Reading guide for The Maid by Kimberly Cutter

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The Maid

A Novel of Joan of Arc

By Kimberly Cutter

The Maid
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  • Hardcover: Oct 2011,
    304 pages.
    Paperback: Oct 2012,
    304 pages.

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Book Reviewed by:
Sarah Sacha Dollacker

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Reading Guide Questions Print Excerpt

Please be aware that this discussion guide may contain spoilers!

  1. How does Jehanne's faith evolve? How do others view her faith? How did you?

  2. Could Jehanne have performed such feats today as she did then? Are there contemporary equivalents? If someone came to you today and told you she was hearing voices, what would you do? Would you believe her, or commit her? Would it make a difference if that person were a person of faith, either Catholic or Muslim or Jewish?

  3. Look at the instances in which Jehanne performs violent acts. How are these portrayed? Do you believe Jehanne killed in battle, as The Maid suggests? "'You miraculous creature, you've done it.' 'God did it,' Jehanne said, thinking of the dead man with the knife in his throat. Thinking, But who did that? Did He or did I?" (p. 209). Is it possible to kill and still be pure, a saint? What absolves Jehanne of those murders, if so?

  4. Why are the men's clothing and the suit of armor so important to Jehanne? How does she transform according to what she has on? How does clothing define us?

  5. "You think there's such a thing as a good war, a justified war? You think there's such a thing as honest blood?" (p. 266). Does Jehanne believe there is? Do you? Compare the war Jehanne fought to the wars ongoing today. Are there any similarities?

  6. Why do the voices desert Jehanne? What sort of doubt does Jehanne struggle with and why do you think she had to go through that? Did Jehanne ever err in her faith or her responsibilities? Were these human fallibilities? What elevated her to sainthood?

  7. Jehanne was burned at the stake, the townspeople shouting, "Witch!" What is the fine line between being a witch and a saint? How does that tie into Jehanne's doubt later in the novel? Consider also the many other stories of witch trials and how they were similar to or different than Jehanne's trial.

  8. Why is it so important that Jehanne remain a virgin? Was she? Does it matter?

  9. Did Jehanne really hear voices or was she mentally ill? What do you think? What does the author believe?

  10. How is the Joan of Arc portrayed in The Maid different or similar to the Joan of Arc you knew before reading the novel? What did you learn? What makes Kimberly Cutter's version of events unique? Can you learn more from a novel than you can from a biography? What liberties does the novelist have in situations like this?

Unless otherwise stated, this discussion guide is reprinted with the permission of Mariner Books. Any page references refer to a USA edition of the book, usually the trade paperback version, and may vary in other editions.

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