Courtenay, Bryce. Brother Fish (Toronto: McArthur, 2005) 842 p.
Miss Nicole Lenoir-Jourdan was born in 1906 in Russia. After fleeing the revolution with her family she spent many difficult years in China. She finally settled down on a small Tasmanian island where she served as Justice of the Peace, piano teacher, and librarian. In the latter capacity she mentored young Jacko McKenzie.
Nicole Lenoir-Jourdan remained imperious, didactic and aloof in all things other than when discussing books. She had a long neck and a chin that seemed always to be raised at a forty-five-degree angle so that she was forced to look at you through the bottom of her glasses, an effect that made her appear as if she didn't much like what she saw. (p. 56).
As an adult Jacko sees Nicole differently
Now I looked at her carefully – really looked for the first time. Her face was in profile and in repose. She was by her own admission a woman close to fifty, as slim as a rake, with her natural blonde hair beginning to turn grey. I felt a physical shock as I realised she was still a highly attractive woman and must have once been very beautiful. She used very little makeup – a lick of red lipstick and perhaps mascara. Her hair was cut, not overskilfully, in a bob, while her skin remained clear and firm …. (p. 556).
Jacko wonders why she never married, and lived on a tiny Australian island.