Although the tale of Robin Hood has been told many times, far fewer times has it been told from Maid Marian’s perspective. In this version, Marian is a wife (although chaste) at age five and a widow in her teens. She had been wed to her childhood friend Hugh to unite their properties. As Marian was also an orphan and a ward of the court, Queen Eleanor has the right to pick her next husband, selling her off, as it were, to the highest bidder. Taking an understandable interest in her own destiny, Marian seeks out the famous Robin Hood, hoping to have him intercept correspondence that would reveal her next husband. Robin ends up rescuing Marian from her next marriage, and she and her maidservant Annie take up residence in Sherwood Forest with Robin and his men.
Although this is a well-known love story, Watson writes Marian with such a lively, unselfconscious voice that it comes almost as a surprise when Marian realizes that she’s in love with Robin. The only part that strikes a false note is the contrivance that compels Marian to leave Robin and the forest and live as a poor Saxon with a hard-working family. There she gets a taste firsthand of the tyranny of the Normans, and when she and Robin are reunited, she devises a plan to expose her former mother-in-law.
Watson does an excellent job with the period details of life in the twelfth century and uses language that befits the time without being too full of “prithees” and “verilys” to read. Although at times Marian’s observations about the plight of women and Saxons seem to be a bit anachronistic, it is refreshing to hear the story from her point of view. She deserves to be the heroine in the tale of Robin Hood.