Sir Gawain and the Green Knight is a rather famous poem, and Vera Chapman’s retelling of it is a beautiful piece of work. Instead of focusing on Sir Gawain, Chapman uses alternately viewpoints of Gawain and Lady Green (Viviane in this work) to tell a love story. The Gawain here is not the Sir Gawain of fame, but his younger namesake and nephew. What the use of this young one allows Chapman to do is explore how the Court at Camelot looks like from the second generation, a better view than simply Moderd’s.
Viviane finds herself married to the Green Knight (who is linked to ancient Welsh gods) due to the work of her aunt Morgan le Fay. What then plays out is the story, with the trappings, but also with a two section coda that also brings a reference to Gawain and Lady Ragnell (my favorite Gawain story). The book follows Chapman’s novella The King’s Damsel, but that book does not have to be read for this book to make any sense.
The beauty of the book is in the last coda and is a beautiful illustration of what Morgan le Fay represents but also capturing the looking forward that marks much great medieval and Renaissance work.