March is Women’s History Month and while the retelling of the Robin Hood legend in the story Scarlet by A.C. Gaughen isn’t strictly history, this is still the Fiction Friday pick.
One of the major reasons I chose to write about this story is that the main character in this Robin Hood legend is a strong woman who makes her own choices in life–not letting anyone, including Robin Hood, tell her what to do.
In this retelling of the legend, Will Scarlet, Robin Hood’s friend, isn’t a boy, but instead is a woman known to most around Sherwood as Scar or Will. Everyone believes she is a male thief and that’s what Scarlet wants them to believe. Only a few folks know most of the truth, including Robin, Little John, Much and Friar Tuck.
Scarlet is a strong, moody character. She has plenty of secrets and a dark past. She’s also torn about her disguise as a man: for example, the religious Scarlet won’t go to church dressed as a man because she wants God to see her as she really is. One of the things I loved about this Scarlet is that she’s multidimensional.
If you’ve seen any movies or read any Robin Hood stories, you’ll recognize some the events of the story. The Sheriff of Nottingham is here and so are the awesome prison escapes.
The story is told entirely from Scarlet’s point of view. This is a little difficult to get into at first, because Scarlet doesn’t speak in proper English. But give it a chance and I think you’ll get used to it.
The author, A.C. Gaughen, wrote that she felt “compelled” to write about Robin Hood. She was interested in the trials and tribulations that Robin faced both at home and on the Crusades and how he dealt with his pain by helping others. In her retelling she chose to rewrite Will Scarlet as a girl because he could have been!
I like to think of history as a very long game of Telephone; it’s never going to come out at the end exactly…to the way it started. (from the Author’s Note to Scarlet p.9)
There will always be people who think a woman–especially a young woman–isn’t capable of all that Scarlet believes she is. I don’t buy it. If history didn’t leave a place for a strong (and yes, sometimes grumpy) young woman to exist, then it is my pleasure and delight to shake things up… (from the Author’s Note to Scarlet p.10)