THE FORESTWIFE by Theresa Tomlinson


Age Range: 11 - 15
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The traditional image of the maid Marian takes on a faintly pre-Christian cast in this tale of a teenager who flees into the woods to avoid a forced marriage. Robin Hood and his men play relatively minor roles here. Young Mary and her canny nurse Agnes brave a purportedly haunted forest to reach the solitary hut of the witchlike Forestwife, Selina, only to find her dead. Agnes assumes the role, with Mary, now known as Marian the Green Lady, helping; they heal the sick, deliver babies, feed the hungry, and rescue those ill-treated by the local authorities. Agnes' rough, ne'er-do-well son Robin--er, Robert appears now and then, either wounded in fights or bringing food and news. The evil deeds of lords and officials are bruited about, but the malefactors themselves remain offstage; Tomlinson focuses on the afflicted common folk, ground down by misfortune and injustice. When Robert is hurt once again, Marian leaves the forest to nurse him; upon her return she finds Agnes dead, the Forestwife's girdle and burden left to her. Though the cast is confusingly large, the author fills it with capable women, and a gory but memorable scene in which Marian kills a deer is the story's only overt violence. Not as vivid as Robin McKinley's Outlaws of Sherwood (Greenwillow, 1986), this nonetheless puts an intriguing, female- centered twist on the legend. (Fiction. 11-15)*justify no*

Pub Date: April 1st, 1995
ISBN: 0-531-09450-2
Page count: 170pp
Publisher: Orchard
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15th, 1995


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