Bay of Foxes

Sheila Kohler (Becoming Jane Eyre) creates a subtle and erotic psychological thriller in The Bay of Foxes. A white French woman and famous writer, 60-ish, known as M., meets Dawit, a 20-year-old Ethiopian boy, in a Paris café. She invites him to live with her. He accepts: he has lost everyone and has been living in squalid circumstances.

M. and Dawit are androgynous in appearance; they are both tall and lean. He wears her clothes, takes on her mannerisms, becomes her right hand. He is, however, not interested in any woman sexually. She watches him sleep, begs him to pleasure her in any way he can; he obliges reluctantly.

Early on we learn how Dawit regards M.: "Despite her upbringing in Somalia, she has never taken the trouble to learn any of the languages of the country, he notes. He comes to know all about her intimate life, her work, her desires, but she knows very little about him. Like all colonizers, he thinks, she is ultimately the dupe."

Still, he is grateful to her for all she gives him--money, beautiful clothes, a fine place to live and the opportunity to play her piano and read her books.

One evening she tells him that she is going out to give a reading and will be gone all night. He immediately calls Enrico, his married tennis-playing friend, with whom he is wildly in love. She returns early and tells Dawit to go. Faced with an uncertain future, Dawit's solution to the problem is less than imaginative, but it is properly pragmatic. --Valerie Ryan, Cannon Beach Book Company, Ore.

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