I was enchanted by the mix of realism and fantasy in “Fair Ladies” by Theodora Goss. The story starts of in a slightly unconventional way, at least in my opinion. Rudolph Arnheim’s father, the Baron, announces that he has found a mistress for his son, who in his father’s opinion is spending the time at university idly and is forming a relationship with a young woman who is quite unsuitable. The baron will pay for the woman’s apartment and expenses.

The woman is “The Pearl.” Before the war, she was gorgeous and entertaining, the mistress of important men, and moved about freely in society, until she disappeared. She had been living in a small cottage in the woods, near the Baron’s estate, and she was returning to the city only as a favor to the Baron. She would introduce Rudolph to the men he needs to know, set him up with a position, help him meet an appropriate woman, then return to her home after he is married.

In the second part of the story, we learn why The Pearl had to leave the city twenty years ago and why she never returned until the Baron asked her to.

Goss blends the realistic story with the fantasy aspect seamlessly and believably. I enjoyed the explanation of who The Pearl was, and how she fit so perfectly in the storyline. It is a lovely story, although the end is sad. With the second war on the horizon, it’s not clear how the women like The Pearl will be effected.

The story is available on-line here.

About 7,267 words
Apex Magazine 08/02/10

4 out of 5 stars

John hosts Short Story Monday at The Book Mine Set. Head over there to see what he and others have been reading.

I read “Fair Ladies” online and the above is my honest opinion..


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