“I knew by now that most common people thought the noble life was all ease and beauty – a notion with which I could not agree. I hated to make the same mistake, to think them happy because they laughed or content because they did not complain. Perhaps we all were in this trap, red with envy over what was different, wearied by the drudgery of our own lives.” – p 136
Okay, so I picked this up on a whim. I enjoy reading stories centered around the legend of King Arthur, and while this story isn’t about Camelot, it certainly has a similar tone without the depressing ending of being murdered by your own son. In most stories about the Prince of Thieves, we see everything from Robin’s point of view, with Maid Marian a whimsical love interest on the sidelines as Robin does his thing of robbing the rich to give to the poor. This book proposes we view things from Marian’s angle. She is always seen as a ward of the king, which means she is an orphan, something never mentioned in the legend of Robin Hood. And from Marian’s standpoint, her life isn’t quite as peaceful as everyone supposes. Since King Richard is off to the Crusades, she is at the mercy of his mother, Eleanor of Aquitaine. And Eleanor is determined to use every resource at her disposal to benefit her favorite son. This includes marrying off orphan daughters of deceased landowners to gain favor and loyalty from other noble families. Marian finds herself married first at the age of 5, but when her husband dies under mysterious circumstances and she is engaged to the brother of her former husband, she fears her own life is in danger from her cunning and deadly mother-in-law. She, along with her maid Annie, go in search of Robin of Loxley, in hopes the renegade will help her to formulate a plan to secure her freedom. What Marian doesn’t expect is to fall in love.
If you’ve ever heard the legend of Robin Hood, you know how all this story turns out. But Watson does a lovely job of turning the tables on us as the reader, never venturing too much information in the direction of Robin’s capers and instead constantly focusing on Marian. We are treated to her history, her innermost thoughts, her fears, and her motivations to risk nearly everything in pursuit of happiness and the legacy that is rightfully hers as heir to her parent’s lands.
I enjoyed this book. It’s always nice to gain a different perspective on a legend you’ve heard over and over. It was a good enough story to stand on its own, relying just enough on the legend to keep you abreast of what’s going on in the timeline of Robin. This barely boarders on a romance novel – there’s nothing graphic in this, but it is a story of the romance of Robin and Marian, so be prepared for some mush “flutterings of my heart” and “what is this feeling coming over me” scenes. Nothing that made me too disgusted, so I’m sure it’ll be fine for anyone who reads this blog. There are some very entertaining characters in this story as well. Little John is supremely different from anything you’ve seen in a Disney movie, and Marian’s friend and maid, Annie, is just spunky enough to balance out Marian’s nobility. If you enjoy romance novels that aren’t too graphic and have a quality of historic background to them, I’d recommend this.
“Maid Marian: A Novel” was written by Elsa Watson and published in 2005.