Cover image for Fair maiden
Fair maiden
Hall, Lynn.
Personal Author:
First edition.
Publication Information:
New York : Scribner, 1990.
Working at the Renaissance Fair, Jennifer finds her first love and an escape from family problems at home.
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FICTION Young Adult Fiction Central Closed Stacks

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Working at the Renaissance Fair, Jennifer finds her first love and an escape from family problems at home.

Reviews 2

Booklist Review

Gr. 9-12. Working as an unpaid extra at a local Renaissance fair is a dream come true for Jennifer Dean, who finds that stepping back into the fifteenth century helps her forget about her brother Michael's violence and her beloved stepfather's abandonment. The romantic ballads of lutenist John Trumball further evoke the romantic world she seeks, and it isn't long before the minstrel and the "fair maiden" have eyes only for each other. That John happens to be a committed bachelor, an itinerant performer who is probably twice her age, seems not to matter to Jennifer in a world that makes her feel safe, where "men loved women totally and forever." There's no question teens will read this novel: the romance fairly crackles as it moves toward the inevitable sex, which is handled with great reserve, and Hall does a creditable job of manipulating two different settings. But readers deserve more about characters and relationships--especially about scary yet tantalizing Michael, who's presented as an important factor in Jennifer's life--and the book gets heavy-handed after the sex, with a secondary character ready in the wings to take John's place and offer Jennifer words of wisdom. Hall does go one better than many YA writers by acknowledging the dangers of unprotected teenage sex, but her attempt to work in the message reads like a ludicrous afterthought: "It was a fantasy for both of us, but if I'm pregnant or caught a disease or something, then that's going to be extremely real," says Jennifer on the last page. The makings of a good novel are certainly here: romance, tension, intriguing characters. But in what may have been a desire to keep her book short (most of her novels are), Hall has shortchanged her readers. With novels like The Solitary and Just One Friend, she's proved she can do better. Watch out for the jacket illustration, too. Jennifer is a senior in high school; illustrator Lincoln has made her look more like 14. ~--Stephanie Zvirin

School Library Journal Review

Gr 9-12-- The story of a 17-year-old's first love (first sexual encounter), surrounded by the atmosphere of a Renaissance fair and interlaced with contemporary family problems (yuppie, twice-divorced mother; violent, abusive brother). Jennifer falls in love with a man she knows only as John the Lutanist, who ultimately beds her and emotionally--if not physically--abandons her. Jennifer's reaction--on top of a vicious attack by her brother that puts both herself and her mother in the hospital--is incredibly calm. A few tears, a chat with a handy philosophical friend, and she's ready to face the future with wisdom and understanding. This is particularly unbelievable given her daydreamy nature and penchant for avoiding reality. The book is full of awkward, repetitious phrases and contains many inconsistencies. The romantic plot of love won and lost is blatantly foreshadowed from the start (especially with several chapters written from John's point of view) and is laden with endless trite references to soulmates and eternal destinies. Jennifer's difficult family situation is both underdeveloped and poorly integrated into the text; the subplot of the psychopathic brother is nearly irrelevant. Hall introduces themes with great potential from time to time, but they all fade out. Most of the characters never come to life; the Renaissance fair setting is the best part of the book. A keen disappointment for readers who have enjoyed and identified with Hall's earlier strong-willed, clearly delineated heroines. --Ann W. Moore, formerly at Lane Road Library, Columbus, OH (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.