is desiccated and mere bone. Yet she was lightheaded, dazed, for no one had held her like this in a long time, no one had spoken so tenderly to her in a long time; so Katya ceased resisting, slid her arms around Mr Kidder, and hugged his lean body in return, hiding her warm weeping face in the crock of his neck.

Parallels

Birthday Stories by Haruki Murakami
Venus - the film
Oranges are Not the Only Fruit by Jeanette Winterson
 

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