I'll admit it first thing: I was a King Arthur groupie. Summers were spent at Renaissance festivals, and one year my best friend and I even made medieval dresses for ourselves - and it wasn't even close to Halloween. So coming into this lovely, lovely book which retells the story of Elaine, the Lady of Shalott, I was more than excited. Then I opened the book and saw it was all in verse and I sort of did a little dance around the house. Okay, so it was a big happy dance.
In this revised version of The Lady of Shaott, Elaine along with her brothers and father live in the soldiers camp under the direction of Arthur. She has become friend, sister and healer to the men but her only wish is that she could have more female friends. As war progresses, Elaine gets her wish when Lancelot, the love of her life, brings back Gwynivere to be Arthur's bride. But Lancelot is obviously in love with Gwyn and can only see Elaine as a young girl. To make matters worse, Gwyn is utterly beautiful and completely mean and nasty to Elaine. Which I thought was a totally delicious change.
Sandell may not have stayed completely true to Tennyson's original poem about Elaine, but this version was more filled with hope for the future. The cadence and smooth flow of events competely had me sucked in from the very beginning. Here's one of my favorite passages:
The warriors gather, but I am not welcome.
Or so Lavaian tells me, hurling
the words like rocks over his shoulder.
Stay here. The meeting is no place for a girl.
Leaving me here, alone,
to wait and wonder.
What will become of us?
Just so dang great.