William Douglas? James Douglas? Laurence MacKim? Who will provide the love for which Margaret Douglas craves? Crockett’s three very different men are psychologically convincing from the outset. Margaret, Crockett’s narrator, provides a mature woman’s irreverent view of love and life. She begins as a teenage princess who, much to her chagrin, is “dispatched like a bale of goods” to a French convent. She finishes title-less but as connubially content as her best friend, whose marital relationship Crockett uses to emphasise the inadequacies of Margaret’s first and second marriages.
“Maid Margaret” has those cinematic-like scenes typical of Crockett at his best: on a wild night in “the deep middle” of a Scottish winter, an unexpected rider appears at the walls of Thrieve Castle seeking vengeance; father and son fight each other to near-death, two-handed sword against Lochaber axe; an unchristened baby, the last in the line of Black Douglases, is baptised at night in Balmaghie kirkyard. Each fully engages the reader but it is Margaret’s personal drama that is most moving. Crockett’s novel of Galloway’s “fair maid” transcends time and place (mid-15th century Scotland). Historical romance is transmuted into a classic tale of what becomes a woman’s double search for identity and love that has contemporary resonance.
Review by Stewart Robertson
Note that Maid Margaret is the sequel to The Black Douglas.
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