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The Maid: A Novel of Joan of Arc
by Kimberly Cutter

Published: 2011-10-18
Hardcover : 304 pages
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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, ...
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Introduction

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.

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.

A Note from Kimberly Cutter, Author of The Maid

In the spring of 2008, I had realization. After several years of struggling to write a novel that was rooted more or less in my own experience, it occurred to me one afternoon that I was miserable (hiking "uphill in iron shoes," as Robert Lowell says), and that perhaps this was not the book I was meant to be writing. This, of course, was an incredibly depressing thing to realize, but it was also liberating in the way that admitting something true is always liberating. A few hours later, I was sitting on the floor in my living room, idly staring at a wedge of sunlight and wondering what to do with the rest of my life, when a thought occurred to me: What if you could write any book you wanted? Any book. In the whole world.

It's hard to describe the kind of excitement that those words knocked free in me then. It was as if the entire snowy Himalayan mountain range had just sprung up behind my sofa. As if a unicorn stood drinking at my kitchen sink.

Hot on the heels of that thought came another: Well, what sort of book would it be? Any book. What would be the most exciting? The most fascinating? The most fun? The answers came thick and fast. It would be a book about someone who had actually existed. A woman. A woman who?d had a big, bold, active, adventurous life--the kind of life we all dream about living. I got up and made a list of candidates. Joan of Arc was on that original list (as were Cleopatra and Isabel Burton, the wife of legendary explorer Sir Richard Burton) but almost as soon as I began reading about Joan's life, the other candidates drained away like shadows at daybreak. No one else had such conviction. Such faith. Such ferocious courage. Also, unlike so many of history's great women, who were famous for standing behind great men, Joan stood alone. Behind no one. Her desire was her own; her glory was her own; her downfall was her own.

Up until then, I had never given Joan of Arc much thought before. Like a lot of people of my generation, I could count the things I knew about her on one hand: I knew she was a saint. I knew she was French. I knew she fought in a big war back sometime during the Middle Ages. I knew she was burned at the stake. That was it. For me, she existed as a sort of vague, dusty, sad-eyed figure in a stained glass church window--someone about as real as Snow White or Frankenstein. But as soon as I began reading about her life, I was hooked. Completely, utterly hooked. I wanted to know everything there was to know about her. This was a real girl, I kept thinking. A real flesh-and-blood teenager did all this.

-Kimberly Cutter



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by jillkuykendall (see profile) 10/27/18

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