A Hoboken Hipster in Sherwood Forest
Chrissie, said Hoboken Hipster, finds herself a photographic assignment in a Medieval re-enactment faire. Somewhere along the way her colleague goes missing, she meets a strange gypsy who sets her a quest, and she ends up traveling back in time to 11th century England. There, the first person she meets is Robin of Locksley.
The story is told in first person present tense – something that took a bit of getting used to – but actually works to heighten the comedic effect. Chrissie’s inner monologue, complete with very current pop culture references, is very funny. Her first thought, for example, is that she’s on a reality TV show, and she spends the first half hour looking for the cameras.
Mancusi also pulls out the “girl in boy’s clothing” card in order to allow Chrissie to infiltrate Robin’s forest home. This is never a plot device that works for me, but I was able to let it go. Chrissie pretends to be a eunuch, which accounts for her high voice, and because we are never privy to Robin’s thoughts, we also avoid the whole angsty “am I gay?” debate. Robin does kiss Chrissie as a boy, and the way he handles it is well done.
The book really lost me though, the first time Robin Hood said “Wow.” That was followed swiftly up with a comment about Little John’s “butt.” Now I realise that a certain creativity is required with historical language – after all, what Robin and his merry men spoke, we’d never recognize as English, let alone understand. So some updating is required. But present-day slang? I had my linguistically-minded friend look up these two most obvious slips. Though in use longer than I had suspected, neither are appropriate in Sherwood Forest.
Finally, there are two major characterization flaws that dropped this book to a C- for me. When Chrissie meets Robin, he and his merry men are hiding out in the forest. The whole “rob the rich to feed the poor” gig? Chrissie’s idea. Robin only really seems to get into it once the notoriety comes in. Yet Chrissie repeats on more than one occasion that she’s fallen in love with Robin because he’s handsome and he has a heart of gold. Well … apparently Chrissie gave Robin his golden heart, which makes her feelings seem really quite shallow.
The second problem lies in the use of historical characters. Maid Marian plays a role in A Hoboken Hipster…, but obviously does not end up with Robin. However, no explanation is given as to why she is still quoted in all the tales and story books as Robin Hood’s true love. This sort of loose end drives me crazy.
This book had me laughing out loud in public transportation with tears running down my face. Unfortunately, I wanted to throw it out the window in the next instant. As much as I want to recommend this one simply for the joie de vivre, I just can’t.