Summary and book reviews of The Maid by Kimberly Cutter

The Maid

A Novel of Joan of Arc

by Kimberly Cutter

The Maid by Kimberly Cutter X
The Maid by Kimberly Cutter
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  • First Published:
    Oct 2011, 304 pages
    Paperback:
    Oct 2012, 304 pages

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Book Reviewed by:
Sarah Sacha Dollacker
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About this Book

Book Summary

The girl who led an army, the peasant who crowned a king, the maid who became a legend.

The girl who led an army, the peasant who crowned a king, the maid who became a legend

It is the fifteenth century, and the tumultuous Hundred Years' War rages on. France is under siege, English soldiers tear through the countryside destroying all who cross their path, and Charles VII, the uncrowned king, has neither the strength nor the will to rally his army. And in the quiet of her parents' garden in Domrémy, a peasant girl sees a spangle of light and hears a powerful voice speak her name. Jehanne.

The story of Jehanne d'Arc, the visionary and saint who believed she had been chosen by God, who led an army and saved her country, has captivated our imagination for centuries. But the story of Jehanne - the girl - whose sister was murdered by the English, who sought an escape from a violent father and a forced marriage, who taught herself to ride and fight, and who somehow found the courage and tenacity to persuade first one, then two, then thousands to follow her, is at once thrilling, unexpected, and heartbreaking. Rich with unspoken love and battlefield valor, The Maid is a novel about the power and uncertainty of faith, and the exhilarating and devastating consequences of fame.

Prelude

In the dream, death is as far off as the mountains. It's a cold, blue winter morning, and she is riding her horse very fast over a field of snow toward a high pine forest, still dim with shadow. Her armor glints in the early light, the steel giant's hands flashing on either side of her horse's mane, but the metal is strangely weightless in the dream. She does not feel it. What she feels instead is the still and brilliant morning, the snow and the speed and the cold air on her cheeks, and inside of her a violent, holy joy that makes her eyes very bright and propels her wildly over the fields toward the enemy forest, snow spraying and glittering beneath her horse's hooves.

Behind the girl rides her army of ten thousand men, all of them eager as she is, united by the same strange and feverish joy as they crash across the winter fields, across a black icy river that winds, shining like a ribbon, through the white land and toward the shadowed stillness of the pines. She can hear...

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...
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Reviews

BookBrowse Review

BookBrowse

Kimberly Cutter's debut novel is a gritty, absorbing exploration of the life of Joan of Arc. As Cutter explains in her afterword, Joan of Arc is one of the most written about women in history, yet I would bet that few capture the essence of Joan's journey like Cutter does. The novel follows Joan's life closely, and Cutter often uses phrases from Joan's actual conversations and correspondence for the dialogue of her character. Despite its accuracy and the adherence to the historical record, this delightful novel is very much fiction, taking the reader into the heart and mind of one of history's most fascinating women...continued

Full Review (698 words).

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(Reviewed by Sarah Sacha Dollacker).

Media Reviews

Library Journal
Historical fiction fans, particularly those interested in French history, will delight in Cutter's take on this legendary character. Readers of Christian fiction will also find it enticing.

Kirkus Reviews
Despite the Grand Guignol moments, a thoughtful retelling.

Publishers Weekly
Starred Review. In this stunning debut, Cutter pays vibrant homage to this legendary woman.

Author Blurb Amanda Foreman, author of Georgiana and A World on Fire
A fiery portrait of one of history's most exalted heroines. Cutter's lavish imagery is outstanding and her dynamic characters are truly absorbing. The Maid is a triumphant re-imagining of a courageous, faithful and remarkably resilient woman.

Reader Reviews

bansi

amazing.......
This book was really really cool reading; it has a mixture of romance and action. The romance part is very subtle, but is a lovely experience.

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Beyond the Book

The Hundred Years' War

Joan of Arc's successes on the battlefield helped to end the series of battles known today as the Hundred Years' War (1337-1453). Essentially, the series of battles were dynastic conflicts between the Plantagenets in England and the Valois in France. In the 1330s, both Houses claimed rights to the vacant French throne, but these claims were preceded by a long, twisted relationship between England and France.

The Battle of Rochelle It all started when William the Conqueror claimed the English throne in 1066. Because he came from France and was a vassal of the French king, William technically owed allegiance to the French king. For one king to owe allegiance to another was tricky, but as the English grew more powerful than the French over subsequent decades...

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