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Maid Marian : a novel
Elsa Watson
Adult Fiction WATSON

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From Publishers' Weekly:

Light and entertaining, if occasionally cloying, this debut novel presents an account of Maid Marian, the legendary romantic interest of Robin Hood. An orphaned heiress, Lady Marian Fitzwater struggles against scheming, duplicitous relatives for the right to her own lands. At age five she is married to Hugh of Sencaster, who dies suddenly and under dubious circumstances, when she is 17 and before the marriage is consummated. As an orphan, Marian is a ward of the king, England's beloved Richard the Lionheart. But both Richard's powerful mother, Queen Eleanor, and the mother of Marian's dead husband, Lady Pernelle, want her hastily remarried so that her lands and fortune may be seized. Marian decides to enlist the help of Robin Hood and his band of populist outlaws to intercept correspondence and see what plans are being made for her. With Robin's help, she discovers that she is now promised to Hugh's brother, Sir Stephen, and realizes that her life will be in jeopardy once she is married to Stephen and her lands secured. Robin, now enamored, helps Marian escape days before the menacing second marriage. Their relationship deepens, developing into rather treacly love ("I strode off with Robin the following day with a song in my heart"). The book comes alive in its last act, when Marian returns, disguised as a servant, to Lady Pernelle, in a plan to regain control of her lands and her future. While readers are asked to suspend disbelief (can we really believe that because Marian hennas her hair her former mother-in-law won't recognize her?), the tight plotting, intrigue and battles with the devious royals give page-turning momentum to the story's conclusion. (Apr.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

From Library Journal:

Watson's debut novel offers a tale of Sherwood Forest from Maid Marian's point of view. Lady Marian Fitzwater is 17 years old, orphaned, and newly widowed as the novel opens. Her tenuous situation worsens as Queen Eleanor of Aquitaine cheats Marian of her dowry in order to maintain the political support of Marian's mother-in-law, Lady Pernelle. When Eleanor further commands Marian to marry her brother-in-law, none other than Robin Hood rescues Marian from this loveless marriage. Marian takes refuge in Sherwood Forest with peasants, learning the Saxon language, farming, and other pursuits of common folk. With Robin she sets about to find some justice and make a future. Watson paints a fascinating picture of life during the reign of Richard I, making this an admirable addition to the historical fiction genre. The novel's one flaw lies in its contrived plot developments. These are forgivable, however, because the novel is so entertaining, offering crisp, clever dialog and a fresh treatment of a familiar subject. Recommended for most public libraries.-Jean Langlais, St. Charles P.L., IL (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

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main characters Marian Fitzwater
Betrothed in infancy to a brutish nobleman who died young, then betrothed to her dead fiance's idiot brother; arranges her own kidnapping as a way of escape.

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