April 25, 2004: Headlines: COS - Guinea-Bissau: Writing - Guinea-Bissau: The Sun Link: When author Elsa Watson was serving in the Peace Corps in Guinea-Bissau, she began writing "Maid Marian," the story of Robin Hood's fair lady

Peace Corps Online: Directory: Guinea-Bissau: Peace Corps Guinea Bissau : The Peace Corps in Guinea-Bissau: April 25, 2004: Headlines: COS - Guinea-Bissau: Writing - Guinea-Bissau: The Sun Link: When author Elsa Watson was serving in the Peace Corps in Guinea-Bissau, she began writing "Maid Marian," the story of Robin Hood's fair lady

By Admin1 (admin) (pool-141-157-69-95.balt.east.verizon.net - 141.157.69.95) on Sunday, April 25, 2004 - 1:29 pm: Edit Post

When author Elsa Watson was serving in the Peace Corps in Guinea-Bissau, she began writing "Maid Marian," the story of Robin Hood's fair lady

When author Elsa Watson was serving in the Peace Corps in Guinea-Bissau, she began writing Maid Marian, the story of Robin Hood's fair lady

When author Elsa Watson was serving in the Peace Corps in Guinea-Bissau, she began writing "Maid Marian," the story of Robin Hood's fair lady

Bainbridge author revives classic from a woman's point of view

Barbara Lloyd Mcmichael

April 25, 2004
Some tales are evergreen, and I find a nice synchronicity in the fact that a native of our own Evergreen State should attempt to breathe new life and color into one of Western civilization's favorite stories of all time -- the legend of Robin Hood.

When author Elsa Watson was serving in the Peace Corps in Guinea-Bissau, she began writing "Maid Marian," the story of Robin Hood's fair lady. That Watson's manuscript has gone from being scribbled down in longhand by lamplight in West Africa to seeing the light of day as a published book in America probably is a worthy tale in and of itself. But for the purposes of this column we will concentrate on the finished novel.

The tale begins when orphan and heiress Marian Fitzwater, at the tender age of 5, is wed to an equally young nobleman. The union not only consolidates their estates and enriches his family, it also ensures political stability for the monarchy.

The children grow up apart from one another, and years later, before their marriage has a chance to be consummated, teenaged Marian learns that her husband has met with an untimely death.

After a prescribed period of mourning, Marian's future will be determined by the shrewd Queen Mother, Eleanor of Aquitaine, whose overriding goal is to consolidate power for her eldest son, Richard the Lionheart.

But Marian is loathe to be sold into another marriage of convenience, especially when she discovers that the plan is to have her marry back into her late husband's unloving family -- this time to his 9-year-old brother.

In desperation, Marian seeks and receives the help of the notorious outlaw of Sherwood Forest, Robin Hood, prince of thieves.

In escaping the chains of loveless matrimony, Marian has to go so far "underground" that she is presumed to be dead. She is willing to make the sacrifice: As others assume management of her estate, she begins a new life under much harsher circumstances than what she is used to, first in Sherwood Forest with Robin Hood's band of men and later as a peasant lass in one of the villages that once had been among her holdings.

As any tale about Robin Hood must do, "Maid Marian" examines the disparities between rich and poor. Watson writes about the intrigue and opulence of court life on the one hand, and about the duress and hardships of peasant life on the other.

She does an especially nice job of describing life at harvest time, when the villagers went out into the fields to toil in the service of the lord of the local manor.

Watson's interpretation of Marian is cut from 21st-century cloth, however. This heroine's fierce independence and habitual flouting of authority would scarcely be comprehended, much less tolerated, in the 12th century.

Still, Marian has a winning personality, and that -- combined with the derring-do and romance that are de rigeur in any version of Robin Hood -- makes "Maid Marian" an entertaining story.

Barbara Lloyd McMichael writes about the books, authors and publishers of the Pacific Northwest.

'MAID MARIAN' by Elsa Watson

Crown, $23.95

e-mail: bkmonger@nwlink.com




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Story Source: The Sun Link

This story has been posted in the following forums: : Headlines; COS - Guinea-Bissau; Writing - Guinea-Bissau

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