Diana's Reviews > The Maid: A Novel of Joan of Arc

The Maid by Kimberly Cutter
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Sep 15, 11


The Maid: A Novel of Joan of Arc by Kimberly Cutter is an intimate portrayal of Joan of Arc’s rise and fall from her pivotal role in the Hundred Years War. It begins with Jehanne d’Arc as a twelve year old girl from Domremy, France, whose father is the tax collector and king of the peasants, so to speak. Life at home is difficult for her; Jehanne, her mother, and brothers have to endure the patriarch’s violent outbursts. Her beautiful sister Catherine had been murdered, which is the possible catalyst for her father’s unpredictable behavior. One day, she receives a vision that sends her on a mission to save France from English invasion, as ordained by God. Her destiny is to bring Dauphin Charles VII to his rightful reign after having been cast out as illegitimate and humiliated by his mother, who sold out the French to King Henry V. Once she fulfills her destiny, she falls out of favor as a threat to the new king’s reign and is sold to the English, then prosecuted as a witch.

Joan of Arc has been labeled saint, visionary, heretic, witch, etc. However, human is not one of those labels. The stigma of being labelled a saint is that the saint loses their humanity by being placed upon such a high pedestal. Ms Cutter does an excellent job of portraying Jehanne’s humanity: she is flawed, impatient, has a temper, has desires. The story doesn’t come off as feminist reading, which I appreciated (not that I have anything against feminist literature, but it would be easy to propagate that element in this story).

Another thing I really appreciated about The Maid is that while everything centered around Jehanne’s religious beliefs, there is no religious agenda. I felt comfortable reading this book and didn’t feel like I was being slapped in the face with a Bible. The book was also well researched and historically accurate (except for Catherine’s death, which there is no record of what had happened to her) while still allowing for artistic license with Jehanne’s character.

The writing was beautiful. At times, however, I felt the descriptions were flowery.

I felt that the sequences where Jehanne is enraptured by God’s light were slightly contrived. It was difficult to imagine the people around her changing their views and feelings by seeing her enthralled, although, I cannot imagine that that is something so easily described.

I also felt that the ebb and flow of the story was slightly awkward, as well as the switches from present to past tense when she rehashes her story to the priest Massieu. I also felt that the battles and everything in between were handled with too much brevity.

All in all, I really enjoyed this book. Had I not won it on goodreads.com, I may not have read it until another year or two after its release. Excellent debut novel; I look forward to reading more of Ms Cutter’s works.

I received this advanced readers copy from goodreads.com for free. There was no compensation made for my review; it is my own, unadulterated opinion

If you liked this review, check out my other reviews at Random Pabulum!


Merged review:

The Maid: A Novel of Joan of Arc by Kimberly Cutter is an intimate portrayal of Joan of Arc’s rise and fall from her pivotal role in the Hundred Years War. It begins with Jehanne d’Arc as a twelve year old girl from Domremy, France, whose father is the tax collector and king of the peasants, so to speak. Life at home is difficult for her; Jehanne, her mother, and brothers have to endure the patriarch’s violent outbursts. Her beautiful sister Catherine had been murdered, which is the possible catalyst for her father’s unpredictable behavior. One day, she receives a vision that sends her on a mission to save France from English invasion, as ordained by God. Her destiny is to bring Dauphin Charles VII to his rightful reign after having been cast out as illegitimate and humiliated by his mother, who sold out the French to King Henry V. Once she fulfills her destiny, she falls out of favor as a threat to the new king’s reign and is sold to the English, then prosecuted as a witch.

Joan of Arc has been labeled saint, visionary, heretic, witch, etc. However, human is not one of those labels. The stigma of being labelled a saint is that the saint loses their humanity by being placed upon such a high pedestal. Ms Cutter does an excellent job of portraying Jehanne’s humanity: she is flawed, impatient, has a temper, has desires. The story doesn’t come off as feminist reading, which I appreciated (not that I have anything against feminist literature, but it would be easy to propagate that element in this story).

Another thing I really appreciated about The Maid is that while everything centered around Jehanne’s religious beliefs, there is no religious agenda. I felt comfortable reading this book and didn’t feel like I was being slapped in the face with a Bible. The book was also well researched and historically accurate (except for Catherine’s death, which there is no record of what had happened to her) while still allowing for artistic license with Jehanne’s character.

The writing was beautiful. At times, however, I felt the descriptions were flowery.

I felt that the sequences where Jehanne is enraptured by God’s light were slightly contrived. It was difficult to imagine the people around her changing their views and feelings by seeing her enthralled, although, I cannot imagine that that is something so easily described.

I also felt that the ebb and flow of the story was slightly awkward, as well as the switches from present to past tense when she rehashes her story to the priest Massieu. I also felt that the battles and everything in between were handled with too much brevity.

All in all, I really enjoyed this book. Had I not won it on goodreads.com, I may not have read it until another year or two after its release. Excellent debut novel; I look forward to reading more of Ms Cutter’s works.

I received this advanced readers copy from goodreads.com for free. There was no compensation made for my review; it is my own, unadulterated opinion

If you liked this review, check out my other reviews at Random Pabulum !
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